The Centre for Public Education and Pedagogy was established in 2018 with the ambition to conduct and co-ordinate research on the past, present and future of public education. Through this, the centre seeks to promote a sustained and informed public conversation around the present condition and future possibilities of education at all levels, from pre-school to higher education, and across a wide range of different settings, including adult education and non-formal education.
The centre understands public education as education funded by public means, democratically accountable to the public, and accessible for everyone. It thus acknowledges the intrinsic connection between public education and democracy. Public education is an important institution of democratic societies. On the one hand it can be a democratising force in its own right; on the other hand there is the ongoing question what it requires from democratic societies to make public education possible.
The centre is acutely aware that the existence of public education cannot be taken for granted and that in our times public education is under pressure. This has partly to do with the rise of populist politics and authoritarian modes of governance that seem to prefer private (group) interests over the common good. It also has to do with many dynamics in education itself, such as the rapid growth of privately funded education, including commercial on-line education, the distorting influence of the global education measurement industry, and the impact of narrow views about what should matter in education, partly promoted by this industry. Even the global ambition to create equal opportunities for all is not without problems, as it is often connected to narrow economic rather than broader democratic agendas.
The centre is involved in a number of research projects – for more information please click here. It has established an annual doctoral conference – see here. Members of the centre publish and present actively about questions concerning public education – see here – and are involved in policy and practice development in a range of contexts – see here. We hold regular seminars and events at the campus of Maynooth University – see here – and contribute to teaching and supervision.
If you want to know more about the centre or become involved in its activities, please contact Prof Carl Anders Säfström, Director of the centre.