The main aim of the Research Centre for Public Education and Pedagogy is to promote education for all across Europe, and thus to strengthen democratic society, but also to produce research that can contribute with new ideas for a diverse and robust society to mobilize over difference: To assemble new social imaginariesfor a better future for all. Such mobilization is very much about institutions such as schools, but also the very way in which it is possible for a rich and diverse public life to expresses itself through different types of public institutions.

The research, therefore, is conceptually located between the various expressions of publics and counter-publics on the one hand and the social institutions that are supposed to respond to the needs of such publics on the other. The interest of the centre is in guaranteeing that democracy works in the benefit of society as a whole, not only for the elites and capital. Its task is to support a liveable life for all in society through education. Its contribution is to continuously conceptualize the tension between different social interests for education through research to invent new imaginaries that speak to a genuine pluralistic democracy across Europe.

Centre for Public Education and Pedagogy Highlights 2019

We are delighted to provide you with a summary of the activities of the Centre for Public Education and Pedagogy during 2019. It has been a productive year and the activities of the Centre have steadily increased in scope and reach as well as in intellectual depth. The national and international reputation, visibility and presence of the Centre has grown significantly, with an encouraging number of request from foreign scholars and doctoral students to become connected to the Centre or spend time as a visiting researcher. Gert Biesta joined the centre in January 2019 as 0.4 Professor of Public Education, thus enhancing the Centre’s core capacity. Researchers connected to the Centre has been successful in securing grants for research projects and international research networks. The Centre’s website is fully functioning and is contributing to the visibility of the Centre and its activities. We developed and taught a PhD course for the Department of Education which will be offered again in the autumn of 2020 and will be open to students from across the University and beyond. And we are looking to moving into a permanent allocated space early in 2020. The following activities and events have been particularly important for the Centre.
1.Conversations about the Publicness of Education
During the autumn of 2019 we organised three open conversations about the publicness of education, which were attended by colleagues and students from different departments in the university. The aim of the conversations was to explore and identify relevant issues concerning public education in Ireland and abroad and, through this, generate building blocks for the Centre’s research programme for the coming years. Notes from the conversations have been published on the Centre’s website. A first research programme, based on insights from the conversations, will be available early in 2020.
2.Public Lecture Series
During 2019 we started a series of public lectures under the title Public Education Revisited: On the Past, Present and Future of an Educational Ideal. Dr. Glenn Loughran, Lecturer in Fine Art DSCA, TU Dublin, gave a lecture on “Evental Education” (April); Dr. Ian Mundy, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy of Education, School of Education, NUI Galway gave a lecture on “Language, Democracy and Public Education” (June); Professor Hana Cervinkova, Department of Anthropology, Maynooth University gave a lecture on “Historical Memory and Democratic Citizenship Education in Poland” (October), and; Dr Bernie Grummell, Departments of Education and Adult & Community Education, Maynooth University gave a lecture on “Enhancing collaborative, transformative and democratic possibilities for the future” (November). Further lectures will be given in January and February 2020
In the Centre’s Visiting Scholars Presentations Series, Dr Tony Carusi, Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Education, Massey University, Aotearoa New Zealand gave a talk titled Failure is not an option: A topology of education’s impossibility (November)
3.Externally Funded Projects
Three new research projects gained financial support in 2019:

  1. “Contested Childhoods Across Borders and Boundaries: A North-South Comparative Study ” funded by SCHoTENS, with researchers from the Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education, the Department of Education, the Centre for Public Education and Pedagogy, and from Stranmillis University College, Belfast.
  2. “The Public Role of Education in Democratic Sustainability Transitions” funded by the Swedish Research Agency (2020-2022), brings together researchers from the Centre for Public Education and Pedagogy, Maynooth University, the research group SMED, Uppsala University, Sweden; the Centre CSD, Ghent University, Belgium; and the research group FAPE at Södertörn University, Sweden.
  3. “Forms of Formation: A Pedagogical-Philosophical Inquiry into Embodied Tensions About Gender and Social Equality in the Classroom”. Professor Sharon Todd, Maynooth University, Senior Lecture Elisabet Lagmann and Senior Lecture Lovisa Bergdahl Södertörn University. Funded by the Swedish Research Agency 2020-2024.
We are awaiting the results of our submission to the NORFACE programme: “Configurations of Public Education Across Europe: The Common School, Governance and the Future of Democracy”, a collaboration between the Centre for Public Education and Pedagogy (PI), the University of Gdansk, Poland, and the Autonomous University of Madrid.

The First Doctoral Winter Conference on Public Education will be held in January 2020. This conference is the first of a series of annual winter conferences aimed at doctoral students from Ireland and abroad.
Members of the Centre have been giving a number of keynote presentations during 2019:
Invited keynote by Carl Anders Säfström: “Are we living the end of democracy? A defence of the ‘free’ time of the university and school in an era of authoritarian capitalism” delivered at the 5th International Seminar on Philosophy of Education: Considering Alternative Political Perspectives, 27-28 June, at PUCRS University, Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Invited keynote by Sharon Todd: ”Facing Conflict Educationally: Democracy, Subjectification and The Senses” delivered at the 5th International Seminar on Philosophy of Education: Considering Alternative Political Perspectives, 27-28 June, at PUCRS University, Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Gert Biesta gave an invited keynote presentation at the annual conference of the World Educational Research Association in Tokyo (5-8 August 2019) under the title: “What kind of society does the school need? On democracy and education in impatient times”.
Participation at European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) 2019, 3-6 September, Hamburg:
Carl Anders Säfström was respondent on two symposia:

  1. “Public Education at the Crossroads in Germany, the United states and Canada”, with participants from those countries and arranged by Dr Rose Ylimaki University of South Carolina (network 23)


      2. “Public education and sustainability” arranged by the international research network WOK, Ghent University. Säfström will also be co-editor of the resulting special issue in EERJ that follows. 
      3. Gert Biesta gave a presentation under the title “Public Education between Innovation and Conservation” in the ECER network on Social Innovation in Education.   
5.Visiting scholars
The Centre was visited by Dr Tony Carusi, Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Education, Massey University Aotearoa New Zealand 12-17 November.
The Centre was also co-hosting Professor Stefan Ramaekers, Laboratory for Education and Society, KU Leuven, together with Maynooth University Social Science Institute, MU SSI. Stefan was here on a visiting fellowship during November and gave a talk within the Fellowship Talk Series in cooperation with the Visiting Scholars Presentations Series within CPEP. The talk was titled: Parenting Apps and the Parent as a Pedagogical Figure: From Politization to Depolitization.
6.Publications (selection)
Biesta, G.J.J. (2019). Obstinate education: Reconnecting school and society. Leiden: Brill | Sense.
Biesta, G.J.J. (2019). Teaching for the possibility of being taught: World-centred education in an age of learning. English E-Journal of the Philosophy of Education 4: 55-69.
Biesta,G.J.J. (2019). What kind of society does the school need? Redefining the democratic work of education in impatient times. Studies in Philosophy and Education 38(6), 657-668. DOI: 10.1007/s11217-019-09675-y
Biesta, G.J.J. (2019). Should teaching be re(dis)covered? Introduction to a symposium. Studies in Philosophy and Education 38(5), 549-553.
Biesta, G.J.J. & Säfström, C.A. (2019). Menntaávarpið. (Icelandic translation of: A manifesto for education.) Netla – Veftímarit um uppeldi og menntun. Menntavísindasvið Háskóla Íslands. (Netla – Online Journal on Pedagogy and Education. University of Iceland – School of Education).
Säfström, C.A. (2019). Paideia and the search for freedom in the educational formation of the public of today. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 53(4), 607-618.
Biesta, G.J.J. (2019). Schools in an age of shopping. Democratic education beyond learning. In Silvia Fehrmann (Ed), Schools of tomorrow. Berlin:Matthes & Seitz.

7.Activities planned for 2020
The first Doctoral Winter Conference on Public Education will take place from 20-24 January 2020 with participants from 10 different countries and invited presentations from Professor Simone Galea, University of Malta, and Professor Leif Östman, Uppsala University, Sweden.
Dr. Suzanne O’Keeffe, Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education, Maynooth University, and, Dr Leah O’Toole, Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education will give a presentation in January in our lecture series.
Prof Kris Rutten, Ghent University, Belgium, will give a presentation in our lecture series in February.
We are aiming to move to permanent premises in the spring of 2020 and there will be an opening event.
We will organise a book seminar on Gert Biesta’s 2019 book Obstinate Education. Reconnecting School and Society, published by Brill-Sense.
We are collaborating with Dr Tony Carusi, Massey University, on teacher education.
We are planning an international symposium on public education at the ECER conference in Glasgow, August 2020.
We are planning an international symposium in the fall of 2020 within the newly founded research network The Public Role of Education in Democratic Sustainability Transitions.
We anticipate the publication of the following books in 2020:
Säfström, C.A. (in press). A pedagogy of equality in a time of unrest. Strategies for an ambiguous future. New York: Routledge. (summer/fall 2019)
Biesta, G.J.J. (in press). Educational research: An unorthodox introduction. London: Bloomsbury.

With best Wishes,

Carl Anders Säfström & Gert Biesta