Each day between Monday, March 23, 2020, and Thursday, March 26, 2020, CIES 2020 Miami will feature a series of conference keynotes, which have been organized by this year’s Program Committee. As in music, these keynotes set the tone for the conference and highlight various aspects of the conference theme “Education beyond the Human: Toward Sympoiesis.” They weave in and out through the entire duration of the conference, inviting the participants to explore alternative ways for thinking about and experiencing life – and education – on a damaged Earth.
In addition, join us for a special Agora event – a panel discussion followed by a World Café – to explore ways in which an experimental modality of carbon zero conferencing could help us to both question the prevailing academic (infra)structures, epistemologies, valuation systems, and communications patterns, while enabling us to envision and engage in academic work without harming the environment.
Please check this page frequently for further updates on keynote panels and other special events!
GEORGE F. KNELLER PLENARY 'Education Beyond the Human: Can We Think Differently?' (Arathi Sriprakash, Stephen Sterling, Freya Mathews, and Jeremy Rappleye as moderator)
The struggle to think differently, to remake our reductionist culture, is a basic survival project in our present context. (Plumwood, 2010)
As the environmental catastrophe accelerates, it is increasingly apparent that most educational researchers cannot think differently. Theoretical paradigms and pedagogical practices forged in the long sweep of modernity are repackaged as solutions to the new challenge of a crumbling environment. ‘Business as usual’ applies not only to capitalism and politics, but also to knowledge and education. There is a striking lack of reflexivity on the fact that current paradigms and pedagogies have rendered the environmental catastrophe largely invisible to even the most ‘educated’, cosmopolitan, and/or critical researchers. This is particularly true in our field of comparative and international education, which has long praised itself for seeing beyond national containers and cultural prejudice. And yet it has wholly failed to recognize this epochal global issue and understand that the invisibility of the environment is generated by deep cultural biases inherent in what being ‘educated’ means.
Is it still possible to think differently? If so, how might we begin to do so? These questions guide this Plenary Session, one that seeks to explore – in a preliminary sort of way – how the philosophical and theoretical tools we utilize might be remade to move beyond business-as-usual approaches. Since its inception, CIES has been more skilled at advocating the Enlightenment paradigm of education – liberal humanism – than thinking beyond it. It has strained to expand solidarity, rather than diversify the onto-epistemic foundations. The field has worked more on developing efficient modes of delivering the True paradigm, than on demonstrate ways to escape from it. Certainty and delivery now reign, whilst questioning and receptivity have retreated.
Yet, how much longer can this status-quo hold in the face of the inevitable disintegration of our Hegelian-esque Faith that the world is ‘getting better’ in the decades ahead? Do we – as comparativists – still have the time to develop alternative paradigms and pedagogies to replace our eroding master narrative before the environment forces us to do so? Which aspects of existing philosophical and theoretical projects can be partially salvaged when creating the new paradigm? Which need to be wholly scrapped? More challengingly: Is there sufficient depth of thought in the field of CIES, a community that long ago turned away from philosophy and theory, for new paradigms to take hold? And even if there is, will new thinking germinate or be disparaged as an affront to the unfinished project of modernity, and counter to our commitments to deliver Enlightenment?
Showcasing a spectrum of ideas from critique to regeneration, the three presentations that comprise this Plenary take up these far-ranging questions to different degrees, and from different angles. Each presentation will last approximately 20 minutes, followed by time for extensive time for dialogue with the audience. Herein Arathi Sriprakash extends her path-breaking post/decolonial perspectives to questions of the environment, challenging us to reconstruct ‘humanism’ by unflinchingly facing our past and its enduring racial exclusions, as a necessary pathway to contemplating the future. Renowned environmental education scholar Stephen Sterling then issues a call for ‘dis-illusioning’ our-selves, as a prerequisite for developing an ‘ecological state of mind’ and reopening the closed world of education. Last, Freya Mathews, author of the widely read The Ecological Self (1991), shares her most recent thinking, an approach that highlights alternative cultural narratives as resources for remaking the metaphysical foundations of both education and philosophy. Together the panelists highlight the many possible touchstones for ‘thinking differently’ that still exist. While in no sense exhaustive, these perspectives point the way towards how we might begin to escape the delusion of ‘human’ exceptionalism and remake the deepest foundations of our field.
Arathi Sriprakash is a Reader in Sociology at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. Her recent work has addressed the politics of knowledge in comparative and international education, particularly the ways in which the field’s epistemic frameworks have been enmeshed in global systems of racial domination.
Stephen Sterling is Emeritus Professor of Sustainability Education at the Centre for Sustainable Futures, University of Plymouth, UK. A former Senior Advisor to the UK Higher Education Academy on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), and a National Teaching Fellow (NTF), he has worked in environmental and sustainability education in the academic and NGO fields nationally and internationally for some four decades, including as a consultant and advisor on on UNESCO’S Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) programmes. Widely published, he is a Distinguished Fellow of the Schumacher Institute, and a Senior Fellow at the International Association of Universities (IAU). At Plymouth University, he led whole institutional change towards sustainability.
Freya Mathews is Adjunct Professor of Environmental Philosophy at Latrobe University, Australia. Her books include The Ecological Self (1991), Ecology and Democracy (editor) (1996), For Love of Matter: a Contemporary Panpsychism (2003), Journey to the Source of the Merri (2003), Reinhabiting Reality: Towards a Recovery of Culture (2005), Without Animals Life is not Worth Living (2016) and Ardea: a Philosophical Novella (2016). She is the author of over eighty articles in the area of ecological philosophy. Her current special interests are in ecological civilization; indigenous (Australian and Chinese) perspectives on (so-called) sustainability and how these perspectives may be adapted to the context of contemporary global society; panpsychism and critique of the metaphysics of modernity; ecology and religion; and conservation ethics and rewilding in the context of the Anthropocene.
Jeremy Rappleye (chair and moderator) is Associate Professor at Kyoto University, Graduate School of Education. He is interested in overcoming divisions between philosophy and empirical social science on the one hand, and Western (predominantly Anglo-American) perspectives and non-Western approaches on the other. His most recent publications include Comparative Education as Cultural Critique (Comparative Education, 2020) and Culture and the Independent Self: Obstacles to environmental sustainability? (Anthropocene, 2019, with Hikaru Komatsu and Iveta Silova).
Futures of Education: UNESCO Initiative to Reimagine Knowledge and Learning (Arjun Appadurai, Karen Mundy, and Fernando M. Reimers, with Sobhi Tawil and Noah W. Sobe as moderators)
UNESCO’s Futures of Education: Learning to Become initiative aims to catalyze a global debate on how knowledge, education and learning need to be reimagined in a world of increasing complexity, uncertainty, and precarity. With accelerated climate change the fragility of our planet is becoming more and more apparent. Persistent inequalities, social fragmentation, and political extremism are bringing many societies to a point of crisis. Advances in digital communication, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology have great potential but also raise serious ethical and governance concerns, especially as promises of innovation and technological change have an uneven record of contributing to human flourishing. This initiative will mobilize the many rich ways of being and knowing in order to leverage humanity’s collective intelligence. It relies on a broad, open consultative process that involves youth, educators, civil society, governments, business and other stakeholders. The work is being guided by a high-level International Commission of thought-leaders from diverse fields and different regions of the world. In November 2021 the Commission will publish a report designed to share a forward-looking vision of what education and learning might yet become and offer a policy agenda. The CIES 2020 session will include as panelists several members of the UNESCO International Commission on the Futures of Education who are active in and well known to the comparative and international education community. They will share their perspectives and also engage with the audience on how knowledge and learning can shape the future of humanity and the planet.
Arjun Appadurai is Professor of Anthropology and Globalization at The Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. He is a leading analyst of the cultural dynamics of globalization. His scholarship addresses diversity, migration, violence and cities. His most recent book (with Neta Alexander) is Failure (Polity Press, 2019).
Karen Mundy is Professor of International and Comparative Education at the University of Toronto. She is a leading expert on education in the developing world and former Chief Technical Officer at the Global Partnership for Education. She has held positions as Canada Research Chair, Associate Dean of Research and Innovation and President of the Comparative and International Education Society. She is the author of 6 books and dozens of articles, book chapters and policy papers dealing with education reform, policy and civil society.
Fernando M. Reimers is the Professor of International Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, as well as Director of the Global Education Innovation Initiative at Harvard. An expert in the field of global citizenship education, his work focuses on understanding how to educate children and youth so they can thrive in the 21st century. He has written and edited or co-edited 26 academic books and published over 100 articles and book chapters focusing on the relevance of education for a changing world.
Sobhi Tawil (moderator) currently heads the Education Research and Foresight programme at UNESCO. In addition to the Futures of Education initiative, the ERF programme also released Rethinking Education in 2015, and subsequent research has focused on a range of issues, including large-scale learning assessments, with the recent publication of ‘The Promise of Large-Scale Learning Assessments: Acknowledging Limits to Unlock Opportunities’.
Noah W. Sobe (moderator) is senior program officer in the Education Research and Foresight programme at UNESCO while on leave from his position as Professor of Cultural and Educational Policy Studies in the School of Education at Loyola University Chicago.
Socialisms in Fascist Times: Intersectional Struggles in the Global South and Global North (Kali Akuno, Tithi Bhattacharya, and Sangeeta Kamat as moderator)
The plenary panel “Socialisms in Fascist Times: Intersectional Struggles in the Global South and Global North” will highlight how grassroots organizations in the United States and globally are fighting for economic justice within the context of the global rise of authoritarian populism. In particular, the panel focuses on struggles for radical alternatives to capitalism, which also contest oppressions along the lines of race, gender, sexuality, caste, and other inequities. Rethinking and remaking education for a more just egalitarian and ecologically balanced society is the challenge before us. The plenary will present contemporary struggles and imaginaries of 21st Century Socialisms in the U.S. and internationally and the pivotal role of education in forging alternatives to racial capitalism, patriarchy and climate crisis. The plenary speakers are two nationally known scholar-activists who will share their experiences of building concrete socialist alternatives in very different contexts in the Global South and Global North, and both the challenges and possibilities of progressive social change in the current political moment. They will also speak to the role of education within these broader intersectional struggles.
Kali Akuno is co-founder and co-director of Cooperation Jackson that is committed to building a solidarity economy in Jackson Mississippi based on Black self-determination. Kali served as the Director of Special Projects and External Funding in the Mayoral Administration of the late Chokwe Lumumba of Jackson, MS. His focus in this role was supporting cooperative development, the introduction of eco-friendly and carbon reduction methods of operation, and the promotion of human rights and international relations for the city. Earlier in his career, he co-founded the School of Social Justice and Community Development (SSJCD), a public school serving the academic needs of low-income African American and Latinx communities in Oakland, California. He is co-author of Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi with Ajamu Nangwaya (Daraja Press, 2017).
Tithi Bhattacharya is Associate Professor of Global Studies and South Asian History at Purdue University. She is known for her work on social reproduction theory and has edited Social Reproduction Theory: Remapping Class, Recentering Oppression (Pluto Press, 2017). She is also co-author of Feminism for the 99% A Manifesto (Verso Press, 2019) with Nancy Fraser and Cinzia Arruzza. She is an active advocate for the teacher strikes in the US, participating and documenting the recent strikes around the country. She is a historian of education in India and has published Sentinels of Culture: Class, Education and the Colonial Intellectual in Bengal (Oxford University Press, 2005). As a scholar-activist, she is engaged in solidarity work with social movements and worker struggles in India and other parts of the Global South.
Sangeeta Kamat (moderator) is Professor of Comparative and International Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. An interdisciplinary scholar, she has published critical essays on NGOs, international aid, neoliberalism, educational inequality and the rise of Hindu nationalism in India. She is co-author of ‘Profiting from the Poor: The Emergence of Multinational Edu-businesses in Hyderabad, India‘ and PI of a collaborative project ‘Inclusive Universities: Linking Diversity, Equity and Excellence for the 21st Century‘. She is author of ‘Development Hegemony: NGOs and the State in India’ (OUP, 2002) and is working on a new book on ‘New Geographies of Power: Globalization, Education and Uneven Development in Hyderabad India’.
This keynote panel is co-sponsored by the thematic track “Education for 21st Century Socialisms: Alternatives to Racial Capitalism, Patriarchy and Climate Crisis”
Beyond the Three Pillars of Sustainability: Taking Environmental Sustainability Seriously in International Aid and Education (David Edwards, Gita Steiner-Khamsi, Dirk Hastedt, Kristen Molyneaux, and Oren Pizmony-Levy as moderator)
The premise of this keynote session is to explore the extent to which international aid – as an organizational field and as a practice – has engaged with the three pillars of sustainability (i.e., the environmental, social, and economic). Although the international community introduced the concepts “sustainable development” and “sustainability” more than 30 years ago and even after the UNESCO’s Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014), there seem to be multiple definitions and understandings of these terms, with the priority given to economic development at the expense of environmental concerns. Furthermore, it is unclear whether the three pillars of sustainability are congruent with each other. We will begin the session with an interactive activity with the audience to facilitate a shared and broad definition of the term. Following that, panelists will engage in a conversation around current practices and the barriers that prevent international aid from taking sustainability seriously. We hope to have a lively discussion on what it means for international aid to be responsive to the most important challenges of our times.
David Edwards is General Secretary of Education International, a federation of 32 million teachers and other educators affiliated with unions and associations in 173 countries globally. Dr. Edwards was named to the position in 2018 after seven years as EI’s deputy general secretary directing education policy, advocacy, research and communications. Prior to joining EI, David was an Associate Director and head of international relations department at the National Education Association (NEA) of the United States. He has worked as an Education Specialist at the Organization of American States and began his career as a public high school teacher.
Gita Steiner-Khamsi, Professor of Teachers College, Columbia University, New York (fall semesters) and The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva (spring semesters). She is Director of NORRAG, a global network of close to 5,000 researchers, policy makers, and practitioners committed to promoting the voices of the global South/East and to advancing equity and quality in educational development. She is a well-published scholar (12 books, numerous journal articles, 3 book series) in the field of comparative policy studies and her work has been published in several languages.
Dirk Hastedt is the Executive Director of the IEA (International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement). He oversees the IEA’s operations, studies, and services, and drives the IEA’s overall strategic vision. Moreover, he develops and maintains strong relationships with member countries, researchers, policy makers, and other key players in the education sector. Dr Hastedt also serves as co-editor in chief of the IEA-ETS Research Institute (IERI) journal ‘Large-scale Assessments in Education.’
Kristen Molyneaux, Vice President Social Impact, Lever for Change an affiliate of the MacArthur Foundation. Kristen leads the Social Impact team for Lever for Change which provides programmatic and technical supports to applicants and grantees. Kristen also co-developed, designed, and launched MacArthur Foundation’s inaugural 100&Change competition for a single $100 million grant to help solve a critical problem of our time. She currently manages various aspects of the competition including scope of initiative, the provision of technical support to competition participants, and due diligence processes. Currently, Kristen oversees the Foundation’s $100 million investment in Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee.
Oren Pizmony-Levy (moderator) is Associate Professor of International and Comparative Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Trained as a sociologist, his research focuses on global educational movements – including international large-scale assessments, environmental and sustainability education, and LGBT education – and their impact on policy/practice. Oren is the founding director of the Teachers College Center for Sustainable Futures. He leads a research-practice partnership with the New York City Department of Education to promote and advance sustainability education.
Race, Politics, and Identity in Bolivian Education: The Inside Story of Bolivia’s Audacious Educational Revolution and the Neoliberal Resistance to Equality (Roberto Aguilar Gomez interviewed by Rebecca Tarlau)
Roberto Aguilar Gomez, Bolivia’s Minister of Education from 2008 – 2019 oversaw an unprecedented time in the expansion of educational access, indigenous rights, educational quality and power for marginalized populations in the landlocked Andean nation. He oversaw the building of schools in rural areas at unprecedented rates, opened intercultural bilingual teacher training programs and ensured that significant increases in domestic revenue went directly to education. However, with the forced departure of President Evo Morales in November 2019, which many refer to as a coup, and the ensuing military rule, the future for Bolivian education hangs in the balance.
The policies seeking to redistribute opportunities and prosperity from Bolivia’s unprecedented economic growth have halted and multinational companies and IFIs are positioning for their moment to continue austerity and privatization reforms.
This keynote panel/moderated discussion will provide a firsthand account from someone who was on the frontlines of shifting educational power within his country as well as taking on the assumptions and biases of the Global Education Reform Movement in the broader space of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This will be his first public appearance since the military takeover to share research and insights from the Bolivian experiment.
Moderated by Rebecca Tarlau
Rebecca Tarlau is Assistant Professor at The Pennsylvania State University affiliated with the Adult Education and Lifelong Learning program, Comparative and International Education Program, and Center for Global Workers’ Rights. Her research focuses on theories of the State and state-society relations, social movements and critical pedagogy, and Latin American education and development.
Unpacking the Geopolitics of Being: On Being and Knowing Otherwise (Vanessa Andreotti, Sarah Amsler, Riyad A. Shahjahan, and Sharon Stein as moderator)
Given the urgent call for redefining what it is to be human and reconsidering a radical relationship between human and other-than-human beings on this planet, this plenary panel will interrogate the ontological and epistemological underpinnings of the educated subject from various ontological standpoints. This plenary will thus interrogate the overrepresentation of a certain Man as the universal locus of human ontology, thus stifling the reimagination of context, purpose and content of education. The plenary will also gesture towards reimaginging our ontological connection with the rest of the world from Othered ontological standpoints (i.e. Indigenous, Buddhist, and so on) and engage in the complexities of striving towards being and knowing Otherwise in education. Issues that will be discussed include questions of datafication, futurity, affect, sustainability, and geopolitics of knowledge.
Sarah Amsler is an Associate Professor of Education at the University of Nottingham, UK. Her work focuses on learning at the limits of the possible and with the ‘otherwise’, ontological politics in projects for systemic social change, pedagogies of possibility and hope, and problems of coloniality in educational practice.
Vanessa Andreotti holds a Canada Research Chair in Race, Inequalities and Global Change, at the University of British Columbia. Her research focuses on analyses of historical and systemic patterns of reproduction of inequalities and how these mobilize global imaginaries that limit or enable different possibilities for (co)existence and change.
Riyad A. Shahjahan (panel organizer) is an Associate Professor of Higher, Adult and Life Long Education (HALE) at Michigan State University. His areas of research interests are in globalization of higher education policy, temporality and embodiment in higher education, cultural studies, and de/anti/postcolonial theory.
Sharon Stein (moderator) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia. Her work draws on critical and decolonial perspectives to examine the role of higher education in society, particularly as this relates to issues of decolonization, internationalization, and climate change.
Anthropologists speak about “Education beyond the Human” ( Vandra Lea Masemann, Lesley Bartlett, Gabrielle Oliveira, Nancy Kendall, Payal Shah, Ayesha Khurshid, and Karishma Desai)
Anthropologists have something to say about “Education beyond the Human” which is different from the views of educators and other discipline-based researchers. In this panel, they are invited to speak about how their research tools and theories have informed their study of human beings in their own particular ecological niche. If we are living in a period of crisis in regard to our environment and our relationship to the Earth, then it behooves us to examine how various cultures in various present, historic, and prehistoric eras have adapted their cultures and their education and socialization to the circumstances in which they find themselves. In industrial societies, we have tended to take our educational model for granted. Now that the Earth’s climate has become “strange” to us, we are uneasy about how to adapt to it, and the “familiar” educational models may no longer serve our needs or even allow us to survive in the very long term.
We are also able to study such adaptations comparatively in the past and in the present. The creation of systems of institutional schooling and the later spread (or imposition) of global standards for educational data-gathering and achievement have led to an unquestioning assumption of the superiority of the Western liberal (democratic) model. This model was supposed to solve the goals of creating citizens to provide knowledge, skills, values and attitudes appropriate for economic development nationally and globally, creating equality, and alleviating poverty. The educational model has been in direct contradiction with the structural propensities of national and global capitalism to further social inequality and to create massive environmental destruction and waste of resources. These structural forces are largely ignored by those who want to ascribe to the formal education systems the chimerical goal of fulfilling individuals’ hopes and dreams.
These developments in the last four centuries or millennia, depending on one’s time-frame, are comparatively recent when compared with the history of human culture or with the history of the Earth itself. Because of the success of formal education globally, many languages and cultures have been lost, marginalized, ignored, or deliberately destroyed. It is anthropologists who have a much longer time perspective to imagine what other forms of child socialization and education might be developed to respond to the current environmental crisis. It is not just the broad time and space dimension that anthropologists are familiar with; they also want to discuss the utility of ethnographic field methods and other more human-centred forms of inquiry where researchers are willing to blur the subject/object divide, to speak to people in their own language, to study other ways of knowing and indigenous epistemologies, to spend long periods of time in the field, and to eschew large-scale impersonal or alienating forms of research.
The presentations for this panel fall into two groups. The first three give a theoretical overview of various types of research questions that can be addressed by anthropologists when considering Education beyond the Human. The second group consists of three ethnographic studies which illustrate some of the compelling issues faced in today’s world. They all focus in some way on the topic of borders and environment: the intersectionality of gender and religion across a border, the movement of children across borders, and the attempt to move children’s knowledge across the border of traditional subsistence working in weaving with looms to compulsory formal schooling. All of the discussion will take place around the anthropologists’ quest to make sense of the lived lives of peoples within their defined environmental context and their contribution to a more pluralistic model of Education beyond the Human.
Vandra Lea Masemann is an anthropologist who has researched girls’ education in Ghana, secondary students’ aspirations, bilingual programs in the USA, and global education in Canadian schools. She has studied immigration and multicultural, intercultural and anti-racist educational policies in Canada, as well as theory and methodology in comparative education.
Lesley Bartlett is an anthropologist who works in the field of Comparative and International Education. Her research and teaching interests include multilingual literacies, migration, and qualitative research methods. She has co-authored several books, including Rethinking Case Study Research and Additive Schooling in Subtractive Times.
Gabrielle Oliveira is an assistant professor of foundations of education at the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College. Her research focuses on immigration and mobility—on how people move, adapt, and parent across borders. She is the author of Motherhood Across Borders: Immigrants and their Children in Mexico and New York.
Nancy Kendall is professor and chair of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on the experiences of children, youth, and communities who are marginalized by economic, social, health, educational, environmental, and political relations, primarily in Malawi and the US.
Payal Shah is an associate professor of foundations of education and qualitative inquiry at the University of South Carolina. Her research and teaching interests include gender and education, specifically in South Asia, and critical ethnographic methods. She is the author of articles across the fields of comparative education, women’s and gender studies, and qualitative inquiry.
Ayesha Khurshid is an Associate Professor of International and Comparative Education and Gender and Education at Florida State University. She employs ethnographic methods to examine the issues of education, gender, and modernity in different Muslim communities.
Karishma Desai is an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University. Her research employs anthropological and transnational feminist lenses to study gendered subjectivities, discourses and practices across various scales with particular attention to the politics of knowledge and aspiration.
Common Worlding and Education in the Chthulucene (Affrica Taylor, Mindy Blaise, Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw, and Iveta Silova as moderator)
Mounting evidence that unsustainable extractive and consumptive human activities have fundamentally destabilized the earth’s geo-bio systems has prompted earth scientists to propose that we are leaving the Holocene and tipping into the Anthropocene, or literally the era of Man (Steffen, Crutzen & McNeil 2007). This Anthropocene proposition has, in turn, triggered a flood of debates across the physical and social sciences about the implications for life on earth as we know, and about how best to respond. Education scholars have been slow to engage with these debates and even slower to contribute to them. Few challenge the discipline’s mid-20th century human-centric learning and development premises that preclude the ecological awareness that is necessary to transform the business-as-usual of education. There are some exceptions, including early childhood and environmental education scholars from the Common Worlds Research Collective. Informed by the entangled feminist, ecological, and decolonising thinking, ethics and strategies of non-educational scholars such as Donna Haraway (2016), Anna Tsing (2015) and Deborah Bird Rose (2004), they have been experimenting with more-than-human Anthropocene-responsive early years pedagogies and methods for some years now (for instance Taylor, Blaise and Giugni 2013; Taylor & Pacini-Ketchabaw 2017, 2019; Hodgins 2019; Taylor 2019).
There is no consensus on how best to respond to the Anthropocene. Cross disciplinary debates have exposed many paradoxes, contradictions and traps. Donna Haraway, for instance, challenges us to think beyond the standard responses to the Anthropocene that typically pivot between heroic and saviour-like techno-fixes and apocalyptic game-over scripts, pointing out that such responses will not get us out of the narrowly-conceived, anthropocentric hole we have already dug (Haraway 2016). She is also a vocal opponent of the name ‘Anthropocene’, because it risks reiterating the lofty human-centric conceits of Man. Her alternative is the Chthulucene, a term she has adapted from Greek mythology. Chthonic beings are creatures of the earth – definitely not lofty. In Haraway’s feminist re-imaginings, they include a host of Medusa-like tentacular female figures with entangling, connective and recuperative powers. The reason she is proposing this alternative feminist nomenclature is not to deny Man’s destructive effects upon the earth, but to indicate the need for responses that offer a radically departure from huMan exceptionalist interventions. She describes the Chthulucene as ‘a timeplace for learning to stay with the trouble of living and dying in response-ability on a damaged earth’ (Haraway 2016:3). This new kind of learning involves re-tracing and re-establishing connective threads between us and other beings, as well as getting down to the earthy business of remaking and recuperating worlds together.
This plenary panel is structured as a conversation between the presenters’ common worlding educational research and Haraway’s (2016) speculative feminist (SF) envisioning of the Chthulucene. By addressing questions raised by Haraway and/or adopting the connective and speculative feminist (SF) story-telling methods she has pioneered, the three presenters will discuss some of the earthy possibilities for common worlding education in the Chthulucene.
Iveta Silova will act as a moderator, bringing her recent conversations with Donna Haraway about education in the Chthulucene into dialogue with the ideas offered by the three presenters – Affrica Taylor, Mindy Blaise and Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw.
Affrica Taylor, Mindy Blaise, and Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw (collective biography)
We share a commitment to exposing and challenging education’s complicity with modernity’s larger project of colonizing minds, peoples and lands, and to queering its normative and anthropocentric binary premises. But our methods do not end with critique and deconstruction. We also experiment with practical ways of articulating our feminist, more-than-human common world ethics into grounded modes of collaborative learning with the world, not only just about it. Our ultimate goal is to enhance the possibilities for recuperative and inclusive cohabitation on a damaged planet. About a decade ago, we established the Common Worlds Research Collective to provide a supportive international network for other feminist researchers and educators interested in similiar kinds of more-than-human relational pedagogies and methods. The Collective now has 68 members from 12 countries. These days, most members are mobilising these pedagogies and methods as a response to the pressing challenges of anthropogenic global warming and mass species extinctions.
Dialogues with More-than-Human Worlds: Approaches to Writing, Methodologies, and Pedagogies (AnaLouise Keating, Kakali Bhattacharya, and Mildred Boveda as moderator)
Typically, we think of dialogue as various types of exchanges between two or more human beings, but how might we define dialogue more broadly, to include encounters between embodied human beings and beyond-human beings and worlds? What can US women-of-color theorists and other traditions teach us about these dialogic encounters? How can we use these encounters to develop transformational pedagogies, innovative research methods, and the intellectual humility that can facilitate this potentially transformative work?
In this panel, the moderator will facilitate a discussion with Drs. Keating and Bhattacharya about their engagement with more-than- and beyond-human beings. The U.S.-based scholars will discuss how their ability to engage in these types of dialogues, within and despite the westernized academy, inform(ed) their approach to writing, methodology, and pedagogy.
AnaLouise Keating is a professor of Multicultural Women’s and Gender Studies at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. Her work primarily focuses on transformation studies, U.S. women-of-color theories, Gloria Anzaldúa and pedagogy. She is the author of numerous publications, including Teaching Transformation: Transcultural Classroom Dialogues, Women Reading Women Writing: Self-Invention in Paula Gunn Allen, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Audre Lorde and The Gloria Anzaldúa Reader. She also co-edited this bridge we call home: radical visions for Transformation alongside Gloria Anzaldúa. She is currently working on two projects including a book on Anzaldúa’s theories, which is under contract with Duke University Press, and a book on womanist spiritual activism, which is under contract with the University of Illinois Press. Her book on womanist spiritual activism will be a part of her book series, Transformations: Womanist, Feminist, & Indigenous Studies.
Kakali Bhattacharya is a professor of Qualitative Research at University of Florida. Her research interests include de/colonizing epistemologies and methodologies in transnational contexts of higher education. She explores technology-integration in social and learning spaces, transnational issues of demographics and socioeconomics in higher education, and sociocultural approaches to qualitative inquiry and educational research. She is also deeply immersed in arts-based approaches in qualitative inquiry. Dr. Bhattacharya is the author of Fundamentals of Qualitative Research: A Practical Guide. She received the 2017 Outstanding Book Award from the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, or ICQI for her co-authored book Power, Race, and Higher Education with Norman K. Gillen, her former graduate student.
Mildred Boveda is an Assistant Professor of Special Education and Cultural and Linguistic Diversity at Arizona State University. In her scholarship, she uses the terms “intersectional competence” and “intersectional consciousness” to describe educators’ preparedness to address intersecting equity concerns. Drawing from Black feminist theory and collaborative teacher education research, she interrogates how differences are framed across education communities to influence education policy and practice. Dr. Boveda earned an Ed.D. in Exceptional Student Education at Florida International University and an Ed.M. in Education Policy and Management from Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Alternate Narratives and Reclaimed Imaginaries: Speculative and Science Fiction in Comparative and International Education (Malka Older, Tricia M. Kress, Casper Bruun Jensen, Karen Mundy as discussant, and Euan Auld as moderator)
Advances in technology, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud computing, and big data are projected to radically alter the futures of societies and education. At the same time, Anthropocene discourses have provoked claims that it is no longer possible to imagine a future without cataclysmic climate change. The twin impacts of disruptive technology and climate catastrophe increasingly challenge human exceptionalism and spur a rethinking of current development trajectories. Mainstream critique has thus far struggled to radically reimagine the status quo (i.e. neoliberal governance and economic growth), suggesting the necessity of embracing different analytical and imaginative tools. To this end, this session invites participants to reclaim imagination, drawing on speculative and science fiction (SF) to understand and inform comparative and international education, and awaken ‘our capacity to feel that there are other ways for a world to exist’ (Stengers 2018, 9).
Departing from the ideal of objectivity that has characterised much research in the social sciences, panellists draw inspiration from various sub-genres of SF across societies to explore alternate narratives and imaginaries, rearticulating the boundaries between what is ‘fictive’ and ‘real’ in more expansive ways. This ‘speculative turn’ is not as radical as it may at first seem. SF worlds can be understood as thought experiments, or laboratories of virtual futures (Brin 2016), and scholars in anthropology, philosophy, and science and technology studies (STS) have all turned to SF as a resource for both thinking about the future and rethinking current social and political arrangements. Scholars from the field of comparative and international education can similarly reimagine society and schooling through the lens of speculative and science fiction narratives. As the author Ursula Le Guin (1989) has pointed out, though SF is a “strange realism,” reality is also strange.
Referencing SF literature generally, or drawing from a specific piece, panellists will address the following questions:
- In what ways might science fiction—often understood as thought experiments or laboratories of virtual futures—contribute to scholarship in comparative and international education? For example, how might fictional representations of AI, big data, impacts of climate change, and so forth, be applied to comparative education research?
- How might SF narratives that utilize the tropes of utopia/dystopia offer a basis for rethinking current political and educational trajectories? For example, how might SF inform ways to address, through policy and practice, the rise of AI and digital technology in education, and/or climate catastrophe?
Malka Older is a writer, aid worker, and sociologist. Her science-fiction political thriller Infomocracy was named one of the best books of 2016 by Kirkus, Book Riot, and the Washington Post. With the sequels Null States (2017) and State Tectonics (2018), she completed the Centenal Cycle trilogy, a finalist for the Hugo Best Series Award of 2018. She is also the creator of the serial Ninth Step Station, currently running on Serial Box, and her short story collection And Other Disasters comes out in November 2019. Named Senior Fellow for Technology and Risk at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs for 2015, she is currently an Affiliated Research Fellow at the Center for the Sociology of Organizations at Sciences Po, where her doctoral work explored the dynamics of post-disaster improvisation in governments. She has more than a decade of field experience in humanitarian aid and development, and has written for the The New York Times, The Nation, Foreign Policy, and NBC THINK.
Tricia M. Kress is an Associate Professor in the Educational Leadership for Diverse Learning Communities Ed.D. program at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, NY, USA. Her research uses critical pedagogy, cultural sociology, and auto/ethnography to rethink teaching, learning and research in urban schools in the US. She is co-editor of the book series Imagination and Praxis: Criticality and Creativity in Education and Educational Research with Brill/Sense Publishers and Transformative Imaginings: Critical Visions for the Past-Present-Future of Education for DIO Press. She co-editor of Paulo Freire’s Intellectual Roots: Toward Historicity in Praxis (edited with Robert Lake) which received the Society of Professors of Education 2014 Book Award. She is also the Chair of the Paulo Freire Special Interest Group for the American Educational Research Association.
Casper Bruun Jensen is an anthropologist of science and technology currently residing in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He is the author of Ontologies for Developing Things (Sense, 2010) and Monitoring Movements in Development Aid (with Brit Ross Winthereik) (2013, MIT) and the editor of Deleuzian Intersections: Science, Technology, Anthropology with Kjetil Rödje (Berghahn, 2009) and Infrastructures and Social Complexity with Penny Harvey and Atsuro Morita (Routledge, 2016). His work focuses on climates, environments, infrastructures, and practical ontologies.
Karen Mundy (discussant) is Professor of International and Comparative Education at the University of Toronto (cross appointed to the Munk School of Global and Public Affairs). Her research has covered the global politics of “education for all”; educational policy and reform in Sub-Saharan Africa; and the role of civil society organizations in educational change. In 2019, Professor Mundy was appointed to UNESCO’s Futures of Education Commission.
Euan Auld (moderator) is Assistant Professor at The Education University of Hong Kong. He holds a PhD in International and Comparative Education & Policy Studies from the UCL Institute of Education. His research to date has focused primarily on international large-scale assessments and their influence on education research and governance, drawing on philosophical perspectives and narrative theory.