University of Gothenburg

Jana Bacevic

Durham University, UK

Where is a university?

In 1949, the Oxford philosopher Gilbert Ryle used this question as a guide to thinking about how concepts cannot be reduced to their physical or material components. A visitor to Oxford who would be shown the colleges, the library, and the auditorium could still inquire “but where is the University?”. But the University is both in all these buildings, and not in any of them. Where is the university?

Today, there is a lot of talk about the ‘crisis of’ or changes in the university. But when we talk about ‘the’ University, or even universities, we need to think about what objects, components, or elements this includes. This means we need to talk about the university as a political community (Bacevic, 2019).

Developing the notion of a political ontology of knowledge production (cf. Bourdieu, 1988) the talk considers some of the most pertinent questions of today’s higher education politics – from issues of ‘no-platforming’ and free speech to digitalization and online learning – as examples of ‘boundary disputes’ that make the contours of political communities, such as universities, visible but also open to questioning. It uses these boundary disputes to argue for a reconsideration of what praxis means in contemporary universities and whether it is possible to ‘live together’ what does it mean to live together in a university in the current – politically polarized, economically fragile, climate-change-impacted, and, not least, (post)pandemic – context.


Jana Bacevic is a social theorist and sociologist of knowledge who works as Assistant Professor at Durham University, UK. Previously, she was a research associate at the University of Cambridge and Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Aarhus. Bacevic has published extensively on the theories, politics and policies of knowledge production.

Barbara Czarniawska

University of Gothenburg, Sweden


”Are we going back? If so, where to?”

There is a wide-spread nostalgia, in education like in other areas, to the time “before COVID”. But how was the time before COVID? Do we really want to go back to the past, and if so, will we be able to do so? One obvious prediction is that “hybridization” is going to be the common phenomenon of the future: hybridization of different sectors, of research and teaching methods, and so on. But “going back” could also be an opportunity of restoring educational traditions that we see as valuable, and of getting rid of some recent developments that are not so attractive. The intention of this talk is to start discussion on what we wish to return to, and what we want to avoid.


Barbara Czarniawska holds an MA in Social and Industrial Psychology from Warsaw University and a Economic Sciences from Warsaw School of Economics. She holds the title of Doctor honoris causa from Stockholm School of Economics, Copenhagen Business School, Helsinki School of Economics, and Aalborg University. Czarniawska is a member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, the Swedish Royal Engineering Academy, the Royal Society of Art and Sciences in Gothenburg, Societas Scientiarum Finnica, and a Fellow of British Academy.At present, she is Senior Professor of Management Studies at Gothenburg Research Institute, School of Business, Economics and Law at University of Gothenburg, Sweden. She takes a feminist and processual perspective on organizing, recently exploring connections between popular culture and practice of management. She is interested in techniques of fieldwork and in the application of narratology to organization studies. Latest book in English: Robotization of Work? Answers from Popular Culture, Media, and Social Sciences (with Bernward Joerges, 2021).

Stephen Kemmis

Charles Sturt University and Federation University, Australia


Facing the world: pedagogical praxis through a post-pandemic prism

Universities are not ‘ivory towers’; they have always been engaged with the world around them. Their agile responses to the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrate their robust capacities for self-transformation. As that crisis eases, universities have fresh opportunities to consider how their curricula, pedagogies, and assessments might further be transformed to respond to the range of other crises now confronting the world. In these ways, universities demonstrate that they are crucial contributors to the transformation of students, the disciplines, the professions, and the world.


Stephen Kemmisis Professor Emeritus of Charles Sturt University and Federation University, Australia. He studies the nature and change of practices, principally in education, and developed the theory of practice architectures. He writes on education, critical participatory action research, higher education development, research approaches, and Indigenous education. He is a co-founder of the Pedagogy, Education and Praxis international research network including researchers from Australia, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Colombia, and the Caribbean. He has held university appointments in Australia, the USA, and the UK, and has been a visiting scholar at various universities internationally.

Alessio Surian

University of Padova, Italy


The Diversity Game

“Let's play a game! As of tomorrow the word disabled no longer exists. As of tomorrow, we are no longer looking for words to replace it. Only the proper names of people are allowed: Giulio, Carlo, Marco etc. Simply, going back to the reality of human nature”. So writes my friend and sailing master Mauro Pandimiglio who makes me think of the “refugee” students who are being “included” into our universities. In the past months, across African, Latin American, and Mediterranean local contexts, I had conversations with some of them and with some of the staff in charge of their “integration”. Cultural diversity is at stake here within a mainstream discourse focusing on how to “help” the “other” to “adapt” to the local context. I can’t help thinking of bell hooks writings about "inclusion" and "inclusive" as a transformative process, far away from the mainstream ideas of "integration". And I think that today a transformative praxis should begin by acknowledging the syndemic dimension of the Covid-19 crisis and its evident and latent impacts, upon explicit and hidden curricula.

Is there room to conceive and to practice inclusion as co-evolution, as a process that does not aim at “normalising” the “other”?

Is there room for “commons” within higher education?


Alessio Surian,PhD in Educational Sciences, works as Associate Professor at the University of Padova where he teaches and conducts research since 2001. He teaches Transformative Learning, Participation and Group Dynamics in the Local Development master degree. He is a member of the steering group of the Intercultural and Migration Studies Interdepartmental Centre (CIRSIM). He collaborates with the University of Buenos Aires (Cátedra Libre de Ingeniería Comunitaria), with the Latin American Council for Social Sciences (CLACSO) (as a member of the Critical Pedagogies and Popular Education Working Group), and with three Special Interest Groups of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instructions (EARLI) (10 Social Interaction, 21 Learning in culturally diverse settings, 25 Educational Theories). He consults the Council of Europe and the DG Development and DG Education and Culture of the European Commission on project assessment as well as on studies concerning competences in education. He is an active member of the Padova Freire Group and of the World Education Forum.

Kalwant Bhopal – note! The Keynote by Kalwant Bhopal is cancelled due to family reasons.

University of Birmingham, UK


Black and Minority Ethnic experiences in higher education: social justice, inclusion and white privilege

Drawing on the concept of ‘praxis’ as one which focuses on social justice for the common good, this lecture will examine how Black and minority ethnic staff and students remain marginalised in higher education. It will provide statistical data on the inequalities experienced by staff and students, followed by empirical research on Black and minority ethnic academics in UK and US higher education. By drawing on empirical research, the lecture will also explore how processes of whiteness and white privilege work to perpetuate the white space of higher education. It will also examine how the impact of the pandemic has in fact exacerbated existing inequalities for Black and minority ethnic groups. The lecture will conclude by examining possible ways forward for higher education to engage with a socially just agenda for the inclusion of all groups.



Kalwant Bhopal is professor of education and social justice and director of the centre for research in race and education at the university of Birmingham UK. Her research focuses on the achievements and experiences of minority ethnic groups in education. She has conducted research on exploring discourses of identity and intersectionality examining the lives of Black minority ethnic groups as well as examining the marginal position of Gypsies and Travellers. Her research specifically explores how processes of racism, exclusion and marginalisation operate in predominantly White spaces with a focus on social justice and inclusion. Her recent book, 'White privilege: the myth of a post-racial society' was published by Policy press.