The idea for the Philosophy and Theory of Higher Education Society originated in a discussions in a café in London in 2016.  The group’s members saw a need for a society that could help promote the emerging field of philosophy and theory of higher education and support the efforts of those working in the field.

The group subsequently founded PaTHES as an international learned society; organising and running an inaugural major conference (at Aarhus University, Denmark, in November 2017) and establishing, as the Society’s associated journal, a close link with Philosophy and Theory in Higher Education (edited by John Petrovic).

The Society provides a collaborative space for scholars to come together, in reflecting on the values of the university as an institution and on higher education as educational practices. It aims to be central in the formation and the development of the philosophy and theory of higher education as a recognised field of study.

We seek a multi-generational membership including PhD students, and newer and experienced researchers and scholars.  We especially welcome members from countries coming relatively anew to the scholarly study of higher education.

The Society encourages the widest possible perspectives across philosophy and social theory in illuminating higher education, both what it is to be a student and what it is to be a university in the twenty-first century.  Engaging with concepts such as critical thinking, creativity, sustainability and social justice, the Society addresses challenging issues of the day.

Questions that we pose include those such as:

  • How can higher education help to ensure that students are nurtured for an active role as citizens in a world in which societal, environmental and cultural challenges are disputed?
  • How is knowledge to be understood in the context of the contemporary university?  How, if at all, might an ‘ecology of knowledges’ be advanced both within and across society?
  • How might the student experience be shaped if students are to flourish through the 21st Century?  How might teaching and learning be construed? Which is more important: curricula or pedagogies?
  • How might the university’s responsibilities towards society be understood, not least for a world that is yet to come?
  • Does the university bear any particular responsibility towards the sustainability of planet Earth?

Issues of this kind bring into view many contemporary issues and perspectives – for example, of truth, coloniality, academic freedom, feminism, culture wars, ecology and the digital age, as well as more local issues of the student experience, such as those of transdisciplinarity, playfulness, wonder, surveillance and audit.

Through its highly participative webinars and face-to-face gatherings, its blogs, Newsletter and social media, PaTHES offers a convivial home for all who wish to share ideas on all these issues and others, and from any perspective.  Do feel most welcome to join us.