Philosophy and Theory of Higher Education Conference (PHEC):

Universities under Siege?

PHEC will be hosted by Uppsala University, Sweden 7-9 June 2022

Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, the 4th annual Philosophy and Theory of Higher Education Conference that was planned in 2020 has been postponed twice. We are happy to announce that the conference will take place as a blended physical and online event on 7-9 June 2022!

Papers accepted for the October 2021 conference constitute the basis for the June 2022 conference program. We kindly ask all participants registered for the 2021 conference to remember the deadline 1 November to notify the organizing committee if you will attend, and if you plan to attend in person or online (

Updates on registration and alternatives for participation at PHEC 2022 will be announced.

For full conference details, visit

Download PDF of the Call for Abstracts

The postponed conference has led to an increased activity online – two days of webinars twice a year. In October 2021 the organizers cordially invite you to the following webinars:


October 11th, 2021, at 16.00-18.00 CEST

  • Professor Cris Shore, Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths University of London, UK
  • Professor Wesley Shumar, Department of Communication, Drexel University, USA
  • Professor Susan Wright, Department of Educational Anthropology, Co-Director of Centre for Higher Education Futures (CHEF), Aarhus University, Denmark


October 12th, 2021, at 15.00-18.00 CEST

15:00   Part 1 – Lecture and Panel Discussion

  • Professor Ron Barnett: ‘Woods and Trees: In Praise of the Big Picture’ 
  • PATHES member panel: Why I joined the PATHES community and why I stayed

16:00   Part 2 – Project workshop

  • Thinking together: breakout groups consisting of 2 faculty members and 3-5 junior scholars to discuss your research ideas with PATHES’ senior scholars

For participation in the project workshop, see instructions for submitting a short outline at the webinar page. Submit your outline at no later than October 5.

17:15   Part 3 – Closing session

  • Key points & future steps: Tessa DeLaquil, PhD Student, Center for International Higher Education, Boston College and Dagrun Astrid Aarø Engen, Associate Professor, Department for Education and Lifelong Learning, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, chair a conversation about building a PaTHES research community for junior scholars.

There have already been two seasons of webinars organized by the conference organizers. In 2020 the organizers invited to a two-day webinar on 19 and 20 October 2020 – the original dates of the conference event. The themes of the webinars were “Student Activism and academic freedom” and “Academic experts: on top or on tap?”.

In 2021 the organizers invited to two more webinars – “The University as a Revolutionary Constitution” and “The Persisting Social Structure of Higher Ed. in the Context of a Radical System Change and Expansion”. Both webinars touched on the main theme of the conference.

A huge thanks to the main organizers Professor Sharon Rider and Dr Mats Hyvönen – and the whole organizing group – for their flexibility and engaging spirit and help, greatly appreciated by the whole PaTHES community!

Universities Under Siege?

“The crisis of the university” is a familiar topos in contemporary discussions  about higher education. It is said that the University is facing untold threats from, inter alia, the   anti-intellectualism of populist politicians and authoritarian regimes, the commodification of knowledge from neo-liberal ideas about utility and international competition, the  politicization of teaching and learning arising out of identity movements, the fragmenting of the university in response to stakeholder demands, and so   forth. This conference poses the question: Is this really the case? And, if so, what exactly is being threatened?

Interview with Sharon Rider: Universities Under Siege

The aim of the meeting is to take a serious look at what is ultimately at stake, among other things, by examining the roots of these developments in terms of our conceptions of what is useful knowledge, why it is desirable and what is required to establish, maintain and develop it through our  institutions of higher education.