Higher Education Brought To Life

6th Annual PaTHES Conference

Time: 11-13 June 2024
Place: Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

Main Conference Website

“It is the ultimate task of our existence to achieve as much substance as possible for the concept of humanity in our person, both during the span of our life and beyond it, through the traces we leave by means of our vital activity. This can be fulfilled only by the linking of the self to the world to achieve the most general, most animated, and most unrestrained interplay.”
Wilhelm Von Humboldt [1793] Theorie der Bildung des Menschen.

The theme for the 2024 PaTHES conference is Higher Education Brought to Life.

With this theme, we want to bring education as an aspect of humanity’s living the world into play. We hope that the ambiguity of the theme will inspire you to play with philosophical ideas and to theorise on higher education as we know it and as we aspire it to be. It is an opportunity for creativity, problematization and imagination.

While the theme might suggest that higher education has been removed from or (could be) brought back to lived life, a central question to be addressed is how we as researchers can contribute in developing meaningful understandings of lived experience of individuals, communities, cultures and societies through our research on and in higher education. Approaching this question, we bring into mind the rhythms and everyday life of and in higher education, and understandings of the self and the lifeworld, of bodies and a vivid present, of time, space and place, of sociality and practice, of community and institution.

The theme for the Trondheim conference is also motivated by where the 2024 conference is situated and the Nordic tradition of Pedagogy (Pedagogikk) – a concept that alters its meaning depending on regional contexts. In the Nordic countries ‘Pedagogy’ is a descriptive and normative discipline or field of study rooted in the continental didactic tradition and the ideas of Bildung. The theories and approaches connect both in history and in ideas to other traditions for understanding higher education. We invite you to bring into play local and contextual understandings of education as individual and communal life processes, on the timeless and timely, universal and situational.

Furthermore, there is the notion of hybridity, and the ambiguity and conflation of the dichotomy between the living and not-living. The machinery. The computer. The human. The student. The forest. The community. A living human industry has produced things in our image. And things are no longer inert. We experience that the “things” that we have made to manipulate the world, are now manipulating us, having in some ways gained a life of their own. What have we brought to life, and how? Our living present and history could lead us to believe that a thriving humanity and a living planet are contradictory. Are we producing an end to all life?

Higher Education Brought to Life engages us to discuss the purpose of higher education. Are we educating students to dystopia or to imagine hopeful futures and agency to change the way we live the world? Education is regarded as a cornerstone for societal and personal development. However, in the dominant imperative of today, higher education in particular is often reduced to economic and individual development and gain. Through the conference, we want to think collectively about how higher education can be a powerful place to envision and create future trajectories of societies; how co-existence and peace can be built.

The conference theme may play both on Genesis and on Apocalypse. It may engage our thinking on the very notion of and historicity of higher education and the higher education institutions. Is the University – as an idea, as a space and a place, as living practice – in a coma? We envision the conference as a place to discuss how higher education is brought to life; as a hopeful place – hope in the sense that Ernst Bloch (1954) describes it as a realisation of our humanisation. What living memory do we inscribe in the institutions which we create and nurture through our educational practices and our careers?

The conference Higher Education Brought to Life invites you to engage in dialogues on what is of worth in higher education, and what is at stake, engaging together in bringing to life hope and imaginaries of alternative futures.

The conference will be held in English and is an on-site only event.

Important dates

15 December 2023Early submission deadline- For those who need a letter of acceptance before Christmas
Mid-January 2024Registration opens
16 Febuary 2024Final submission deadline
5 April 2024Deadline peer review process
3 May 2024Registration deadline
3 May 2024Submission of revised short essays

For more information about the conference and to submit your short essay, please visit the main website here.

Organising Committee

Main Conference Organiser: Dagrun Astrid Aarø Engen – dagrun.engen@ntnu.no

Conference Administrator: Ragnhild Berge – ragnild.berge@ntnu.no

Organising Team:

Fadia Dakka – fadia.dakka@ntnu.no

Mattias Solli – mattias.solli@ntnu.no

Patric Wallin – patric.wallin@ntnu.no

External Member: Tessa Celine Delaquil – tdel@edu.au.dk