Previous Conference Themes

UKFIET is best known for its biennial conference in Oxford; our next conference will be in September 2019.  Below are listed previous conference themes:

2017 – Learning and Teaching for Sustainable Development – Curriculum,  Cognition Context

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What is taught and learned form the backbone of education’s contribution to sustainable development. It is through the construction of curricula that knowledge, skills, attitudes and values are prioritised and become the basis for teaching. Such prioritisations of what should be taught and learned are always political, as well as technical and professional. Crucial here too is the rise of attention to what individuals and communities value in terms of a set of capabilities and practices that for them define sustainable development. But, international education policy debates in this millennium have been dominated by access and, more recently, quality issues, without sufficient attention to questions of what is and might be learned and taught, and how. Such debates are timely not only because new understandings of learning are emerging, but also because the settings in which learning and teaching occur are deeply influential.

The global context is significant in setting the agenda. The recent period up to 2015 saw a focus on a ‘learning crisis’ and the realisation that the challenge was not simply to get children into schools but to ensure that they learn more effectively. The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) brings a new insistence on these broader challenges. SDG4 insists on equity, quality and inclusion of lifelong learning, not just schooling, and in all settings, not just low-income contexts. Both SDG4 and the wider set of 17 SDGs, moreover, raise new questions about what different actors think should be learned across all levels and modes of lifelong learning, about a wide range of aspects of life, from energy and water use to promoting peace and gender equality.

A revisiting of the education curriculum is simultaneously a revisiting of education’s purposes. We assume that educational development should: provide all citizens with basic competencies and the opportunity to learn more; reduce inequalities between students and between countries; and encourage attitudes and values that promote greater tolerance and peaceful relations. However, the detail of responses to these imperatives will vary across locations and between different levels of education. For instance, it is important to consider what they mean in adult education contexts, as well as in primary or secondary schooling. Moreover, such questions need to be framed in relation to goals for:

social development that balances equity with incentive, rights with obligations, re-distributive contributions with safety nets, and reshapes the preferences of adults and children to live within planetary boundaries and eschew conflict, and provides for universal basic needs;

political economy that values the future over the present, promotes tolerance and co-existence, contests destructive ideology, and offers constructive pathways towards responsible participation and viable economic strategies;

economic policy that responsibly manages production, consumption and employment, redistributes income and benefits, and creates more investment in well-being and for public services free at the point of use; and

science and technology that transforms health, agricultural and industrial productivity, clean energy production, and the ability to respond to social wants and needs.

We will be addressing the conference theme in six sub-themes

Beyond Literacy and Numeracy: rethinking the curriculum
Pedagogies for Sustainable Development
Enabling Teachers
Developing Capabilities for Sustainable Livelihoods
Assessing Teaching and Learning for Sustainable Development
Inclusive Education for Sustainable Development

2015 – Learning for Sustainable Futures – Making the Connections

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September 2015 will see international agreement on a set of global sustainable development goals which are likely to influence the future work of the education and international development community. The goals promote a vision of sustainable futures which are people-centred, just, equitable and inclusive, and which involve sustained and inclusive economic growth, social development and environmental protection that benefit the children, youth and future generations of the world.

It is becoming evident that developing sustainable futures requires a less ‘siloed’, more holistic, approach to policy, planning and action. Stronger connections must be fostered between the various sectors and disciplinary traditions of education, and with other development sectors such as health, gender equality, food security, water and sanitation, industrialisation, energy and other areas from the proposed Sustainable Development Goals. Stronger intersectoral and interdisciplinary connections need to be forged within the international development research community.

Learning at all ages, whether it be formal, non-formal or informal, will play a vital role in the development of sustainable futures.

The following substantive questions are therefore posed for deliberation and form the conference sub-themes:

In the promotion of sustainable futures:

Whose learning for whose development needs to be prioritised?

What learning values and curricula should be emphasised?

How can pedagogy and assessment support learning?

What educational planning and resourcing systems are required?

What types of evidence are needed to inform learning?

What approaches to learning content, process and planning are needed to prepare for decent and sustainable work?

How should international support and co-operation evolve in the next decade and beyond?

2013 – Education and Development Post 2015 – Reflecting, Reviewing, Re-visioning

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As the Education for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 2015 milestones draw nearer, governments and the wider international community are working to define new development frameworks that address the realities of 2015 and beyond. Education is an important part of this debate.

The UKFIET Conference is designed to contribute to this international process. It is timely to reflect on the origins, construction and evolution of ‘global’ education campaigns, movements, and partnerships, and the evidence that they provide in helping to define new or modified global and national agendas. It is important to review what has been accomplished since global education goals and targets were set in Jomtien (1990) and in Dakar (2000), and to learn lessons from their use and application. Most urgently, there is a need to examine the research and the evidence that should inform the construction of education and development frameworks beyond 2015, set within an analysis of changing global imperatives and new paradigms for international cooperation and research.

Accordingly, the 2013 UKFIET Conference will provide the opportunity for a broad international constituency to:

REFLECT upon the origins, evolution and effects of previous global education development movements;
REVIEW accomplishments and challenges arising from the 1990-2015 era, and;
RE-VISION education and development for the Post-2015 period. 

2011 – Global Challenges for Education: Economics, Environment and Emergency

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Global recession, climate change, conflict and emergency are challenges that have dominated the first decade of the 21st century. They have left few countries untouched. Governments are struggling to redress declining trade, brain drain and loss of revenues. People are migrating from poverty, the effects of drought and flood, and the repercussions of conflict. At the same time, we are witnessing a fundamental power shift in the global political economy. This poses particular challenges for low income countries and their future development.

Education risks being a casualty of these uncertainties. It is a catalyst for growth, environmental protection and peace-building, but it can also marginalise groups. Education is insufficiently central to the debates on global challenges in the 21st century – its voice must be heard.

2009 – Politics, Policies and Progress

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The influence of politics on policy, whether at local, national or international levels, has far-reaching implications for educational development. Globalisation, international aid, the knowledge economy and marketisation are well-recognised terms to describe complex processes which exert powerful and often competing pressures on education systems. In a contested and interdependent arena, they raise urgent questions about progress in education.

How do the dynamics of power influence the framing of educational policy and its commitment to developing human capabilities and social justice?
What do the resulting strategies imply for progress in education and human development, and how they are implemented?
Where is the political will to create programmes which enable and value new forms of work, eliminate poverty, protect environments, and fight disease?
What learning will empower minorities, halt corruption, reduce financial instability and prevent armed conflict?
As education increasingly becomes a traded commodity, how can it transform the lives of those who do not enjoy the power of purchase?
The conference will once again bring together a wide constituency of participants, including policymakers, administrators, teachers, civil society representatives and researchers from all spheres of education and training. They will engage with these and other questions and seek to address future policy challenges.

2007 – Going for Growth? School, Community, Economy, Nation

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Metaphors of growth have continually informed debates on the role of education in the development of children, schools, communities, economies and nations.  The 9th UKFIET International Conference is an invitation to explore the educational implications of Going for Growth in the contemporary world.

For more than 50 years, growth-oriented education has been promoted as a route to economic prosperity, strengthening the market, globalisation, national development, equality of opportunity and poverty alleviation.  With the rapidly expanding economies of China, India, parts of Africa and Latin America, economic growth debates are once again prioritised in development and education agendas.

The past decade, however, has seen increasing concern over patterns of economic management that create unprecedented poverty, degrade the environment and increase inequality, as wealth creation for the few denies livelihood, justice and rights for the majority.  The 2007 Conference seeks to make a further contribution to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014).  The challenge is to ensure that educational policy and practice stimulate personal development and well-being, community learning and social responsibility, along with economic success.

2005 – Learning and Livelihood

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The UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) has suggested Learning and Livelihood as the theme of the 8th Oxford Conference. Taking livelihood holistically, the theme allows us to explore how learning enhances individual potential across the life span, and the well-being of families, communities and societies, in different parts of the world. It invites analysis of old and new approaches to education and training and their relevance to professional, workplace and labour market expectations. It creates a space for comparing the influence of values and purposes of public, private and civil society investment in learning on the later use of human capacities. With decreasing job stability, reduced social protection and unprecedented levels of migration and conflict, it is urgent to consider how learning interacts with respect for human rights, social responsibility and environmental security. It is also important to examine how learning nurtures our spiritual and expressive identities, individually and collectively.  Above all, there is the question as to how we as learners, teachers, researchers, policy makers and other practitioners respond to these issues, and their implications for what we ourselves do.

2003 – The State of Education: Quantity, quality and Outcomes

2001 – Knowledge Values and Policy

1999 – Poverty Power and Partnership