Audience in lecture hall

Symposium: Teaching and learning in a praxis-oriented university

Welcome to a Praxis symposium at the University of Borås 27-28 September 2018! The symposium is for staff at the university and specially invited guests.

Call for abstracts

Universities in the Nordic countries, as elsewhere in the world, are at a critical point historically. In an era characterised by internationalisation, increasing accountability, strong ties between universities and national and regional economies, and imperatives concerning sustainable development, university communities are under great pressure to meet ever-increasing and often competing demands. What is sometimes lost in the daily struggle to meet growing demands is attention to universities’ civic responsibilities and education for the ‘public good’ (i.e., education as praxis), which involves, for example, helping people to participate meaningfully in society and contributing to the creation of a society worth participating in (Kemmis et al., 2014). This is troubling when we consider the implications for teaching and learning in our universities, and ultimately for the students and societies our universities serve.

What is needed at this historical moment is focused consideration of (a) how we can make university education more praxis-oriented, and (b) given current pressures and challenges, the purpose and meaning of teaching and learning in higher education. There are urgent and important questions to be asked and debated: How can we make our educational practices and innovation more informed, sustainable, inclusive, equitable, and responsive to student and societal needs? How are ideals such as ethics, equality, and debate realised (or how can they be realised) in the university curriculum and initiatives? What opportunities exist and/or can be created to ensure that arrangements and practices within our institutions enable, rather than work against, the realisation of praxis-oriented intentions? By considering such questions together, we open up a ‘communicative space’ for deepening our understanding of key issues, addressing pedagogical concerns, and creating new educational possibilities.

With this in mind, a 2-day, university-wide symposium on teaching and learning – in the context of being a praxis-oriented university – is planned for September, 2018, at the University of Borås (UB). The symposium will be an opportunity for staff and invited members of the UB community (e.g., student representatives, community representatives, and guests from partner universities) to come together to theorise and create knowledge about and for teaching and learning in a university environment. The symposium will be framed in the spirit of a critical conversation with the notion of a praxis-oriented university as a starting point – although the question of what it means to be a praxis-oriented university will itself be open for debate during the symposium. It is hoped that stimulating presentations and cross-disciplinary discussions will generate debate and possibilities for teaching and learning in ways that are sustainable and oriented towards achieving the university’s civic, educational, knowledge-related, and profession-related goals. This symposium will be the first of two symposia aimed at provoking thinking and discussion about teaching and learning in a praxis-oriented university. The second symposium (Praxis Symposium II) is planned for May, 2019, and will be open to delegates from universities across the Nordic countries.

The planning committee welcomes paper presentations by participants on the symposium theme. Presentations can be empirically-based, experience-based, or theoretical/conceptual. They can be fully developed papers, or slide presentations. Topics may include, but are not limited to

  • Being a ‘praxis-oriented university’ (What does it mean? Implications for teaching and learning? Is it achievable/desirable/realistic?)
  • Challenges and/or opportunities for promoting student engagement and critical thinking in higher education
  • ‘Good’ teaching practice in a praxis-oriented university (e.g., what it looks like; teaching as praxis; professional learning; the role of reflective practice, research-based education, etc.)
  • Trust, social-justice, and ethics within academia and implications for teaching and learning
  • Sustainable education (e.g., What does this mean? What are we doing? What ought to be done?)
  • Management and governance in a praxis-oriented university (e.g., quality assurance, ‘pedagogical leadership’) and implications for teaching and learning
  • The influence of global phenomena on local teaching and learning (e.g., globalisation, digitalisation, knowledge economy)

The symposium program will be organised in such a way that participants have opportunities to discuss ideas in keynote and other presentations, to establish interest groups, and explore potential collaborations. 

Abstract submission

Presentation abstracts of no more than 150 words are to be submitted to Kathleen Mahon by email by 20 March, 2018 (kathleen.mahon@hb.se). Presentations will be 30 minutes in length (including 15 minutes for discussion). Presentations can be in Swedish or English. The language of presentation should be clear in/from the abstract.