Conference 2021 News & Events

Conference 2021

Possibilities in education: Reimagining Connections with People, Purpose and Place

25 – 26 March 2021 | Online


‘The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not to react’
– George Bernard Shaw

Teaching has always been about the art of the possible – working to bring out the ‘possible lives’ of our students and to push the boundaries of the existing order of things (Rose, 1995). In her paper, ‘Teaching as Possibility: A Light in Dark Times’ (Journal of Pedagogy, Pluralism and Practice, 1997), Maxine Greene explores the essence of communality in learning, and how identity is negotiated through our connectedness and membership.  She cites Dewey (Art as Experience, 1931) and Arendt (Men in Dark Times 1968), who considered ‘the problem of impersonality and empty sociability’ taking over from community (p.20).

Although written decades before the advent of COVID-19, Greene’s discussion of ‘empty sociability’ (1997, p.20) has a new resonance for us. In 2020 we have all experienced an intensified and accelerated introduction of on-line and remote teaching and learning; zoom keeps us connected, and modern technology has assured continuity of educational provision. Technology has proven to be a powerful tool, facilitating continued teaching, learning and research. However, the virtual platforms often leave us and our students feeling isolated and disconnected.

During these months we have learned many lessons about education. Yes, we realise that we can achieve much on-line and remotely, and that geographic boundaries need not limit our capacity to engage with one another. We can reach people, participate in programmes and conferences, without ever leaving our desks.   But we have also gained a new appreciation of the importance of people, place and context of education – we know that learning together, with and from one another is key; that the social aspects, the fun and happiness in community, in connecting with others, in stimulating and live encounters, enrich our teaching and learning. We realise that schools, colleges, universities, are valuable sites of engagement, and that they play a pivotal role in the education, welfare and wellbeing of a nation.

The pandemic has provided us with an unanticipated and exceptional opportunity; we can decide to return to the pre-Covid normal, or we can use this event as an opportunity for renewal and reimagining education.  We work with so many inherited aspects of education; are we now ready to embrace a renaissance in education, and to grasp the opportunity to refashion and re-envision education?

The Educational Studies Association of Ireland invites scholars, practitioners, policymakers, emerging researchers and interested others from Ireland and beyond to come together at our virtual conference on 25-26 March 2021, and to reflect upon, debate and discuss the possibilities in education. The rich concept of ‘possibility’ welcomes broad interpretation and interrogation, and we invite papers that consider it through a variety of lenses which include (but are not limited to) sociological, pedagogical, historical, religious, ethical, technological, philosophical, political and economic. The ESAI 2021 Conference will continue our strong tradition of providing a forum for the dissemination of research that considers past, present and potential contributions and influences at local, national and international levels.

Greene, M. (1997). Teaching as Possibility: A Light in Dark Times. Journal of Pedagogy, Pluralism and Practice, 1(1), 13-22.

Call for Proposals

The online abstract submission system is now open for submission of proposals. Please note information about (1) Structure of Abstracts, (2) Presentation Formats, and (3) Abstract Review, before submitting an abstract. You can edit or withdraw your submission up to the closing date.

The closing date for submission of abstracts is  Wednesday 16 December 2020  has been extended to Monday 4 January 2021 at 5pm. 

The abstract submission system can be accessed at