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 call for proposals is now closed. Thank you to all delegates who submitted abstracts.


Conference Registration

Conference registration for ESAI 2021 is now open. Register here

All lead authors must be registered for the conference by Friday 26 February. If you are no longer available to present at this year’s conference, we ask that you please notify us immediately at

The registration fee is €20. As the event is virtual, 50% of the conference registration fee will be donated to an all-island charity.

ESAI 2021 Agenda for AGM

The Agenda for the AGM at ESAI 2021 is available to download here. It takes place on Friday 26th March (online) at 11.15 am.

There is one further place on the Executive to be filled by election at the forthcoming AGM on Friday 26 March. If you are interested in becoming a member of this vibrant team and have an appetite to contribute to the future growth and development of the ESAI, please put your name forward for election. Please complete this nomination form and return to Dr Máirin Glenn at by Tuesday 23 March.

ESAI 2021 Book of Abstracts

The ESAI Conference booklet is available to download here. The booklet includes full details of papers, author biographies, the history of the ESAI, the Lifetime Achievement Award and more. For all registered delegates, the booklet is also available on the Conference Landing Page along with links to sessions.