1st Global Conference: The Value of Knowledge

This conference will address the explicit and implicit understandings of the place of knowledge in contemporary society. Once upon a time the value of knowledge for its own sake was taken for granted; indeed, it represented the highest ideal of the progressive notion of education as a process that not only taught for and about something, but, most importantly, was deeply engaging as it enlightened and ennobled. Arguably, in recent decades there has
been a move away from that position, most particularly so with respect to higher education. If true, what are the values that currently underwrite the structures and practices of education, especially in the tertiary sector? More broadly, what are the social and cultural factors that underlie these values?

These are very general questions. Some indicative themes are suggested below to indicate the types of issues that might be addressed in conference papers and workshops.

A. History.
How have things changed - and why? Has there been a change in the philosophy of education and the valuing of knowledge - or is what we now have merely an attrition of these? Is educational leadership unduly pragmatic? What are the specific trends in contemporary education at high school and university level that stand in need of being questioned? What is the role of expediency at the coal face of learning?

B. Life-Long Learning.
What are the different meanings of the slogan Life-Long Learning? What moral, practical and educational principles underlie this idea? Is Adult Education still alive and well - and if so, what are its purpose and standing in contemporary society? What about The University of the Third Age? To what xxtent are these practices cognate in spirit with contemporary formal education?

C. The Objectification of Knowledge.
Is knowledge a commodity? What, if anything, is the difference between knowledge and information? Is teaching (still) a vocation? What is the place of various types of credentials in contemporary society? Why are books and novels that are based on research currently so popular? What underlies the attraction of publicly presented competitions and quiz shows?

D. The Influence of the Internet.
As the result of the plethora of information offered by the various search-engines, do we know more and understand less? Does information retrieval via the Internet affect differentially knowledge and understanding in different fields? Does the Internet implicitly emphasise output rather than input? Are Virtual Education practices affecting the self-understanding of practicing pedagogues?

E. Improvements.
The above themes imply a critical approach to contemporary developments. What are some of the good things that have happened to education, learning and knowledge in recent times? Are we developing ideals and values that are more meaningful to most people living in the contemporary, increasingly global, world?

For papers with a specific focus on Higher Education, the following areas should be considered:

1. The Nature and Purpose of Higher Education
Themes can include: the nature and aims of (higher) education; what a place of higher education should be; historical traditions which shape higher education; the role of liberal arts education; 'instruction', 'training' and 'vocational training'; the changing roles of and between universities, colleges, and polytechnics; the 'usefulness' of education; the 'value' of education; learning and distance learning; learning and open learning

2. Virtual Learning and Higher Education
Themes can include: Emerging technologies within Higher Education; International technology challenges; Organizational issues/strategies in Virtual education; Financial issues (faculty pay/time tabling/benefits); Part-time staff/ adjuncts' role between traditional and virtual universities; contemporary best teaching practices; International educational experiences/lessons; Case studies of experimental projects; Blended Learning approaches; Professional development/ support structures

3. Society, Culture and the of Places of Higher Education Themes can include: the role of places of higher education in society; the social and institutional contexts of the university and college; the needs of society; reconceiving the place and work of the university and college; multicultural and intercultural education; linguistic and cultural diversity in higher education; anthropologies, sociologies and philosophies of higher education

These are intended as illustrative themes and proposals on related areas are encouraged. Panel proposals, workshops and joint presentations are also elcome.

Papers will be considered on any related theme. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 17th November 2006. If your paper is accepted for presentation at the conference, an 8 page draft paper should be submitted by Friday 19th January 2007.

All papers accepted for and presented at the conference will be published as an ISBN eBook. Selected papers accepted for and presented at this conference will be published in a hard copy themed volume.

300 word abstracts should be submitted to both the Organising Joint Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, PDF or RTF formats.

Mira Crouch
School of Sociology and Social Anthropology,
The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Email: m.crouch@unsw.edu.au

Dr Rob Fisher
Priory House, 149B Wroslyn Road,
Freeland, Oxfordshire OX29 8HR
Email: tvk1@inter-disciplinary.net

The conference aims to bring together people from different areas, disciplines, professions and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting.

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For further details about the conference please visit: