Newsletter 1/2019


Dear members of SIG25 - Educational Theory,

This is the first issue of a new format of our members’ newsletter. From now on we will have a regular newsletter four times per year, with more substantial contents. Given that the contents of the newsletter have some limits in terms of the content that we can share, we have decided to publish the newsletter on a webpage. You will still receive an email from us containing a summary of the contents, but the actual contents will be reached through a link. We are planning a broad range of multimedia and interactive contents, including transcriptions of interviews to key scholars on important theoretical issues, videos (starting from the keynotes of the last SIG meeting in Cambridge), etc.

In order to facilitate communication within our community, the newsletter will now contain a section containing news and announcements shared by SIG members. So, we encourage you to share information you would like other members of the SIG to be acquainted with. These may include information on prospective courses or conference, calls for special issues in journals or books, new publications on themes relevant for the SIG, or any other news you think might interest our members. We will send you a reminder couple of weeks before the publication of the next newsletter, but you are welcome to send us your news at any time.

Call for Coordinators

During the EARLI2019 conference Rupert Wegerif and Giuseppe Ritella are stepping down from their coordinating roles. We wish to express our heartfelt thanks to them for their ground-breaking contribution in establishing the SIG together with Gert Biesta and for helping it to grow and flourish. 

Therefore, SIG25 Educational Theory is looking for a Senior Coordinator (for a four-year term) and a JURE Coordinator (for a two-year or a four-year term), starting with August 2019. We will organize an online voting poll prior to the members’ meeting at the EARLI2019 conference. Each SIG is governed by two SIG Coordinators and one JURE Coordinator, who are responsible for the organisation of SIG activities and the financial management of the SIG (for more info about the role of Coordinators, see here).

All of our members are invited to consider being a Coordinator. EARLI requires that the candidates for the Senior Coordinator role have a minimum period of four years of membership. Moreover, EARLI recommends that the two Coordinators are from different countries; in other words, candidates based on other countries than Finland are encouraged to apply. In case you have questions or want to know more about these positions, please, contact Giuseppe Ritella or Antti Rajala (; In case you are interested in being candidate, please, please email a short biography (max. 200 words), a motivation statement (max. 200 words) and a photograph latest by May 26th 2019. In your motivation statement, you should highlight what kind of future initiatives, improvements, strategic plans and policy decisions you envision for our SIG in the coming years.  

Giuseppe Ritella promised to continue to contribute to the development of our SIG as editor of the newsletter. Members who are willing to cooperate on this are welcome to contact Giuseppe at any time. Many thanks to Tina Kullenberg who already agreed to produce interviews about the role of theory and philosophy in educational research.

We look forward to your candidacy!


The keynote speeches of the SIG 17 and 25 conference in the University of Cambridge in 2018 by Professor Susan Robertson and Professor Emeritus Martyn Hammersley are now available and are featured in this newsletter. In addition, the newsletter features the invited talk by Professor Emerita Anne-Nelly Perret-Clermont.

The theme of the conference was ‘Dialogue between ontology and epistemology: New perspectives on theory and methodology in research on learning and education’. This conference theme was intended to provoke discussions about the relationship between the way in which we go about researching learning and education (epistemology) and how we understand the nature of learning and education (ontology). The theme also aimed to inspire submissions coming from different traditions of theorizing and from a broad range of methodological approaches. The conference offered a space for exploring and discussing theories and methodologies in research on learning and education, and to promote friendly debate and reflective dialogue across paradigms of research.


Explaining education events and experiences: making the case for a fat versus flat (or critical realist) ontology
Susan Robertson, University of Cambridge

This keynote address makes a case for considering critical realism as a meta-theoretical social ontology in developing our explanations of education experiences. I suggest that there is much to be gained by this move. First, as a philosophy of the social, it does important ‘under-labouring’ work in enabling the education researcher to bring together different social theories and methodologies in turn making our explanations from different vantage points and standpoints more robust. Second, in arguing that social realities are stratified (a fat versus flat ontology), and that events and experiences are the outcomes of causal mechanisms activated under particular conditions, critical realists propose new methods for generating explanations of ‘why’ and ‘how’  things happen. In the lecture, and drawing upon my own research on governing education sectors and their actors at multiple scales, I explore the epistemic and moral gains to be had in working in this way.

Is it time to get off the paradigm merry-go-round? A proposal to devalue newness, creativity, openness, and diversity

Martyn Hammersley, Open University

I want to raise questions here about several assumptions that are prevalent in discussions of methodology today, not just in the field of research on learning but more generally. One concerns the value of newness, creativity, openness, and diversity. A second problem is the conflation of methodology with philosophy, as represented by ‘paradigms’ or approaches that are defined in epistemological, ontological, and/or political terms. Over the past fifty years, there has been a significant change in the character of methodological discussion: from being concerned with research techniques, their assumptions and limits, towards becoming (in effect) a bazaar in which diverse approaches are promoted. Paradigm pitches often appeal to the ideas of particular philosophers, extracted from the wider context of philosophical discussion. I will argue that this is not a healthy state of affairs, and that it reflects the weak boundaries around educational, psychological and social research today.

Professor Anne-Nelly Perret-Clermont gave a talk in the session 'Invited Talks on Theory and Method' of the conference. In her talk, Professor Perret-Clermont contributed to a reflection on the questions raised in the theme of the conference. She invited the audience to ask alternative questions on theory and methodology in research on learning and education.


The "untold Piaget": new light on the future of developmental psychology, education and epistemology

Anne-Nelly Perret-Clermont, University of Neuchâtel

Scientific advancement relies on a double movement from "theory construction" to "fact gathering" and viceversa. Scientists are praised for their creativity in methodology, observations and explanations - with interesting cultural and disciplinary differences in the emphasis put on these three elements. But the dependence of these elements on technological development and their "situatedness" in on-going dialogues within often violent power games tends to be forgotten. The descriptions of their socio-material historical settings tend to be blurred. As a consequence, our editorial norms allow us to present empirical and theoretical results in psychology as if they were "universal" and in education as if they were stemming from some kind of soil-less and greenhouse agriculture. We suggest that this perspective prevents research from reaching a fine grained understanding of change in humans and thereby leaves the door open to heavily ideologically loaded biological explanations of evolution that tend to underestimate the complex interdigitating biological, material, and semiotic arrangements that are experienced, produced and imagined. As a contribution to this discussion, we will explore the growth of a young man, in his becoming the famous Jean Piaget, within the worries, debates and socio-material arrangements of his life and times.

Best Paper Awards

The winners of the 2018 Best Paper Awards in the SIG 17 and 25 conference in the University of Cambridge were: Associate Professor Stig Børsen Hansen (University of Southern Denmark) and Dr. Elisa Cattaruzza (University of Neuchâtel, Best JURE Paper). Their research is in the spotlight below.

Stig Børsen Hansen

Stig Børsen Hansen

Bio Stig Børsen Hansen holds a PhD in philosophy (Leeds) and is studying Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. He is currently working at the University of Southern Denmark as an Associate Professor.

Research interest Having previously worked within a fairly narrow area of philosophy – analytical logic and metaphysics – Børsen Hansen has now for some years worked within the field of education, drawing on approaches from philosophy. For example, he explores the themes in metaphysics that are frequently mentioned in the learning sciences, and the logic of analogy remains of relevance to his contribution to discussions of learning transfer, particularly in the discussion between ”classical” and ”situated” cognition.

Current and future projects Together with colleagues and collaborators, Børsen Hansen is finishing up a 4-year research project on transfer of learning. The project includes empirical studies, exploration of design principles, as well as some of the more philosophical aspects of the idea of “moving knowledge around from one context to another”. He is also writing up a book, Philosophers of Technology. It seeks to make the relatively young field of philosophy of technology relevant to the discussion of educational technologies. In future work, he hopes to apply the methodology of value-sensitive design – originating in software design - to the field of education.

Role of theory in research For all the strong criticisms of a ”logic-inspired” account of learning and cognition once leveled from a situated perspective, Børsen Hansen tends to think that some of the criticisms are overdone and too readily accepted. Other than that, the question of theories is really a matter of bringing aspects of philosophy into play: theories of ethics when doing empirical studies of transfer of ethics learning or theories of analogy when discussing cases of learning.

Elisa Cattaruzza

Elisa Cattaruzza

Bio Elisa CattaruzzaPhd, is a researcher and teacher at the Institute of Psychology and Education of the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. In her doctoral dissertation she discusses the potential offered by a sociomaterial perspective and activity theory in designing new pedagogic practices in high education.  She is also trainer and researcher on the topics of formal and informal learning.

Research interest sociomaterial perspectives in education; dialogic pedagogy; sociocultural and activity theoretical perspectives; lifelong and life-wide learning.

Current and future projects Currently she conceives and analyses third spaces in which students, teacher, citizens and researchers act as boundary crossers, by sharing creative inquiry and learning tasks. Promoting actors’ engagement and responsibility is at the core of her educational interests.

Role of theory in research Theory plays a critical role in her educational research and practice. Her recent publications investigate the relationship between theory and the practice by studying the learning movements that emerge in a highly educational boundary zone.

EARLI 2019

The EARLI 2019 Biennial Conference will be held in Aachen between August 10 and August 16. You are all warmly welcome to join the inspiring SIG 25 activities:


The SIG 25 Invited symposiumHow can peer reviewing be made fair for all theoretical frameworks in EARLI and beyond?

SIG 25 on Educational Theory organizes a panel to discuss and debate how theoretical and paradigmatic differences should be reflected in the peer review process and how ‘quality’ is understood in the editorial process. Peer review is a crucial part of what makes scholarly contributions scientifically legitimate. It has always been debated but under recent years these debates have become fierce, with many academics saying that peer review is in crisis. Due to the fragmentation of educational research in the postmodern times, research paradigms tend to have their own journals and publication venues characterized by distinct communities of authors and reviewers and incommensurable criteria of what counts as publishable research. This panel calls for more interaction and debate across paradigms. Such a dialogue requires that attention is paid to the ontological, epistemological and methodological frameworks underlying a given study when assessing its worth. The panel will also discuss important practical issues of peer reviewing and their implicit impact on how quality is determined, such as automated systems and management of big numbers of submissions; relations between reviewers and editors in the editorial process; the dominance of Anglo-American writing style marginalizing other national and linguistic academic traditions, especially of Global South. The panelists have been selected to represent a variety of SIGs and voices in the EARLI community. They all have experience of journal editing and some of them are currently editors in EARLI journals. 



Eugene Matusov (University of Delaware) & Ana Marjanovich-Shane (Independent scholar)

Roger Säljö (University of Gothenburg)

Lars-Erik Malmberg (University of Oxford)

Crina Damsa (University of Oslo)

Rupert Wegerif (University of Cambrige)



Antti Rajala (University of Helsinki)

Giuseppe Ritella (University of Helsinki)


SIG business meeting

The SIG 25 Business Meeting at the EARLI 2019 conference in Aachen will take place on Tuesday, August 13th, from 17:15-18:15. 


SIG dinner

After the SIG meeting, we will have a joint dinner with SIG 10 and SIG 21. More information about the SIG dinner will be provided soon.


Policy Council

The SIG coordinators will take part in The EARLI Policy Council and EARLI SIG Coordinator meetings. If you have any issues that you would like us to raise during these meetings, please contact


Education in the Anthropocene

The fourth issue of on_education is now online! Its topic is Education in the Anthropocene.

Scientists from various disciplines have announced a new phase in earth history: the Anthropocene. Somewhere in the (relatively) recent past we have entered a new geological epoch, characterized by humankind’s unmistakeable and profound influence on the earth system. Climate change is just one (multifaceted) aspect of the global environmental problematic that currently typifies the Anthropocene. Other environmental problems are various forms of pollution of land, water, and air, overfishing, deforestation, destruction of ecosystems, extinction of species of animals and plants, and soil degradation. Since all of these are anthropogenic, i.e. caused by human behaviour, both individual and collective, it seems plausible that environmental education could be one way to (begin to) deal with these problems. But opinions differ on whether environmental education is necessary, whether it is justified, and (if so) what form it should take. These questions are addressed in six thought-provoking contributions:


Randall Curren (University of Rochester) & Ellen Metzger (San José State University): Education in the Anthropocene: A Pragmatic Approach

Michael Bonnett (formerly of the University of Cambridge): Interpreting the Idea of the Anthropocene, and its Relevance to Education

Hanno Su (University of Münster) & Shia Su: Why Solving Intergenerational Injustice through Education Does Not Work

Lesley Le Grange (Stellenbosch University): The Anthropocene: Becoming-imperceptible of Environmental Education

Kai Niebert (University of Zurich): Effective Sustainability Education is Political Education

Marie Brennan (University of South Australia): Changing Teaching and Teacher Education in the ‘Anthropocene’


As always, you are invited to respond to the original contributions. If you don’t agree or have something to add, don’t hesitate to send your comments to Like all submissions, replies receive an initial editorial review.

Best wishes,

The editors of on_education

New publications by SIG members

Here are some publications by our SIG members that might be of interest to the Readers of the newsletter:

  1. Patry, J.-L. (2019). Situation Specificity of Behavior: The Triple Relevance in Research and Practice of Education. In Nata, R. V. (Ed.), Progress in education, Volume 58 (pp. 29-144). Hauppauge, NY: Nova. ISBN: 978-1-53614-950-0. - Addresses issues of the relevance of developing a theory of situation specificity and the impact such a theory could have.

  2. Gastager, A., & Patry, J.-L. (Hrsg). (2018). Pädagogischer Takt: Analysen zu Theorie und Praxis. Studienreihe der Pädagogischen Hochschule Steiermark Band 11. Graz: Leykam. - Addresses the relationship between Theory and practice and a Theory About this relationship.

  3. Patry, J.-L. (2018). Grenzen und Übergänge. Ein allgemeines Konzept, expliziert am Beispiel des Theorie-Praxis Problems. In B. Bütow, J.-L. Patry & H. Astleitner (Eds.), Grenzanalysen – Erziehungswissenschaftliche Perspektiven zu einer aktuellen Denkfigur (pp. 34-61). Weinheim: Beltz Juventa. - Addresses the theory of borders and overcoming them and illustrates it with the analysis of the theory-practice relationship.

  4. Cook, V., Warwick, P., Vrikki, M., Major, L., & Wegerif, R. (2019). Developing material-dialogic space in geography learning and teaching: Combining a dialogic pedagogy with the use of a microblogging tool. Thinking Skills and Creativity31, 217-231.

  5. Hetherington, L., Hardman, M., Noakes, J., & Wegerif, R. (2019). Making the case for a material-dialogic approach to science education. Studies in Science Education, 1-36.

  6. Wegerif, R., & Major, L. (2019). Buber, educational technology, and the expansion of dialogic space. AI & SOCIETY34(1), 109-119.

  7. Matusov, E., Marjanovic-Shane, A., & Gradovski, M. (2019). Dialogic pedagogy and polyphonic research art: Bakhtin by and for educators, doi: 10.1057/978-1-137-58057-3. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

  8. Jean-Pierre Fragnière (2019) Agir Et Penser. Avec Anne-Nelly Perret-Clermont. Lausanne: SocialInfo
  9. Messina Dahlberg, G., & Bagga-Gupta, S. (2019). On the quest to “go beyond” a bounded view of language. Research in the intersections of the Educational Sciences, Language Studies and Deaf Studies domains 1997–2018. Deafness & Education International, 1-25.
  10. Rajala, A. (2019). Expanding the context of school learning to the surrounding communities: A sketch for a pedagogy. Psychology and Society, 11(1), 161-175


Call for a position: Postdoctoral Researcher, philosophy and theory education

Postdoctoral Researcher, philosophy and theory education

The University of Oulu is an international science university, with 15 000 students and approximately 3000 employees. The strengths of the University are its wide multidisciplinary study and research interests, its modern research and study environment, and its good cooperation with international research and education institutes. Its multidisciplinary research structure offers unique possibilities for path-breaking innovations.

Term of the position: 1 September 2019 – 28 February 2022

Research Unit: Values, Ideologies and Social Contexts of Education

This postdoctoral research position is a part of the research project Theory and practice of learning to be a citizen: Experiences from Tanzania and Uganda (CS-LEARN). CS-LEARN is a consortium project which  connecting the Theory and Philosophy of Education Research Group (TheorEd)led by the leader of the sub-project, Prof. Katariina Holma at the University of Oulu, and the research group on Civil Society and Citizenship in Development (CitDe) led by PI, Academy of Finland Research Fellow Tiina Kontinen at the University of Jyväskylä (JYU). The consortium collaborates with the University of Dodoma, Tanzania and Makerere University, Uganda. The CS-LEARN project expands the team’s ongoing research project Growth into Citizenship in Civil Society Encounters (GROW) (AoF 2015-2019), which explores ideas of citizenships in NGO interventions and among community members in Tanzania and Uganda in connection with a notion of learning as growth based on philosophical pragmatism and especially the work of John Dewey. The CS-LEARN project scrutinizes multiple theories, practices and experiences of learning to be a citizen in civil society with case studies in Tanzania and Uganda and develops research methodology for bringing empirical and philosophical research into dialogue in a methodologically sound manner.

The open position will focus on the theories of citizenship and learning. The tasks include conducting philosophical analysis on premises beyond different ideals of citizenship and learning relevant to the CS-LEARN project and selected in collaboration with the PIs. The postdoctoral researcher is expected to have a strong background in philosophy or educational theory. Additional experience in research fields such as development studies, anthropology, African studies or cultural studies is considered beneficial but not obligatory for applying for the post.

The position requires ability to conduct scholarly research and produce publications in English; and capability and willingness to be a collaborative and contributing member of an international research group. The candidate must hold a PhD degree before Friday, 10 May 2019.  

The salary will be set on levels 5 to 6 of the demand level for teaching and research staff in Finnish universities. In addition to the job-specific salary component, a personal work performance component is also paid amounting to not more than 50 % of the job-specific component.

Apply online on Friday, 10 May 2019 at the latest.

Please include the following attachments in your application: 
1) a letter of motivation (max. 3 pages) including a description of your relevant  experience, your motivation to apply for this post, and reflection on why you consider yourself suitable for the post, 
2) a curriculum vitae (max 4 pages) prepared in accordance with the guidelines of the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity (, 
3) a publication list based on the guidelines of the Academy of Finland, and 
4) names and contact information of two referees.

The position is filled as of 1 September 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter. A trial period of 6 months is applied in the position.

For more information on the research project, see

Further details are available from Professor Katariina Holma, katariina.holma(at)