Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at
Educational Philosophy and Theory
ISSN: 0013-1857 (Print) 1469-5812 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rept20
Reimagining the new pedagogical possibilities for
An EPAT Collective Project
Michael A. Peters, Fazal Rizvi, Gary McCulloch, Paul Gibbs, Radhika Gorur,
Moon Hong, Yoonjung Hwang, Lew Zipin, Marie Brennan, Susan Robertson,
John Quay, Justin Malbon, Danilo Taglietti, Ronald Barnett, Wang Chengbing,
Peter McLaren, Rima Apple, Marianna Papastephanou, Nick Burbules,
Liz Jackson, Pankaj Jalote, Mary Kalantzis, Bill Cope, Aslam Fataar, James
Conroy, Greg Misiaszek, Gert Biesta, Petar Jandrić, Susanne Choo, Michael
Apple, Lynda Stone, Rob Tierney, Marek Tesar, Tina Besley & Lauren
To cite this article: Michael A. Peters, Fazal Rizvi, Gary McCulloch, Paul Gibbs, Radhika Gorur,
Moon Hong, Yoonjung Hwang, Lew Zipin, Marie Brennan, Susan Robertson, John Quay, Justin
Malbon, Danilo Taglietti, Ronald Barnett, Wang Chengbing, Peter McLaren, Rima Apple, Marianna
Papastephanou, Nick Burbules, Liz Jackson, Pankaj Jalote, Mary Kalantzis, Bill Cope, Aslam
Fataar, James Conroy, Greg Misiaszek, Gert Biesta, Petar Jandrić, Susanne Choo, Michael Apple,
Lynda Stone, Rob Tierney, Marek Tesar, Tina Besley & Lauren Misiaszek (2020): Reimagining the
new pedagogical possibilities for universities post-Covid-19, Educational Philosophy and Theory,
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/00131857.2020.1777655
Published online: 25 Jun 2020. Submit your article to this journal
View related articles View Crossmark data
THE LONG READ
Reimagining the new pedagogical possibilities for
An EPAT Collective Project
Michael A. Peters , Fazal Rizvi, Gary McCulloch, Paul Gibbs, Radhika Gorur,
Moon Hong , Yoonjung Hwang, Lew Zipin, Marie Brennan, Susan Robertson ,
John Quay, Justin Malbon, Danilo Taglietti, Ronald Barnett, Wang Chengbing,
Peter McLaren, Rima Apple, Marianna Papastephanou, Nick Burbules,
Liz Jackson, Pankaj Jalote, Mary Kalantzis, Bill Cope, Aslam Fataar, James Conroy,
Greg Misiaszek, Gert Biesta, Petar Jandri
c, Susanne Choo, Michael Apple,
Lynda Stone, Rob Tierney, Marek Tesar , Tina Besley and Lauren Misiaszek
Michael A. Peters
and Fazal Rizvi
Beijing Normal University, Beijing, PR China;
Melbourne University, Melbourne, Australia
Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to ‘normality’, trying to stitch our
future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the
midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have
built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. Historically, pandemics
have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no differ-
ent. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through
it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead
ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little lug-
gage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.
Arundhati Roy, Pandemic is a Portal, The Financial Times,https://www.ft.com/content/10d8f5e8-74eb-11ea-
The economist Robert J. Shiller argues there are two related COVID-19 pandemics –the health
pandemic and an associated economic one based on the fears and anxieties of the first.
two are related: business closures, historic levels of unemployment, market volativity and crashes,
and financial anxiety based on the affect heuristic.
Oil demand is at its lowest for decades and
oil producers have curtained production to stop prices declining further. Those industries
based on travel, tourism, hospitality, retail, and international education will continue to
experience on-going problems in the foreseeable future.
The issues surrounding COVID-19 and various policy responses to its salience in communities
across the world do not however relate to health and economic issues alone. They have also given
rise to issues of sociality –how, under the new conditions, might people within and across com-
munities relate to each other, and what new cultural and social formations might emerge in their
aftermath. How might we need to rethink and reimagine issues of global interconnectivity and
CONTACT Michael A. Peters firstname.lastname@example.org
ß2020 Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY
interdependence? How might they lead to the emergence of a new kind of world society? And
for us as educators, how might we rethink the basic purposes of education, and the pedagogic
models better suited to the ever-present possibilities of insecurity, risk and relentless change?
In the wake of COVID 19, universities around the world have been closed for instruction on
campuses. Most are transitioning to online remote course instruction and learning for the semes-
ter. Universities have suspended study abroad programs.
A number of Australasian universities,
dependent on international students, especially Chinese students, have simply closed down
for the semester. The loss of international students across Australasian universities could be 40
billion dollars, says QUT Margaret Sheil, leading to the devastation of the IE market.
world, many universities have also closed.
As Steve Elers reports, ‘Education institutions around the world are scrambling to prepare for
online teaching and learning because of the coronavirus threat’. In the United Kingdom, he
notes, ‘most universities across the UK have suspended face-to-face teaching and moved to
online learning. In the United States, many universities are doing the same by moving all their
classes to online mode, including most of their highest-ranked universities, such as MIT, Stanford,
Caltech, Chicago, Princeton, Cornell, Pennsylvania, Yale, Columbia, Johns Hopkins and Duke’.
Chinese universities were the first to ‘go viral’(an unhappy expression) with their courses
moving all of their teaching online, some 30 million students at 3,000 institutions. Little thought,
so far, has been given to continuing research online, although it already lends itself to online
communication and knowledge sharing. The clear bias against online teaching that would never
match the real thing, is destined to become a thing of the past.
It is a forced change that may
well break this expectation and become a game changer, if only as a national fail-safe back-up
plan. The much-hyped development of MOOCs only a few short years ago was predicted
to change the face of the university. It did not. No doubt Chinese students will recalibrate their
priorities in face of differential rates of infection and death among US, UK, and Australian
The shift to online classes is not as easy as it sounds with all sorts of problems of delivery,
staff expertise, and student engagement.
Given that fact that there is a history of online and
open education that extends back before the development of the internet it is surprising,
perhaps, that universities –the institution that might have led the way in online teaching and
the delivery of online courses –should be so slow to offer such courses and so problematic
with digital versions and assistance to international students.
Digital pedagogies are of course not neutral with respect to the kind of sociality they
encourage. Since a core function of education has always been social and cultural formation, the
question arises as to what kind of sociality is possible when students and their faculty only meet
in the digital space. In recent years, universities have promoted the idea of global citizenship.
We need to ask what challenges they might now face if pedagogic and cultural exchange is to
take place for a growing number of international students in the virtual space only. Also
important of course are the issues of inequalities of access and outcomes in the new pedagogic
spaces, and how they might be mitigated both within and across nations.
The COVID-19 pandemic offers us the opportunity to rethink not only new digital, online, and
pedagogical possibilities but also the basic purposes of education, and how renewed vision of
education might be harnessed to develop more democratic and just societies. To that end, we
have invited a group of scholars for around the world to reimagine the emerging conditions,
based on our capacity for making informed predictions but grounded also in an ethics
In what follows, we reproduce a number of think pieces from scholars whom we invited to
participate in this collective writing exercise. Their thoughts represent a diversity of perspectives,
opinions and provocations. Collectively, however they indicate their determination to use the
COVID-19 crisis to describe their experiences of working through the current conditions,
reconsider some of the contradictions that have long existed in the modern systems of higher
2 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
education, and imagine new pedagogic possibilities in which we have no other option but to
experiment, under the conditions of distress, uncertainty and complexity.
Covid-19, education and the new abnormal
University of London, London, UK
In what sense is the COVID-19 pandemic ‘new’? Historically speaking it is a reassertion
of the normal, or as the historian William McNeill might well see it, the latest counteroffensive
by infectious diseases against the specifically modern growth of human resistance to pestilence
and plague. In his classic work Plagues and Peoples, McNeill argued that eventually what he saw
as the familiar ecological pattern of mutual accommodation between human hosts and parasites
was almost sure to prevail. Indeed, he concluded, although it now required imagination
to understand what infectious diseases meant to humanity even a few short generations ago,
infectious disease would last as long as humanity itself, and would continue to be ‘one of the
fundamental parameters and determinants of human history’.
So, taking the long view, this contemporary plague is itself the normal, while heightened
resistance to such pandemics is a function of modernity, and late modernity at that. What is
novel is the particular nature of the collision between a potent strain of disease and human
society at a particular stage of globalization. International travel and the digital revolution have
transformed global communications. At the same time, at least in the West and in the most
privileged social classes, scientific and medical advances have created an illusion that humanity
can control or insulate itself from the demands of nature and the limitations of the planet. The
combination of these features with the coronavirus creates a shock to the system, a disillusion-
ment leading to profound social, economic and educational consequences: the new abnormal.
When the initial shock has passed, what can we expect for the future? Again, a glance back
at our history can provide some clues. The world wars of the twentieth century provided a
stimulus to social change, as the leading protagonists resorted to state control and collectivist
methods to conduct total war which had lasting social effects. Elites tended to survive even if
they had to adapt to new conditions, but significant social reforms including in education were
possible. Especially where reformers were able to move quickly before the immediate radicalizing
effects of stimulus wore off, and the economic effects of warfare took over, progressive ideas
have often become mainstream. Where they hesitated, the opportunity was lost.
It seems likely too that there will be a nostalgic yearning for a golden age, when diseases
seemed to be largely eradicated and there appeared to be no social limits on growth. A renewed
understanding of world history is of paramount importance as a counter to this. And it may be
that neoliberalism, the dominant social and economic influence of the past generation, will now
face its greatest test. How can a free market contend with the forces set loose by a pandemic
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 3
that respects no private interests? It may indeed be that environmental concerns, living within
the resources of the planet and supporting public health, can take center stage, even to help
displace the strongest of current orthodoxies. If so, the fresh thinking of the new abnormal may
indeed have a chance of challenging the ancien regime.
Transdisciplinary possibilities after the pandemic
Middlesex University, London, UK
The juxtaposition of politics and science (as if they were not intertwined) is a feature highlighted
by this pandemic. Scientists provide reified guesses and politicians excuses or at least that is one
way of looking at it. More seriously, the hegemony of science replaces one system of control by
another, supported by the oversimplified sophism of politicians. It is as if we ought to be in awe
of the scientists alongside our political betters, whose fake empathy is evidenced in the transla-
tion they offer of what we don’t understand in forms of an infantilised discourse more worthy of
a scary science fiction novel than our responses to Covid19. Their attempts to draw us closer in
our shared plight actually only extends to within their own elite social distancing parameters.
Our scientific efforts have seen research money focused and energy directed toward a solution
however imperfect that might mean: a quick fix through some systematic process which will
give us hope of returning to normality even if such a return is a wasted opportunity for change.
I do recognize the good which science can do, but also recognize its limitations and its dark
side. They include letting the scientific, evidenced based, outcome narrative replace totally any
other form of judgment in society and of necessity lead to further declines in the humanities
within universities. The opportunities this pandemic offers are a chance to ensure our universities
are not places for intellectual technicians but for people of thought trained to think essentially,
Our universities need to ensure they reconstruct their curricula recognizing it is the individual
will that precedes intellect and in what we teach, or are taught, should embrace a unity, truth
and goodness of all being. Such thinking is sustainable, transdisciplinary thinking and should not
be an afterthought of metrics, models and experiments but as a feature of these. Universities
need to guard their students from the totalizing rhetoric of science and to teach their commun-
ities to critically appraise science and contextualize within a discourse of love, empathy and sym-
pathy. We need universities to function as places of compassion, learning and above all wisdom;
not as forms of the machinations of government and commercial interests focused on profit
Universities have the possibility to emerge from this pandemic as places of compassion, of
wisdom and worthiness. They were far from that before the pandemic, where neoliberal interests
influenced not just the structure of the curriculum, the economics of scale in teaching and in
the profitability of its colonized expansion and exploitation, but also in the self-deceit of its aca-
demics, their administrators and their marketing professionals. The possibilities are for univer-
sities to speak to the truth as they can know it, provide truth based on facts, argument and
spirituality. They can become places where prior privilege does not give priority in engagement,
where international respect flourishes for their students, not for their bank accounts, where rec-
ognition of diversity, equality and inclusion are the premises of formalized education and where
humanity can flourish with the transdisciplinary humility the rest of our world is owed. The
opportunity is a new educative focus not a new business model.
4 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
Course correction: Disciplines in the post-COVID world
Deakin University, Geelong, Australia
The caption reads The Long March - 90-year-old Kajodi on her 400-km trek (Jameel, 2020). The pic-
ture shows a frail woman, swaddled in shawls, stick in hand, shuffling down an empty highway
that stretches miles on either side. Stranded in Delhi when the Indian Prime Minister mandated
a COVID lockdown with four hours’notice late one evening, Kajodi epitomized the plight of
migrant daily-wage earners who faced the choice of dying of starvation in the city or chancing a
walk of hundreds of kilometers to their villages where their families would feed them. It was a
powerful image –and it affected Indian virologist Shahid Jameel profoundly:
Relying on public health principles, I was advocating social distancing and a lockdown …. But wasn’tI
being completely blinkered by the science, and not paying attention to the ‘public’in public health?
Indeed, I was …and I was angry with myself. (Jameel, 2020)
While pandemics are at once biological and social phenomena, Jameel muses, nothing in their
education prepares students of science, engineering and medicine to think about how their
work might affect individuals and societies. Nor is that myopia limited to doctors and scientists;
Jameel argues that humanities students are often suspicious of technology, and ‘can be prone to
fake news about technology, disease and health’. Economists appear to be similarly ill trained:
[The mainstream economics taught in universities and business schools over the past 40 years] supported
the just-in-time business culture in which redundancy in supply chains was considered a waste of time and
money and the free flow of capital across borders to create more economic growth was always a good
thing, despite any inequality and financial fragility they might create. (Foroohar, 2020)
Confronted with the complex, exponential systems of the pandemic, Foroohar argues, econo-
mists are bringing the same linear logic that have created many of the problems so brutally
exposed by COVID-19.
What lessons do these insights hold for higher education? There have long been arguments
that global terror, pandemics, climate change and other problems-without-borders required inter-
disciplinary approaches. Interdisciplinarity became a buzzword in research, but in practice, it has
had little influence on research and even less on university curricula and teaching. Research collab-
orations have mostly been between cognate disciplines –and then largely in the natural sciences.
Practices of peer review and evaluation criteria of research grant applications make interdisciplinary
research applications somewhat risky. Publishing interdisciplinary work is challenging –reviewers
are usually expert in only one field and there are few journals for interdisciplinary papers.
But the argument I want to make here is not for interdisciplinarity per se, though I certainly
support it. Rather, I am advocating an expanded notion of the disciplines themselves. Going
beyond the ‘silos’argument, I want to push for a fundamental shift in how any discipline is
defined –what its purposes are said to be, how it ‘disciplines’its students to think and what it
trains students to do. Universities have warm and fuzzy mission statements about solving global
issues, but these ideas disappear from the nitty-gritty of disciplinary curricula. What is required is
more than just making ethics and social justice part of every curriculum; we need to sharpen our
understanding of how our actions in every field –even our day-to-day lives –affect humankind.
‘Impact on the planet’should be an integral part of disciplinary knowledge; not as a six-week
course in Semester One or an ungraded hurdle requirement, but fundamentally underpinning
the discipline itself. Orienting each discipline toward an understanding of how decisions in that
field affect society, with case studies that evaluate past contributions and effects, would ground
and render practical the abstract missions and visions that universities espouse. At the school
level, some curricula, such as the International Baccalaureate programs, do make a commitment
to this kind of thinking, and they may offer some lessons to universities.
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 5
Beyond reimagining disciplines, a fundamental redefinition of the university’s role in society is
urgently called for. A commitment to the health of the planet should extend to research ‘impact’
analyses too –we are rewarded for larger grants rather than larger benefits to society. We are
lauded for making our expertise exclusive, attached to larger consultation fees, rather than inclu-
sive. In a pleasing response to COVID ‘lockdowns’, many podcasts, articles, museum collections
and research papers were freed from behind firewalls. Why are these are not always freely avail-
able to the public? Universities should seriously consider making all their research open access
post COVID –prioritizing society over publishing houses. This is another way for universities to
demonstrate their commitment to equity and the health of the planet.
All this is by no means easy. For example, while nearly half a century of work by scholars in
Science and Technology Studies (STS) has set up flourishing STS departments in leading univer-
sities, their insights have failed to penetrate science disciplines or become a compulsory part of
scientific training. Scientists are not trained to think about the social nature or the social impact
of their work. Imagine if engineers at Facebook or Cambridge Analytica had been thoroughly
grounded in ethics and deeply aware of the social impact of their work. Trump might not have
been President today, and there might have been far fewer dead due to COVID-19.
While the pandemic has brought into sharp relief the ways in which the apparently rational
logics of disciplines may singularly fail societies, and the devastating effects such failures can
have, the warning signs have been there for decades. A system based on over-consumption has
been steadily depleting the planet and deepening inequalities. We have already seen how the
poor and those with disabilities have been disproportionately affected, and how the slowing
down of trade has resulted in a healthier environment. It is sobering to think that the politicians,
scientists, engineers and economists now in critical decision-making positions were once in our
universities, fresh-faced and starry-eyed. The cost-benefit analyses and the modeling and the eth-
ical commitments they bring to their task are what they learned (or failed to learn) in our classes.
The task ahead of us may not be easy, but can we afford to fail again?
Foroohar, R. (2020). Economists need to abandon their comfort zones to deal with COVID-19. Financial Review.
Online, Nine Publishing. https://www.afr.com/policy/economy/economists-need-to-abandon-their-comfort-zones-
Jameel, S. (2020). In India, COVID-19 pandemic has painfully laid bare our societal fault lines. Outlook. Online,
Outlook Publishing (India) Pvt. Ltd. https://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/business-news-opinion-in-
Re-purposing university teaching-and-research post-C-19: A socio-ethical case
Lew Zipin and Marie Brennan
Victoria University, Footscray, Australia
The Covid-19 pandemic should prompt universities, on socio-ethical grounds, to reverse aca-
demic workforce restructurings that reduce the portion who teach-and-research. Yet governmen-
tal responses are apt to intensify separations of ‘teacher’from ‘researcher’, with fewer doing
meaningful research and scholarship. We touch on why this is so after first making our socio-eth-
ical case to expand the teaching-and-research portion.
We see urgent need to re-purpose academic labors toward new ways of caring for local and
planetary futures. Burgeoning crises of climate, economics, politics, culture –and unjust power
relations across these domains –preceded and fueled the pandemic, which accelerates them
further. As Berlant (2016) notes, these broadly structural crises of ‘built and natural worlds’
(p. 409) are apprehended by most people as ‘glitches’in infrastructure, i.e. their ‘lifeworld
of structure’that provides food, health, transport and ‘all systems that link ongoing proximity
6 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
to being in a world-sustaining relation’(p. 393). Infrastructures are complex assemblages; their
fragilities are not simply resolved; and local communities, in life-sustaining reliance on them,
deserve supports from relevantly knowledgeable academics. Yet, more than visits of expertise,
people need projects that build life sustain-abilities:i.e. citizen capacities to collaborate,
across diverse community groups, on ‘problems that gather them together’(Pignarre &
These are socio-ethical capacities to care-take toward more viable and just future life with
others: a ‘care of the possible’(Stengers, 2011, p. 12) that fuels courage and agency to ‘stay with
the trouble’(Haraway, 2016). Crucial is capacity to pro-act with others knowledgeably. Crisis-
linked ‘problems that matter’(Zipin, 2020) are emergent; and so, then, are knowledges useful to
address them, including ‘funds of knowledge’(Moll, 2014) that emerge among diverse groups
who live the problems. Academics who bring disciplinary knowledge to situated problems thus
need to learn-and-teach with diverse people in those lifeworlds. Such research into mattering
problems is thus also a pedagogic praxis of dialogic democracy in which all participants, in
‘apprenticing’to the problem (Pignarre & Stengers, 2011, pp. 76–77), build citizen-capacities to
work with and on –to make –knowledge of emergently richer use-value.
For academics to contribute to what are, at once, teaching-and-research capacities of citizens,
they need practiced strength in both dimensions. This applies to educative work in community
and classroom spaces; and it would be good to connect student’s classroom-based education to
citizenship interaction with mattering problems in life-world spaces of their emerging futures-
with-others. Modest portions of academics in given universities might mainly ‘teach’or ‘research’
(as defined in workload models); but they all should interact within robust teaching-and-research
cultures sustained by a healthy core portion who combine both.
Along with sizeable numbers, a healthy portion means correcting trends to steal research and
community-service time via workload models that leave much real work un(der)counted. Yet dec-
ades of governance crisis here weigh heavily. Governance apparatuses increasingly perform ideo-
logical functions of simplifying the complexities of lived problems (Zipin, 2019). Thus, federal/state
executive bodies apply narrow political-economic logics to reduce university funding and impose
market-competition criteria. In turn, university ‘leaders’invest in fewer ‘high-performer’research-
ers while milking lower-payroll ‘productivity’from overworked teaching-only staff, given the sim-
plistic justification –shared by university and state/federal governance bodies –that students
primarily need teaching ‘specialists’to train them in ‘skills for future work’(amplified in Brennan
& Zipin, 2019; Zipin & Brennan, 2019). These trends already accelerate under pandemic-induced
budget crunches and ‘snap back the economy’logics.
Yet counter-senses of perilously complex social futures also abide not just among academics,
but, with new emergenc(e)y, among diverse people living the perils, calling for capacities well
beyond ‘skills for work’: at once researchful, pedagogic and proactive. If academics initiate an
ethically-driven politics of re-purposed university education –mobilized in projects to build citi-
zen-capacities with student and community actors, all collaborating on lifeworld problems that
matter –then perhaps together we might push ‘the governors’to rethink social purposes for
Berlant, L. (2016). The commons: Infrastructures for troubling times. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space,
34(3), 393–419. https://doi.org/10.1177/0263775816645989
Brennan, M., & Zipin, L. (2019). Seeking an institution-decentring politics to regain purpose for Australian university
futures. In C. Mathathunga & D. Bottrell (Eds.), Prising open the cracks: Resisting neoliberalism in higher education
(Vol. 2, pp. 271–292). Palgrave Macmillan.
Haraway, D. (2016). Staying with the trouble: Making kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press.
Moll, L. (2014). L.S. Vygotsky and education. Taylor and Francis.
Pignarre, P., & Stengers, I. (2011). Capitalist sorcery: Breaking the spell. Palgrave Macmillan.
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 7
Stengers, I. (2011). The care of the possible: Isabelle Stengers interviewed by Erik Bordeleau. Scapegoat: Landscape,
Architecture, Political Economy, (9), 12–27. https://s3.amazonaws.com/arena-attachments/207085/a912dbca7d21-
Zipin, L. (2019). How Council-Management Governance troubles Australian university labours and futures: Simplistic
assumptions and complex consequences. Social Alternatives,38(3), 28–35.
Zipin, L. (2020). Building curriculum knowledge work around community-based “problems that matter”: Let’s dare
to imagine. Curriculum Perspectives,40(1), 111–115. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41297-019-00096-y
Zipin, L., & Brennan, M. (2019). Universities are investing in teaching at the expense of research. Here’s why we
should fight it. EduResearch Matters. Retrieved May 17, 2020, from https://www. aare.edu.au/blog/?p=3635
Epistemological shifts in higher education post-Covid-19: South Korea’s
critical opportunities and challenges for renewing visions of higher education
Moon Suk Hong and Yoonjung Hwang
Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea; Sahmyook University, Seoul, South Korea
Much-hyped discussion regarding Information Communication Technology (ICT) in Korea’s higher
education is not new. South Korea adopted distance education as early as 1972 with the estab-
lishment of the Korean National Open University, and gradually increased the number of cyber
universities until 2004 as a response to the expanding demands for higher education. By leverag-
ing its competitive advantage in the field of Information Technology, Korea enthusiastically
launched the Korean Massive Open Online Courses (K-MOOC) in 2015 and actively responded to
the discourse of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The ICT discourse in education has been so
widespread that many believe it might potentially lead to ‘a fundamental shift’in the Korean
higher education paradigm –the shift from conventional university education to lifelong learning
enabling learners to access higher education based on online content regardless of time and
place. However, despite the advantages of having ICT friendly infrastructure in all levels of edu-
cation, the intensity, extensity, and velocity of institutional and pedagogical shifts in higher edu-
cation practices have been somewhat disappointing.
Surprisingly, it is not the technological applications in higher education, but the world pan-
demic –COVID 19 –that has pushed higher education institutions and actors to rethink the
existing epistemological assumptions of contemporary higher education and learning in Korea.
The successes and many challenges amid the pandemic have sparked three sets of multi-layered
debates. First, the pandemic provided ironic opportunities to push forward the adaptation of
some of the existing technologies in higher educational practices. Most of the Korean universities
have speedily adopted the Cisco Webex, Zoom, Google Classroom to name a few. The 2020
Spring Semester is a testing-ground for the adaptability and flexibility of the higher education
community in their day-to-day online teaching and learning –from online-based interaction with
students, preparing online class materials, presenting immediate feedback for assignments, new
ways of evaluation of the class, providing timely notice about the class schedule or plans
through Social Network Services and different websites. A few research and development (R&D)
geared and technologically friendly universities and higher institutions have shown that accumu-
lated skills and know-how among researchers can be promptly utilized in these situations.
However, the quick response of faculty and staff in providing online classes is not necessarily
equal to institutional level readiness, capacity, and financial mobilization in all higher education
institutions. This paper will examine such vastly different emerging conditions in terms of quality
of teaching and learning between publicly funded national universities, a few well-funded private
universities, and the majority number of struggling private universities and institutions.
Second, the uneasy question of the values of mass higher education is now more publicly
debated, sparked by the COVID-19 crisis. The three decades-long logic behind the expansion of
private higher education (86% of Korean higher education institutions are currently private) and
constant emphasis on service provider-client relationships between higher education and stu-
dents may undermine the very existence of higher education itself. Whilst students or clients are
8 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
increasingly comparing universities to private sector content-providers, at the same time, they
are questioning the quality of the online classes compared to the comprehensive university edu-
cation they would be receiving under normal conditions. In particular, emerging conditions of
university online learning indicates that many universities are still struggling to provide simultan-
eous online classes, appropriate pedagogical skills and clear guidelines, as well as spatial and
technical assistance to students. In addition, long overdue discussion of issues affecting Korean
higher education such as declining student enrollment, skyrocketing tuition, and the heavy reli-
ance on Chinese international students is being much more publicly aired.
Third, the Korean higher education community has been inadvertently given opportunities to
rethink the epistemological underpinning of Korea’s engagement with the rest of the globe and
to define its national and intellectual positioning in relation to the so-called West. In a broader
society, this is shown in the fact that many Koreans have regained trust in Korea’s democratic
system as a result of the relatively effective risk management by the government, the profes-
sional responses of the public health community and the maturity of civic participation since the
COVID 19 outbreaks in late January 2020. In higher education, in particular, these doubts on the
‘Western system’, raised by the ‘semi-peripheral Korean higher education elite’are particularly
important since the Korean approach to higher education has known to be dependent on US
intellectual hegemony –philosophically, theoretically, technologically. Utilizing technology in
higher education system would gradually blur the boundaries between countries and facilitate
to build Korea’s own higher education model which could be competitive enough to the other
western countries/the U.S. By reducing the necessity to physically cross the border for receiving
quality higher education, students will be more feely choosing the education as a smart con-
sumer and it may give Korean higher education community opportunities to develop more inde-
pendent, but commercially driven education system. The long stubborn epistemological
dependency on the United States is slowly declining in Korean higher education and these
changes of cultural imperatives would create opportunities for the community to reimagine the
fundamentals of relationships within Asia and with the world.
The post-COVID 19 era will require more dramatic change in Korea’s higher education to
ensure not only its survival, but also its transformation. Changes should not only be narrowed
down to setting up technology-friendly teaching and learning environment, but also require
institutional and educational reforms, questioning and challenging the epistemological founda-
tions of who we are, what we teach and learn, and how we engage with the rest of the world.
In this regard, Korea’s technological advancement will be a most important partner in resetting
the new visions of higher education and learning in the next generations.
University life in Cambridge in the two meter society
Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK
Walk around Cambridge these days, and it is as if life in this university city has almost melted
away. Streets once thronged with wandering tourists, biking students and touting puntsters are.
Cafes are closed, colleges are empty, and the traffic-clogged arteries into and out of the center
give way to an eerie quietness. Birds sing, whilst the glorious show of spring’s cherry blossoms,
magnolias, daffodils and irises –display their beauty to this empty theater. This is university life
in Cambridge in the 2 Meter Society.
Two months ago, I was dashing from a ‘teach-in’at Emmanuel College to a two day meet-
ing in the Old Schools, the affectionate term for the building that houses the senior adminis-
tration of the university. I had spent the early part of the day on the picket line outside my
Faculty building in a delicate dance as Head between managing the faculty and honoring
my politics. Now at the Old Schools we wound our way up a narrow staircase to our meeting
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 9
room. Some meeting members had traveled up from London joining the many workers who
daily sprinted to secure a seat on an over-crowded line. We joked about alternative forms of
greetings, foot tapping and elbow knocking to avoid hand to hand contact. Life then still
had not yet heard of social distancing. No chance of social distancing in these quaint
Cambridge turrets and tunnels.
Lockdown came fast. Two days for colleagues to sort out working remotely, and the doors
were locked. Our IT team have been nothing short of brilliant. In this I recognize that we are
some of the lucky ones. Many universities centralized this function and in doing do, cut back
capacity. We’d been building our IT team as we had been exploring digital learning as a way of
pushing climate change higher up our agenda. Next term all lecturing will be on-line, and this
from a standing start.
I have also acquired a new status as ‘critical worker’. I carry a signed letter from the Vice
Chancellor’s Office to show the police in case I am questioned about being on the street. This is
not because I am researching Covid-19 as some of my colleagues are. Rather there are some
things that are critical to doing business that mean I need access to the building. Digital stamps
simply don’t cut it for some of our partners abroad. On the journey to work I pass the odd
worker here and there, always at a respectful two-meter distance.
Each day is busy as we sort out new ways of working. What platform does what with whom.
We’re worked out how to recruit and induct on-line, and how to run classes big and small. This
week the whole faculty will be engaged in strategic planning on-line, and we’ll of course be
working on a learning and working digital strategy. Our undergraduate students are download-
ing their exams on Mondays and uploading them Friday. This is a long way from the handwrit-
ten essays written in the huge auditoriums that dot themselves around Cambridge.
What does the future hold? We know there are no certainties, only contingency planning.
And as head of a Faculty of Education in a collegiate university the challenges are huge. Student
have small classes, and one-one supervisions. We’re determined, however, to use the crisis well.
As Phillip Mirowski once said; never let a good crisis go to waste. What can we do better when
using digital technologies, mindful of also generating benefits like lowering our carbon footprint?
What do we still need to do in-person, but in ways that are respectful of our right to social dis-
tance? And how can we hold on to the social, so that it finds expression not in the idea of dis-
tancing, but in creative ways of being together?
Education and the certainty of uncertainty
Melbourne University, Melbourne, Australia
Catastrophic events involve sudden significant disruption. The COVID-19 pandemic has required
vast numbers of people to change their lives, with the likely possibility of ongoing uncertainty.
Uncertainty is not something we humans generally seek out. Indeed Dewey (1929) observed
‘the quest for certitude’as having ‘determined our basic metaphysics’(p. 22). Yet such a ‘quest
for complete certainty’comes with a caveat: it can only be fulfilled ‘in pure knowing’(p. 8); com-
plete certainty ‘cannot be found by practical doing or making’(p. 21).
Dewey highlighted how this basic metaphysical distinction between knowing and doing, char-
acterizes a longstanding view of education: education, at its roots, works with knowing.
Education thrives on certainty, which is recorded via facts, catalogued in curriculum.
Yet it is not curriculum which the pandemic has thrown into confusion. Those facts remain
secure in their isolation. Instead it is the practices of education, those of schools and universities
especially, which have suddenly and significantly been disrupted.
10 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
However Dewey’s questioning of the distinction between knowing and doing upsets this way
of comprehending the situation. He argued cogently that ‘knowing is itself a mode of practical
action’(1929, p. 107): knowing and doing cannot be separated. So those certainties catalogued
as curriculum may not, in practice, be secure: for they are impacted by the ways of doing
through which they are encountered.
The pedagogical changes wrought via the pandemic have positioned facts differently; their
certainty is clothed in various forms of practice which alter their meaning: how they are known.
And these forms of practice can themselves be positioned through the dissolution of another
distinction: between doing and being.
This broad simpatico –being-doing-knowing –is observable in the educational changes
driven by the pandemic, where engaging in school or university from home has become a
prevalent practice. Pedagogies change significantly in such circumstances, altering ways of know-
ing. Digital pedagogies come to the fore. But engagement with these ways of doing when at
home requires a more vital transition between ways of being: perhaps from being a family mem-
ber to being an online student. Yet for many, especially children, this presents a pronounced
engagement challenge, an ontological challenge.
Ways of being are ways of doing are ways of knowing (Quay, 2013). This understanding flips
the quest for certainty on its head. No longer is pure knowing at the heart of educational
endeavor. Instead, ways of being are primary; knowing serves being.
This understanding points the way to a different quest; a quest marked by questioning
instead of answering. Ways of being are always temporal and temporary responses to what
Heidegger (2009) called the who-question: ‘Who are we ourselves?’(p. 33). Heidegger
perceived that asking questions about human being always envelops the human questioner
in the questioning.
If this human question is positioned at the heart of education, it highlights being as the
driving force. There are many possible responses to the who-question, a never ending variety
of ways to be a human being; and education can offer these ways in the democratic fashion
that Dewey inspired (Quay, 2016).
Could this pandemic be disruptive enough to shift modern education’s embrace of the quest
for certainty? It is unlikely. Even in a pandemic the quest for certainty, expressed as a wish to
return to normalcy, dominates. There may be acceptance of new practices that shift ways of
being; but being itself is not revealed as the main educational concern.
Founding this inertia is another version of the quest for certainty, focused on answering (not
questioning) the who-question. While certainty in curriculum is expressed via knowing, certainty
in existential terms is expressed via being. Who are we ourselves? Is an uncomfortable question
many want to answer finally, with security.
Yet the who-question must always be a living question. To support this, education must be
premised on exploring ways of being, appropriately. This reflects the ever-changing landscape
of ways of being –a strength of humanity –that makes it impossible to finally answer the
who-question. A pandemic might raise this awareness for some, but for most the uncertainty
strengthens the quest for definitive answers.
Dewey, J. (1929). The quest for certainty: A study of the relation of knowledge and action. Minton, Balch & Company.
Heidegger, M. (2009). Logic as the question concerning the essence of language (W. T. Gregory & Y. Unna, Trans.).
State University of New York Press.
Quay, J. (2013). Education, experience, existence: Engaging Dewey, Peirce and Heidegger. Routledge.
Quay, J. (2016). Not ‘democratic education’but ‘democracy and education’: Reconsidering Dewey’s oft
misunderstood introduction to the philosophy of education. Educational Philosophy and Theory,48(10),
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 11
The intimacy of distance
Monash University, Clayton, Australia
As the reader arrives at the closing chapters of Jane Austin’sPersuasion, she is aware that Anne
had broken off her betrothal to Wentworth some years before. Anne enters a room in a hotel
where she sees Wentworth in conversation with his friend Harville. Wentworth then goes to a
table and becomes engrossed in writing. After a time, he approaches her and hands her the let-
ter he had just written. In it he says:
I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my
soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for
ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight
years and a half ago …
Writing on parchment or paper is a technology that has been used for centuries to overcome
the barriers of time and distance. Through this medium we can hear Plato, Shakespeare or the
Marquis de Sade. With this technology letters, directives and orders could be communicated
over vast distances.
What is interesting about Wentworth’s letter is he was hindered by neither time nor distance
in communicating with Anne that evening. Rather, writing the letter afforded him a way of com-
municating his deepest and most vulnerable feelings in ways that speaking face to face did not.
This reminds us that in our human interactions the shared physical space (SPS) is not necessarily
a privileged or superior space.
This most recent pandemic is compelling ‘social distancing’and, more often, physical isola-
tion. Teachers are compelled to use online technologies because the SPS is barred. The pan-
demic is putting up barriers –walls, so to speak. This in many instances is compelling the
involuntary use of communications technologies. For many students and teachers, the all-encom-
passing use of online technologies is seen as a necessary, but second-best and inferior means
for learning and teaching. That framing can distract, however, from realizing the technologies’
superior possibilities. The pandemic offers an opportunity to creatively and imaginatively explore
better ways of passing on knowledge, experience and wisdom than simply deploying the SPS.
We should be looking for ways the technologies offer a superior, rather than a substitute, way of
interacting, relative to the SPS.
I’ll mention one way, in my experience, an interactive online class can be superior to SPS. I
taught a subject for a decade, which in part involved breaking the class into small groups to
work on a problem. I moved from group to group offering guidance and direction in solving the
class problem. I then shifted the subject online and used zoom breakout groups in which I again
moved from group to group. As a result, I can compare the pre- and post-online learning and
teaching experiences. Admittedly, my assessment is subjective. I found the quality of the stu-
dents’output was more or less the same. However, I noticed the online sessions substantially
lessened the invisible (intimidatory) barrier that existed in the SPS between my students and me.
I found online students are more likely to engage with the teacher on a more even footing.
Online, I am more likely to be seen as a participant in the shared task of resolving the class
problem than a dominating presence, which in the SPS led to a level of deference and passivity
on the part of the students. Although I did not notice a great difference in the assessment out-
put of students in the two environments, my intuition is the proportion of students who actively
engaged with the class problems was greater online, and the depth of their explorations was
better. These things are difficult, if not impossible, to ‘objectively’measure.
Some teachers may be put off by the mandates of teaching technology ‘experts’who with
breathtaking knowledgeable ignorance insist the science establishes that online videos cannot
exceed 7 minutes (apparently comprehension shrinks online), or there must be an endless array
12 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
of online quizzes and other blandishments. Ignore them all; don’t let them encumber your own
explorations and experiences.
The new technologies offer an array of possibilities, many of which are yet to be explored.
One advantage they offer is the intimacy of distance.
Schizophrenize education through remote teaching: An experimenting reflection
for a revolutionary libidinal investment of the post-pandemic capitalist
Naples University, Naples, Italy
COVID-19, a strange assemblage among an aggressive virus, global lockdown policies and a viral
informational (Peters et al., 2020) flux of fearful affects, is producing its effects on the Capitalist social
machine all over the world. Educational dispositifs are perhaps the most effected: the sudden closure
of schools’and universities’physical spaces and the forced digitalization of lessons and academic
courses has conducted to a situation of metastable equilibrium (Simondon, 1958): an event from
which an unlimited number of directions is viable and that could function as a window of chances.
Some scholars and politicians claim the potentials of completely virtualizing learning, opening toward
reactionary proposals for individualized and privatized/platformized home-schooling; while others
underline the incomparableness between digitally mediated schooling and the ‘true’educational
practice in physical co-presence granted by public institutions.
Trying to slip out from this pendulum, which dialectically defines a progressist position by the
negation of a reactionary one, we mobilize the schizoanalytic (Deleuze & Guattari, 1978)approachto
identify a possible line of flight and deterritorialization that could depart from the COVID-19 singular-
ity and trouble the Capitalist machine. In this way, we can escape from the unending ideal move-
ment among digital, physical or blended learning, and focus on the productive assemblage of actual
pandemic digital education: its politics and the possibility for its libidinal functioning.
Remote teaching is the core solution arranged all over the world to face the pandemic. From our
perspective, remote teaching involves a very different way of flowing of the desiring-production.
While traditional teaching implies children taken out from their families and placed in institutional
buildings where teachers are expected to teach them in order to make families bring in more edu-
cated/disciplined children; remote teaching requires families to bring in, through digital technical
machines, teachers and learning for their children. ‘A breath of fresh air, a relationship with the out-
side world’(Ivi, p. 9). Family is produced by Capitalism as a microcosm: it has been detached from
the social production –of which it was instead invested in the Primitive and Barbarian machines –
and has become the surface of application for the oedipalization of the desiring-production. It produ-
ces docile and resigned subjects: ‘“Mister Capital, Madame Earth”and their child the Worker’(Ivi, p.
264). But could it be a ‘breakthrough’of the limit, ‘the schiz, which [maintain] the production of
desire always at the margins of social production’(Ivi, p. 131)?
Let’s schizophrenize education through remote teaching. This could be an unprecedent
chance. The digital language, with which remote teaching actualizes, is by itself a decoding of
the signifying language and produces ‘dividuals’rather than individuals (Deleuze, 1992): ‘the task
of schizoanalysis is that of tirelessly taking apart egos and their presuppositions; liberating the
prepersonal singularities they enclose and repress’(Deleuze & Guattari, 1978, p. 362). But this is
not enough: pandemic remote teaching actual functioning is still paranoiac. The implication of
digital language is only a revolutionary possibility for the partial and nonspecific use of the con-
nective synthesis of production, instead of its oedipal global and specific use.
We need to promote its functioning together with an inclusive and nonrestrictive use of the dis-
junctive synthesis of recording and with a nomadic and polyvocal conjunctive synthesis of consump-
tion. Also with regard to the former, remote teaching is an unprecedent chance: it could permit to
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 13
shift from the ‘either/or’alternative –‘there’s mommy, [there’s teacher, and] there you are’(Ivi, p.
125) –to the intensive designation of the states through which a subject passes on the body without
organs: ‘I’meitherateacheroramommyorachild’; and this for all the ‘global persons’involved in
the remote teaching assemblage. Then, regarding the latter, the relationship of the family with the
outside could be maximized recognizing, through the educational molecular practice, all the extrafa-
miliar breaks ‘by means of which the libido is engulfed in order to sexually invest the nonfamilial,
[…] the other class as determined under the empirical rubrics of the “richest and the poorest”’ (Ivi,
p. 354). Education could promote the family as stimulus ‘having an indifferent value’(Ivi, p. 355)
where the parents could be reinjected in the social production.
Could this be revolutionary? We don’t know. What we just know is that it would be an experi-
mentation: not ‘an act to be later judged in terms of success and failure, but simply [ …] an act
the outcome of which is unknown’(Cage, 1961, p. 13).
Cage, J. (1961). Silence. Wesleyan University Press.
Deleuze, G. (1992). Postscript on the societies of control. October, 59,3–7.
Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1978). 7 contemporary sociology anti-oedipus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. University of
Peters, M. A., McLaren, P., & Jandri
c, P. (2020). A viral theory of post-truth. Educational Philosophy and Theory,1–9.
Simondon, G. (1958). Du mode d’existence des objects techniques. Aubier.
The risk of digital reason: Fearing interactive technologies in higher education
London University, London, UK
The COVID-19 pandemic is heightening practices that have already begun to emerge worldwide
in higher education, in the use of digital technologies. The changes afoot, however, may produce
an understandable fear. They certainly carry with them new kinds of risk.
I start with two illustrations of the possibilities inherent in the new higher education order. I am
especially struck with the happenings that Michael Sandel, a prominent USA political philosopher, has
been orchestrating under the title of ‘The Global Philosopher’. Sandel stands in a studio surrounded
by banks of monitors, perhaps upwards of fifty, with each one showing the face of a student any-
where in the world. He poses an awkward issue to the students, of the moment, and where philo-
sophical arguments can be brought to bear; and not only invites views from the students but invites,
say, Mary, to respond to what James has just said. Sandel takes the discussion forward, moving deftly
from one sub-topic to another. He then spends a few minutes at the end, drawing the threads
together and placing the different views in the context of the relevant philosophical debate.
In this one pedagogical instance, we have disciplined critical debate, students being brought
together in a digital space and from cultures and societies right across the world. It may be
responded that this would be impracticable for most university pedagogical settings. But a
slimmed-down version is readily available. A course, say in civil engineering, could be put into
contact with a corresponding course in a quite different country, the students being asked to
work together not only on engineering problems but on wider issues, for instance exploring the
role of the engineer in society. This could bring epistemologies and cultures of the West into a
lively dialogue with those of non-Western nations.
My other example: I have just participated in a global academic webinar, which took the form of
a mini-conference. It had a chair who orchestrated proceedings, two plenary speakers, break-out tasks
with the participants being divided into groups, a plenary session, and a discussant (myself) who
brought the threads of the event together and offered some concluding thoughts. The participants
14 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
participants were able to make a contribution to the event in some way. A feature of the event’ssuc-
cess, as it seemed to me, lay in the democratizing effect that resulted from the digital presentation
of the event. Under each participant’s face appeared just her or his name. There were no cues as to
title or position and there seemed to be a generally relaxed tone to proceedings.
These two examples suggest that digital modes of communication have much to offer both
pedagogy and scholarship. They call for new skills, not least of speaking directly to a camera,
knowing that there are multiple viewers situated in quite different places. And they call for
exemplary skills of moderation and attentiveness, and also for a humor and graciousness, since
visual clues of posture and body language are weaker. They call, too, for a willingness –digitally
speaking –to embrace the other, to have an empathy across cultures, and to listen with rare
attentiveness. And they call, too, for pedagogical spaces that are open and dialogical, and that
offer new forms of enculturation. Bildung can be reborn!
Digital pedagogies, then, can help to realize higher education as an entry into new spaces
and cultures of reasoning and understanding. They call, though, not just for a rare imagination
on the part of the teacher but a preparedness to recede into the background and to tolerate a
heightened level of pedagogical risk. It would not be surprising, therefore, if the possible bene-
fits of the interactive technologies are going to be seized only rarely. They may even produce an
understandable fear: status, self-perception, control and authority are all at risk.
Distance learning and the real philosophy class
Shanxi University, Taiyuan, PR China
For myself, teaching philosophy during the COVID-19 epidemic is an experiment in distance
learning in the digital era. ‘Distance-learning’strictly refers to the distance between teachers
and students in cyberspace. Much like in-class learning, distance-learning courses require
strict teaching plans, rather than lectures and reports in the general sense, in order to make
the teaching of philosophy worthy of its name. It should also be noted that these distance
learning courses are supervised and inspected by the authorities of the school in charge
of teaching management.
As an expedient measure during this emergency period, the online teaching of philosophy, if
performed according to standard, is largely sufficient for fulfilling the teaching duties and
responsibilities required in both undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Nonetheless, I
remain persuaded that distance-learning ought not to take the place of on-campus and in-class
philosophy courses, regardless of present or future circumstances, although we do not deny that
digital resources (including lecture videos of colleagues at home and abroad, videos of philoso-
phy conferences, and e-books, to name only a few) offer auxiliary means for supplementing the
in-class teaching of philosophy.
Fundamentally speaking, teaching philosophy (especially the branch of metaphysics) is an aca-
demic exercise in the practice of thoughtful dialogue in virtual space. Students, teachers, and
even for amateur laypersons, doing philosophy means to engage in dialogues in virtual space
with the great philosophers who are no longer in the world, because this is one primary way in
which ideas are circulated and exchanged. Today, we still engage with Confucius, Laozi,
Zhuangzi, Aristotle, Plato, Descartes, Berkeley, Nietzsche and Foucault in precisely this way, in
the sense of thinking. In other words, authentic philosophical engagement and philosophical
contemplation are ideological activities that are performed in the virtual space of the mind, rep-
resenting a real-time thought experiment in operation.
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 15
However, no matter the degree of actuality, rapidity, and intelligence currently attained by
contemporary digital technology, it still cannot enact, in terms of materialization or visualization,
the philosophical thinking that has been on-going in virtual space since the birth of philosophy
thousands of years ago. The online teaching of philosophy in the digital age is not conducive for
allowing teachers and students to engage and contemplate complex and significant philosoph-
ical issues in the virtual space of the mind. The thoughtful teaching of philosophy depends on
reflective dialogue and interactive discussion in the context of real time and space. In addition,
distance learning in the digital age does not allow for the dialogical mode of teaching philoso-
phy, which, for the narratives and presentations of philosophy, demands face to face discussion,
questioning, and critique, which themselves become meaningful through living speech by way
of tone, gesture, and expression. In sum, cyberspace communication without personal meeting
cannot provide a reliable place for the teaching of philosophy. Online philosophy courses as
they are often done today have become a stage for the monologues of philosophy teachers
mostly talking to themselves. They are distanced from their students who are severely hampered
in their desire to receive timely, effective, and real-time feedback from their teachers as well as
their cohorts, let alone in-depth discussion.
Therefore, the teaching of philosophy in the university should be returned to the campus
classroom at the earliest possible opportunity.
Reimagining the new pedagogical possibilities for universities post-Covid-19
University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus
Of times and shadows
In critical, pandemic (pan ¼all þdemos ¼people) times, medical and spatial metaphors remain
resilient: not only bodies, but also spaces and their corresponding body-politic are pronounced
For, collectivities are also spatiotemporal ‘bodies’. We employ such metaphors especially
when, in facing bodily challenges, we try to re-imagine and transform the universality that we
have created. The motto of the CfPapers metaphorizes the pandemic as a ‘portal, a gateway
between one world and the next’,
namely, the earthly utopia that the pandemic may enable by
mobilizing imagination. By disrupting time the pandemic becomes an ‘opportunity’
ment to another, better place. Modern utopian metaphoricity involves the journey, the passage
to another space or time, and the question is how we cross the border, what we carry along:
ideally, ‘we can walk through lightly, with little luggage’,
shedding our old and new plagues as
we go. But, I think, if our being spatiotemporal is no biased self-/human-description, another
question about our luggage is: what light would dispel our shadow? And should it? For, bodies
moving in relative light/darkness have shadows that move along, even when diverse technolo-
gies of the self paradoxically render them invisible.
also involves journeys and visitations. Universities, in Greek pan-
epistimia (literally: all sciences), and pandemics share the prefix ‘pan-’(all). The universality of a
pandemic and of science echoes the ‘global interconnectivity’that is to be re-imagined and
hopefully turned into a new reality, if its aspirational thought becomes pandemic. For, we, aca-
demics/the academic body, share with viruses the global spread (another spatial metaphor); their
biology of contagiousness is, for us, the politics of the sublimated desire for the viral, for leaving
our mark in the body-politic, for installing our thought in others and for controlling the direction
of thought, even the thought about the virus.
The speedy recovery of our time-honored ped-
agogies from experiencing suspended time (now a risk, instead of opportunity) enabled
16 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
academic thought to continue visiting students by turning ‘viral’. The virus reminds the demos
of its body, its being inexorably biological, but also of its body-politic and its socio-political ills,
precisely through the paradox of having to resort to the ‘viral’, to forget about the body for the
sake of maintaining the body’s health.
Re-imagining reflects ‘our capacity for making informed predictions’and ‘an ethics of possibil-
Pre-dictions of the visitable avenir, this temporality of speaking in advance, this pre- of
sometimes rushed to become viral,
may meet prejudice, another pre-, that of
The risk of dragging ‘the carcasses of our prejudice’
them citizenship in the new, the renewed and the re-imagined, is like the shadow of one’s body,
of an embodied existence that wants the viral, the contaminating, universalizing force, the con-
tinuity and speed of mobile thought. For, pre-judice, judging in advance, before krinein, before
crisis, unmasks one’s being prepared for the advent of a crisis to interpret its cast shadow in the
way that the ‘pre-’determines.
Expectations for ‘new digital, online, and pedagogical possibilities’and ‘new cultural and
social formations’may reflect a biased, modern valorization of the ‘new’. The view that the view
that ‘online teaching would never match the real thing’
is biased is itself biased, biased against
embodied existence. What is the ‘real thing’? The ‘real thing’about bodies is, I think, their occa-
sional awareness of their shadow, contra all blithe and hubristic modernisms of unlimited possi-
bility, of renewals which exacerbated the plagues and ills that we desperately need to shed
behind. One border that separates the self-understandings of the analogue and the digital (the
most modernist of all modernisms in its aspiration to the borderless and limitless) is that bodies
regain a sense of limit, especially in times of pandemics.
In the space of digital pedagogy that educational technology makes ever tidier, more neat
and expansive, what escapes the eye is the body’s shadow as a non-nostalgic, deliberate and lib-
erating obsolescence. The modernist bias beneath linear succession, crossed spatialities and sur-
passed stages (where the place allocated to the new ostensibly presupposes evacuation)
paradoxically promises continuities and transference of the internal borders of our body-politic
to the new, re-imagined world. One way to mitigate it may be to re-view the proximity and dis-
tance of so-called ‘traditional’and new, digital pedagogies in their struggle for political and
pedagogical space, for points of entry, in the post-covid-19 utopia.
It is the ‘real thing’? The ‘real thing’about bodies is, I think, their occasional awareness of
their shadow, contra all blithe and hubristic modernisms of unlimited possibility, of renewals
which exacerbated the plagues and ills that we desperately need to shed behind. One border
that separates the self-understandings of the analogue and the digital (the most modernist of all
modernisms in its aspiration to the borderless and limitless) is that bodies regain a sense of limit,
especially in times of pandemics. In the space of digital pedagogy that educational technology
makes ever tidier, more neat and expansive, what escapes the eye is the body’s shadow as a
non-nostalgic, deliberate and liberating obsolescence. The modernist bias beneath linear succes-
sion, crossed spatialities and surpassed stages (where the place allocated to the new ostensibly
presupposes evacuation) paradoxically promises continuities and transference of the internal bor-
ders of our body-politic to the new, re-imagined world. One way to mitigate it may be to re-
view the proximity and distance of so-called ‘traditional’and new, digital pedagogies in their
struggle for political and pedagogical space, for points of entry, in the post-covid-19 utopia.
8. For more elaboration on such connections, see Papastephanou, M. (2019). Political education in times of
political apathy and extreme political pathos as global ways of life. Educational Studies in Japan,13,81–95.
9. Roy, A. Pandemic is a portal. The Financial Times.https://www.ft.com/content/10d8f5e8-74eb-11ea-95fe-
fcd274e920ca quoted in the Call for Papers to which this commentary of mine responds.
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 17
10. In the Call for Papers: ‘The COVID-19 pandemic offers us the opportunity to rethink not only new digital,
online, and pedagogical possibilities but also the basic purposes of education’.
11. Roy, A. Pandemic is a portal.
12. Although a pandemic cancels journeys and visitations, the very term evokes them. Pandemic originates
from the Greek pandemia, from pan 1demos (in Greek ‘all people’) and denotes an epidemic (coming
to [epi] a people [demos], a visitation) that crosses all borders, travels everywhere, shrinking space
13. Self-reflectively, this could also, and arguably, be the shadow of this brief commentary too, despite its style
going against any possibility of viral influence and despite its effort and intention to unmask the ‘we’as
‘masked philosophers’being inclusive, universal and aware of the shadow enough to stave off any charge of
self-exemption. Still, it is a shadow that causes me unease as to the Sartrean counter-finalities of
commentaries on the epi-kaira (kairos ¼lived time), as topical, public, academic interventions in what, say, an
epi-demic has, timely and, ironically, made more visible behind the protective masks than ever. I develop this
14. Call for Papers.
15. Etymologically, from the Latin prae (in advance, before) þdicere (to say). https://www.etymonline.com/
16. See, for instance, Giorgio Agamben’shttps://www.quodlibet.it/giorgio-agamben-l-invenzione-di-un-epidemia
[I am indebted to Prof Ronald Sultana for drawing my attention to it]. I consider Agamben’s initial
reaction to corona virus measures rushed, and his applying to them his notion of the state of
exception infelicitous. Agamben’s intervention, in my view, utterly modern in its tailoring reality to a
(meta-)narrative masked as post-, operates as a subtext concerning some critical points that I raise in
17. Prejudice comes from the Latin prae (in advance, before) and judicium (judgment).
18. Roy, A. Pandemic is a portal.
19. The Call for Papers reads: ‘The clear bias against online teaching that would never match the real thing, is
destined to become a thing of the past’[The CfP refers this idea to this source: https://www.
timeshighereducation.com/features/will-coronavirus-make-online-education-go-viral]. I have added the
emphasis on the ‘real thing’in my main text.
Making education great again through dehumanization
Chapman University, Orange, CA, USA
Once during an undergraduate class in Middle English, held in a musty old room in Victoria
College, an 1836 masterpiece of Neo-Gothic architecture complete with turrets, gargoyles, and
battlements, my Chaucer professor began weeping as she read excerpts from the Canterbury
Tales. Tears dropped from her cheeks onto my shoulder. I could not have felt more sublime had
my father confessor sprayed me with holy water. As she walked past my desk (perhaps a seat
that was warmed by Margaret Atwood’s genius a decade earlier) I could smell the perfumed
odor of her academic gown. At the end of class she clasped my arm gently and told me that
she would bring a bottle of vitamins to the next class as I looked pale and undernourished. I
had spent the night sleeping in a graveyard, physically spent from an LSD experiment that kept
me running from gravesite to gravesite, hiding as best I could from massive stone angels that
had suddenly sprung to life.
Massey College was another refuge, a gorgeous building that combined Dutch de Stijl mod-
ernism and touches of Frank Lloyd Wright with an infusion of Gothic grammar. Nothing could
compare to the dining room, Ondaatje Hall, where all Junior Fellows like myself were required to
wear gowns and say prayers in Latin, and sit at tables where only French or German were spo-
ken, depending upon the day. The high table dinners were exquisite and the sherry and cigars
afterwards were more so. Later I was to abandon the prurient class elitism of it all, bathed as it
was in the succulent side of capitalism, but unlike the Red Guards of the same generation far
away in China, I did retain a tactile appreciation for the artistic achievements of Western
18 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
It was an experience to hear lectures in Convocation Hall, built in 1907 in Edwardian Baroque
revival style, with a domed rotunda, or attend social events at Hart House, established in 1919
(where my mother, a clothing model, and housewife, and later a telephone switchboard oper-
ator, used to perform small roles in plays prior to WWII). My 1965 fountain pen served more as a
calligraphy brush in my hands. I loved making sketches of professors, classmates, and friends in
the margins of my notebooks. My daily planner was bound in leather which I would dutifully
polish with Neatfoots oil, made from cattle shin and foot bones. Later, I began to appreciate as
much the classrooms in the dusty barrios of Venezuela, held in structures made of tin and con-
structed over mushy dirty roads, where teenagers and old men sat together in rickety old desks
scratched to oblivion by idle pen knives, and scribbled the alphabet into their notebooks with
tooth-sharpened pencils. The books displayed on the teacher’s desk were treasures to behold.
Today I enter homes in California with no books, only memories of books. But there are
secondhand computers, sometimes more than one. Only the wealthy vipers own brand new,
up-to-date computers, those slick metal monstrosities that are destroying the environment. Yes,
I’m using one now! Well over a billion people worldwide owns a PC. Imagine the strain that puts
on the electrical grid, and on power plants throughout the world –not to mention the pollution
and greenhouse gas emissions that result from mass-producing them.
The average PC requires more power than a refrigerator. Computers add to the strain on
power plants to produce enough energy to supply the world. The production of energy creates
pollution and emissions. The amount of electricity needed to keep our computers running
contributes to the millions of tons of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere
each year. And did you know that ‘computers still require 10 times their weight in chemicals
and pollutants during manufacturing’(https://sciencing.com/how-do-computers-pollute-the-
But the advantages of computers outweigh the dangers, correct? Yes, but tell that to the
spindle-shanked youth in Africa, China, India, Vietnam and the Philippines, who spend their days
picking through the landfill waste depots for useful scraps and who come into life-threatening
contact with heavy metals. Or tell that to their family members whose drinking water is contami-
nating by runoff from the landfills. But hats off to Alphabet, Microsoft, IBM and Adobe engineers!
They make our world function. And we owe a debt of gratitude to massive open online courses
(MOOCs), such as Khan Academy, Coursera, Udacity and edX –because they are going to save
education in the era of the coronavirus. Who needs a four-year residential experience anyway?
Students don’t really talk to each other anymore, do they? Look at the cafeterias today and
you will see people eating around the same table, all of them glued to their cellphones. And
going on a date today means going out with someone of your choice, and their cellphone! And
we can always communicate with each other across the restaurant table with our cellphones –
using emojis! And in college we can get by on much less F2F engagements, right? Think about
all the resources that can be freed up! Students can take courses at their leisure in grubby, roach
infested rooms that they share with a handful of other students trying to survive an economy
gone bust as a result of the coronavirus (actually, as a result of capitalism). That macaroni and
cheese and spam sure tastes good! Open up those sardine cans! Better than living in dorm
rooms and eating at the student cafeteria. Well, it is certainly cheaper. Professors unfamiliar or
hostile to online courses can benefit from anonymized discussions with their students about
what’s going wrong in their classes. This could really help the professors, or drive them crazy.
I am all for developing a human rights commission on the digital divide, on digital inequal-
ities, if that means the poor getting improved bandwidths and more stable wifi connections, and
better audio-visual applications. Computers are a part of our lives now. Ask a professor and you
will learn just how difficult it is to ask students to put away their cell phones and computers
during a class. Not so easy in this era of multi-tasking and Internet addiction. So should we
future-proof education by embracing online classes as the future of higher education? Not if that
means throwing out our dusty copies of Dostoyevsky and watching lectures by Steve Jobs.
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 19
Online teaching the gendered realities of higher education
Rima D. Apple
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA
With increasing numbers of universities employing online learning in a COVID-19 world, we must
consider how such a universe will alter our notions of educational practice. A future of online
instruction raises a host of possibilities for establishing more democratic educational fora. It also
presents the possibility of inadvertently or consciously recapitulating the inequities of the current
system. Such a future is not simply a matter of transposing face-to-face instruction onto the
screen. We must consider other salient elements. For example, the composition of the instruc-
A striking characteristic of the contemporary university structure is the gender stratification of
the instructional staff. In institution after institution, in country after country, fewer and fewer
women appear in the higher echelons of academia. If we are entering a new environment of on-
screen university education, we must ask who will the teachers be? Will we continue to relegate
women to the teaching of introductory courses with large enrollments and little teacher-student
interaction, with little opportunity for the sociality so important for building a democratic model?
To be the assistants in tutorials rather than course developers who provide role models for all
students? Will we leave the more ‘prestigious’courses to the highly ranked professorate
dominated by men? Will prepackaged curriculum become the standard, following the norm
of teaching by a gendered proletariatized group of teachers and further reducing the creative
role of women in research and educational developments?
Historically, gender has been a critical element in higher education. Take, for example, medical
education. For centuries, medical schools refused to accept women as students. Schools for
women to study medicine were founded in the 19th century. But, as male medical schools slowly
began to accept female applicants in the 20th century, most of these women’s medical colleges
closed. As a result, the number of women graduating medical school remained extremely low until
the last half of the twentieth century. An even more striking example of the gendered nature of
medical education is Alice Hamilton. Her exemplary career in public health and industrial medicine
led to her appointment as an assistant professor in the new Department of Industrial Medicine in
1919 at Harvard Medical School. Despite her international reputation in occupational health and
her acclaimed pioneer work in industrial toxicology, she remained an assistant professor until her
retirement in 1935. Food science presents a similar narrative. In the 19th century and through at
least the first half of the 20th century, women interested in studying nutrition were directed into
schools of home economics, single-sex units with significantly less prestige and resources than
university departments of chemistry and biochemistry. Some managed to gain doctorates in their
chosen field but found few professorial positions there. Most often they were directed back into
home economics, a field with less status and fewer opportunities.
Re-envisioning of the university educational system presents us with the chance to rethink
and reorganize its many and varied parts. One of the most significant is the possibility of foster-
ing and promoting a diverse instructional staff that is representative of a democratic society. But,
this will not happen automatically. We need to take account of this institutional history in order
to be fully aware of how the gendered structures in higher education may have substantive
effects on the ways in which new digitalized media will in fact be used.
Rima D. Apple is Hui Yan Chair Distinguished Professor, Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal
University, China, and Vilas Life Cycle Professor Emerita, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.
20 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
Lessons from the coronavirus: What we are learning about online learning
Nicholas C. Burbules
University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), Champaign, IL, USA
At my university, we are careful to distinguish ‘online education’from ‘remote teaching’. The
emergency adaptation to providing some kind of access to courses for students who cannot
come to campus because of the coronavirus outbreak, mostly offered by faculty who have never
taught online (and in some cases had no desire to) is not the same as a thoughtful, intentional
redesign of courses to alternative modalities.
And a temporary, hopefully one-time accommodation to an extraordinary situation is not the
same as a permanent restructuring of the curriculum –or as Clayton Christensen calls it, a
‘disruptive innovation’. In cases like this, we get the disruption but not always the innovation.
These distinctions are important if we are to appreciate the longer-term implications of this
current crisis. I see the following trends:
1. The legitimacy of alternative pedagogical modalities is being changed for people who previ-
ously viewed them with suspicion, as they now gain some experience with them. While not
exposed to an online modality in its fullest sense, perhaps, they are seeing that online or
blended is not the same as in-class instruction, and is not simply porting over in-class
instruction to a different ‘delivery system’. Seeing that online or blended instruction is not
the same as emergency remote instruction may help develop a deeper appreciation for the
complexities of true online course design. Online has its own distinct affordances, its own
advantages and disadvantages, just as the conventional classroom does –and part of this
insight is learning to weigh the advantages and disadvantages on both sides, not comparing
in-class instruction as the ideal model with online as a pale imitation of the ‘real’thing.
2. While online is normally presented as a way of expanding access to learning opportunities,
both in terms of avoiding the costs of mobility or relocation, and allowing people to pursue
full-time employment while also pursuing degrees, the current experiment in non-voluntary
transposition into virtual classes is highlighting other dimensions of unequal access: regions
with poor or non-existent wifi; learners with lower quality equipment, or none; and differen-
tial levels of comfort and experience with applications like Moodle or Zoom. If we are not
careful, what we gain in expanding access to learning opportunities for some will be coun-
terbalanced by a loss of opportunities for others. Not every reform is a ‘win/win’.
3. As noted, a process of thoughtful, intentional online redesign involves more than adopting
an alternative delivery system. It changes content as well as form; it entails rethinking and
sometimes abandoning familiar elements of classroom instruction with which we might be
comfortable; it involves new perspectives on, for example, what ‘communication’means in
the classroom and what it is for. Done well, it takes time, technical support, and additional
development costs (e.g. high-quality video). The quick and non-voluntary experiment in
emergency remote teaching we are going through now is, I think, alerting people to the
ways in which online redesign –done well –requires additional time and resources.
There will come a time when the coronavirus will be a memory, like SARS or H1N1. But these
lessons, if we are open to them and reflect upon them, provide a chance to reexamine our
assumptions about online and blended modalities –and how to implement them more intelli-
gently. The quality and fairness of these sorts of innovations depend upon asking better ques-
tions about why (and for whom) we are adopting them.
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 21
University education in the post-Covid world
Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi, India
Covid-19 forced many universities across the world to shift from being fully f2f (face-to-face)
class to fully online classes. For going online, a variety of tools like Zoom or Adobe connect
were used to deliver lectures which students can attend from anywhere. In India, this did not
happen widely as even the top institutes like IITs found that many of their students do not have
access to laptops or good internet in their homes, and as movement was disallowed in lock-
down, access to an internet caf
e was also not an option.
It is, however, clear that (undergraduate) students do not like the online education as com-
pared to f2f, campus-based education. There had been some evidence of this even earlier, but
this forced online lecturing has resulted in many students complaining ‘why they had to pay so
much if education had to be online’. Indeed a class action suit has been launched in the US
against many universities, asking for refunds. In India also the general feedback is that students
do not perceive online education highly.
Hence, the question going forward for universities is not just how to make online teaching
more effective for learning (the question that was most asked when online was launched), but
also about the perception of online learning in terms of value.
Students benefit from a university education in two main dimensions –self growth and pro-
fessional development. For the first, the on-campus experience is the key –in fact a good deal
of the self-growth happens outside of the formal curriculum through the social and other
engagements in an on-campus model. Any good university provides a rich campus environment
for such a growth. Professional development is the focus of the formal curriculum. Here, online
mode is useful for some types of learning. But even for professional development, online mode
is of limited value in developing graduate attributes like team work, communication ability, con-
sensus building, etc. So we can say that f2f, campus-based education has a role in the overall
education of the student which cannot be replaced by online teaching, though online models
can indeed be useful for some aspects of the learning a university provides.
Given the experience during covid lockdowns, Post-covid, universities will want to be pre-
pared for online delivery of courses. However, given the limitations of online approaches, univer-
sities are likely to opt for blended approach for education, keeping in mind the learning goals as
well as value perceptions. The blending will happen in a few ways:
Students will still be enrolled in a brick and mortal university, but some of the courses they
take in a semester may be offered online, while the others will remain f2f.
Even with online courses, a blended model is likely to be used –some MOOC style asyn-
chronous lecturing, complemented with some weekly synchronous interaction (f2f or online)
–this maybe discussion like in a flipped classroom, or may be summarizing the lectures for
the week, etc. Some aspects of assessment will also be f2f, like projects, major exams, etc.
For courses being offered in classroom mode, some students may be allowed to attend
them online (i.e. the lecture and presentation will be streamed live)
This means that universities have to gear up to provide, in addition to regular education,
online education also –MOOC-style lectures, synchronous online teaching, and streaming of live
lectures. We view the third option as straightforward use of technology to have a distributed
class, which reduces the need for classroom infrastructure, and do not discuss it further.
Once universities adopt a blended model where some courses may be offered online, then
the entire repository of online courses available becomes a resource –the university does not
have to necessarily create its own courses. Using externally created courses may not be used by
22 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
the top universities of the world who may want to offer their own courses to their students,
they will be useful for many universities, particularly those which have limited faculty resources.
How the openly available online courses are used is where universities in India, particularly those
who are currently not able to offer good quality courses due to lack of faculty, will differ from
those in developed countries. Most Indian universities are likely to be more of a consumer of
online courses at least in the near term.
So far the use of externally developed courses for credit has been limited in India –despite
them being available for quite some time now. The covid crisis may provide the impetus to use
them, as online teaching and learning becomes more widely accepted, and as regulations for
their use become more flexible. How this use will pan out actually will depend on other forces
However, for using externally created courses, the issue of student motivation and assessment
has to be addressed, if academic credits are to be given. There are various ways to address this.
For example, having a doubt clearing synchronous session every week by the local instructor,
some separate assignments based on the online material that are submitted to the local
instructor, some proctored exams, etc.
If the university using an externally created course does not have suitable local instructors for
the course, which is likely to be the case for many universities in India, then the approaches
mentioned above may not be feasible. In such a situation, innovative approaches will have to be
used, for example, using peers for doubt clearing, peer grading, perhaps taking help from exter-
nal faculty (maybe the creator of the course) for doubt clearing sessions, assigning TAs who are
required to have done the online course earlier and then have them coordiante peer-discussions,
assessments, checking if the students have submitted online assignments, etc.
Interestingly, few studies have been done on how to effectively and efficiently consume exter-
nally created courses such that learning outcomes are achieved. There is a need to experiment
more with it and develop suitable approaches. If many universities in India and other countries
move toward consuming externally created online courses for providing academic credit, we
may see some innovative approaches emerging to address the issues in such a use, which may
provide further boost to online course consumption and improve the quality of education in uni-
versities that have a shortage of qualified faculty.
Reforming online education
University of Hong Kong, Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong
After the great experiment of moving traditional education online across much of the world,
there can be no doubt that online education works differently from brick-and-mortar schooling.
This raises many positive possibilities: Access to quality education can be increased, and with it a
global sense of citizenship and sociality. More generally, there are calls for societal leaders to not
revert backwards after such experiments, to the ‘old normal’, described by Roy (2020) as a world
of prejudice, hate and avarice.
Yet at the same time, educators experience new ethical challenges moving online. A first chal-
lenge relates to access. In many elite educational institutions, computer labs (and in some cases,
office spaces) have been shrinking over time, while students and instructors are presumed to be
online elsewhere, on personal laptops, phones, and other devices. Yet for ordinary people, pri-
vate spaces and high-tech devices are costly resources. Personal access to fast data is also not a
right to take for granted. Even in China and Hong Kong, relatively well-equipped to move online,
technical challenges remain (Lau et al., 2020). So as the world goes online, many get left behind.
This raises serious ethical concerns for assessing students, particularly in this academic year, as
many students have lost access to institutional resources which were necessary to their success.
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 23
Additionally, technologies are not neutral. Many embraced Zoom before thinking through its
privacy and security policies (Paul, 2020). Zoom users’personal data gets sent to Facebook, even
if they are not Facebook users. In some cases, classes have been hacked by trolls posting offen-
sive and hateful content. These realities signal that greater caution is needed in light of the eth-
ical dimensions of selecting and using online meeting tools, especially in educational contexts,
where students cannot normally decline professors and institutions’choices.
Finally, there are challenges that might be categorized as ‘existential’. When everyone stays at
home, this increases risks of domestic violence, mental illness, and other emotional distress
(Vutsinas, 2020). Educators who are parents of young children have their work cut out for them, to
teach classes at home near their children, who do not understand the situation. After just a few
months, people are coming to terms with online fatigue (Sklar, 2020). Trying to do what they did
in the past is exhausting, given challenges related to maintaining interpersonal connections
through flickering videos, with each person’s face taking up one surreal square on a screen.
This reflection does not mean to condemn going online, in favor of the ‘old normal’. Life and
education were hardly perfect in 2019. Yet as educators embrace the new, it is vital to critically
reflect on ethical challenges related to transforming practices, so that the new norms do not
merely shuffle old problems. As a more equitable and just future is sought, educators must con-
tinue to respond to the realities faced, which provide new challenges along with new possibil-
ities. While it is normalized, online education must also be reformed, for it to play a positive
social and educational role, in these times marked by new, incredible challenges.
Lau, J., Yang, B., Dasgupta, R. (2020). Will the coronavirus make online education go viral? Times Higher Education.
Paul, K. (2020). Worried about Zoom’s privacy problems? A guide to your video-conferencing options, The
Roy, A. (2020). The pandemic is a portal. Financial Times.https://www.ft.com/content/10d8f5e8-74eb-11ea-95fe-
Sklar, J. (2020). ‘Zoom fatigue’is taxing the brain. Here’s why that happens. National Geographic. https://www.natio-
Vutsinas, A. (2020). Managing domestic violence in a work at home world. Security Magazine. https://www.security-
After the COVID-19 crisis: Why higher education may (and perhaps should)
never be the same
Mary Kalantzis and Bill Cope
University of Illinois (Urbana Champaign), Champaign, IL, USA
Traditional residential universities have dragged their feet making the move to online teaching
and learning. Commuter colleges, too, have kept lecture theaters, classrooms and textbooks as
core tools of their trade. The core business of traditional teaching and its auxiliary place-bound
services have put a brake on the innovation needed to build innovative and engaging online
learning infrastructures and approaches.
Suddenly, with this COVID-19 crisis, everyone must be online. Few universities or colleges are
prepared for such a rapid shift.
Meanwhile, the conventional wisdom remains, the gold-standard for learning is traditional
face-to-face, while online is second-best. Often reluctantly and in a piecemeal fashion, many col-
leges have tried to migrate their traditional practices online. They have made awkward attempts
to replicate the traditional classroom with video lectures, e-textbooks, online tests and learning
management systems that look like old-fashioned syllabi. The result is often a step back into all
that was wrong with didactic modes of teaching.
24 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
But perhaps, even without COVID-19, higher education might have been on the verge of a
deep structural crisis. One dimension of the looming crisis has been ballooning student debt.
The fancy lecture theaters and the manicured lawns are ridiculously expensive. The students
have been asked to pay more and more, and increasingly they can’t.
Another crisis is what we call ‘attentional’. Sitting in classes and listening to lectures is an absurdly
sub-optimal cognitive load for today’s students who on their personal devices have become
habituated to designing their own information feeds then skipping through their messages.
So, even if we didn’t expect to have to move online as precipitously as since COVID-19, at the
very least, in-person learning was ripe for radical transformation.
At the University of Illinois, we’ve been researching this transformation, and developing and
testing online learning solutions. As senior professors in a historically residential university,
already we only teach online.
Here are five reasons why, and why we would never choose to teach in-person again.
Simply put, online can be completely different, and with the right tools, potentially
much superior to in-person teaching. These are also the very reasons we must discard the
back-to-the-future learning management systems. To reap the benefits of online learning, we
need to abandon the current generation educational technologies –systems and processes that
mostly do little more than reverse-engineer traditional classrooms.
Scale up higher education and scale down its costs
In-person education does not scale. To achieve universal college education –and this surely, is
what we need for all citizens to face their personal as well as collective futures –we need to
reduce the costs of teaching and learning.
It’s not just a matter of reducing the need for expensive physical plant. It is also a matter of
making it possible for all workers and all those with domestic caring responsibilities to access
higher education without having to leave their communities and homes.
This can only be achieved with online education as a thoroughly renovated version of dis-
tance learning. Today, to those taking online courses we only offer a small discount. To achieve
access for all, the sticker prices for online learning can and must be vastly reduced.
Unless of course, post-secondary education becomes a publicly supported right in the same
way as K-12 education. But even in that scenario, it would have to become cheaper for govern-
ment and its taxpayers.
Develop pedagogies of social knowledge and collaborative intelligence
It’s the human interaction that makes in-person learning so valuable, say its supporters. Yet in
the lecture theater, all the students have to sit silently while the instructor speaks. In the class-
room discussion, only one person can speak at a time. In these respects, the lecture theater and
the classroom are hardly social, except when it comes to communicating pathogens. Not only
are these suboptimal forms of communication in the era of social media. Paradoxically, their
communications architectures are systems of social isolation.
Here is the difference with online learning: the educator might create videos, not like the lec-
tures of old, but in short and digestible chunks. These are not simply to ‘tell’, but always prompt
discussion and elicit contributions from students in the feed below the video. (The lecture of the
truly ‘flipped classroom’certainly should not be a recording of old-style in-person lectures.) The
student can stop and start, review or skip, slow down or double the speed. Learning analytics
will credit students for their engagement.
Then classroom discussions: instead of one person speaking at a time, everyone can comment
in a social media-like feed, at the same time or at their convenience. These discussions can be
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 25
synchronous or asynchronous. Engagement does not have to be locked into the four walls of
the classroom and the cells of the timetable.
Here, students earn none of the conventional rewards for arrogance, nor are they penalized
by social inhibitions or reticence –dynamics that create imbalances of participation in traditional
classrooms. Indeed, everyone can be required to respond, and to measurably equivalent degrees.
Learning analytics can track every learner’s engagement. This is simply a far superior communica-
tion and pedagogical architecture.
Create pedagogies of intense engagement
In the traditional model, learners are positioned as knowledge consumers –of lecture or text-
book content, for instance –eventually demonstrating their absorption of acquired knowledge in
end-of-course, summative assessments.
Lecture and textbooks may have been a matter of logistical necessity in heritage educational
architectures. Rather than just put these online in recorded lectures and e-textbooks, e-learning
ecologies open new possibilities.
In online learning architectures it is possible to position learners as knowledge producers and
co-contributors to knowledge communities. One way to do this is to have students research and
make posts into the class activity stream that exemplify themes prompted by instructors.
Another is to create peer-reviewed projects, where interim feedback in the knowledge produc-
tion process comes from multiple perspectives: peer, instructor and machine feedback. Then
projects can be published and shared by the instructor to the community as collect-
The role of the instructor is to design e-learning ecologies, leveraging the social-collaborative
complexity enabled by social knowledge technologies. (We use the phrase ‘social knowledge’
because the mainstream social media are completely inappropriate for learning, given the size of
their communicative chunks and way their algorithms prioritize posts.)
Embedded, on-the-fly formative assessments can track community engagement and personal
progress. An example: in one of our recent 8-week courses with 54 students, using our
CGScholar platform there were 14,500 pieces of actionable feedback on 3.3 m datapoints, giving
students and instructors a far richer and more reliable picture of learning than ever possible with
a traditional test.
Focus on higher order thinking
Traditional instruction and assessment measures long-term memory of fact and the correct appli-
cation of procedure. (Definition of long-term: until the day of the test.)
Today, the devices that we keep close to our bodies serve us as cognitive prostheses. They
remember things for us. We can look up far more knowledge than we could ever remember.
Our apps execute procedures for us.
So, the foundational objectives of education change. Learning is about careful navigation of
at-hand knowledge resources. It is about appropriate application of machine-supported proce-
dures. More important than long-memory is higher order thinking, including critical, creative and
The core capacities required by graduates are changing rapidly. These reduce the importance
of long-term domain memory. Today’s graduate capabilities include evidence-based reasoning,
argumentation in support of verifiable claims, and testable judgment-calls.
Online environments can uniquely achieve this, by leveraging collaborative knowledge proc-
esses. Instead of individual minds, the social mind is acknowledged in the provenance of know-
ledge and the collaborative contributions of peers in the learning process.
26 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
Artificial intelligence can track and offer suggestions on the basis of what we term ‘complex
epistemic performance’. Machine learning works synergistically with human learning.
Lifelong and lifewide learning
University and college education has been for the past several centuries a time of life. It has also
required that the student is for a time taken out of life. This institutional form can be traced
back to the monastic origins of universities in the early modern west and east.
Online learning, by contrast, can be embedded in the real world. It can be continuous, lasting
for as long as life and stretching as wide as social and personal needs. What we love about the
students in our online courses is that, by day, they are in the world. They bring knowledge and
experience that we instructors could never have imagined, contributing this as partners in our
knowledge communities. They can also test, live in real-world contexts, the new things they
have learned in our classes.
But now the problem: none of the main commercial or open source learning management
systems can do what we have just promised. The potential is there, but all rely on 1990s
teacher-centered, hub-and-spoke, file-upload/download architectures. None are instrumented
adequately for social knowledge, collaborative learning, or artificial intelligence. All try ponder-
ously, painfully, to replicate the traditional classroom, perhaps with a few clumsy patches to
mimic social networking.
In this time of crisis, we must seize the day. We must imagine a different future for higher
education. If we are to adopt a stance of strategic optimism, we may be on the cusp of the big-
gest change since the invention of the social processes and artifacts of higher education in early
The danger is that, as people are thrown abruptly into online learning, they will be compelled
to use flawed systems with limited training, confirming their worst fears about the quality of the
online teaching and learning experience. Focused investment needs to be made in people and
technology to renew and revitalize our pedagogical and social values. If nothing else, this crisis
should lead to that.
Educational transmogrification and exigent pedagogical imaginaries
in pandemic times
Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
The Covid-19 pandemic simultaneously engages, intensifies and subverts existing educational
inequity and iniquity. This begs the question of whether pedagogical imaginaries can emerge in
pandemic times that gesture toward significant educational equity, virtue and dignity. Gesture is
important. It is a sign that insists on, yet, resists the deadness of our time. It signifies life left in the
educational body, the body hoping to be educated, always available for educational resurrection.
As the coronavirus pathogen spreads roughshod across the world, it affects our ‘right to
breathe’, causing us finally to account for our own death (Mbembe, 2020). Yet, pandemic times, on
our death bed, allow us to fantasize, nay imagine, the rebirthing of life, a life yet denuded and
repressed, squeezed of its last breath by the suffocation and destruction wrought by decades of
neoliberal education reform, now corralled and transmogrified under pandemic conditions.
Transmogrification in South Africa has become manifest in the emergence of a pandemic
pedagogy based on the rapid move to online education. This is a country where the right to
breathe is vastly unequally distributed. Online education has rapidly come to authorize visions of
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 27
a default educational life under the pandemic. However, only 20% of the country’s educational
institutions have managed to move their curricula online, with varying levels of efficiency. The
most efficient institutions grafted their online offerings onto colonially and apartheid
A deracialised and now middle-classed student body, the 20% elite surfaced by contemporary
market-based assimilationism, is finally fulfilling the neoliberal dream of isolation from the
barbarians. Locked down behind the barriers of pandemic isolation, these students are self-
educating, staring into screens in a state of anguished comfort. What has emerged is a pandemic
pedagogy accomplished through the modality of the machine and accompanying online learning
platforms. The triumph of techne and instrumental reason has emerged as the victor in the early
life of the pandemic. A maladapted vision of doing the new educational normal has been
installed, circulating tropes of older knowledge exclusion, seamlessly, unquestioningly.
Despite its prominence in the curriculum imagination under the pandemic, online education
is a minority experience. The majority of the country’s students, black and poor, are experiencing
pandemic lockdown without any meaningful education. Their schools, colleges and universities
have been shut to prevent viral spread in decrepit and packed living quarters that make
physical distancing unlikely.
Their educational institutions are unable to leverage robust online platforms for learning.
These students are bereft of machines for learning and data for connectivity. Positioned
in spaces of intense squalor, they exercise their desperate bodies as a type of soft infrastructure,
plugging welfare gaps, looking after siblings and parents with co-morbidities such as
tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
They engage in a ‘pedagogy of care’to develop practices of survival. They invent ways
of assuaging their family’s food hunger that increased manifold under pandemic lockdown,
securing clean water and obtaining medicines, masks and sanitizing equipment.
Instead of isolation, the majority student experience is one of intense engagement with the
existing resources and infrastructures of their environments. They are engaged in informalised,
context-mitigating, and socially engaged processes of learning to survive, and to keep body,
mind and soul together. They acquire contextually engaged critical literacies that are vital
for their survival and adaptation. Their intellectual engagement and practices of mitigation have
foregrounded intensified relational pedagogical engagement. Such a perspective holds lessons
for resuscitating pedagogical imaginaries in pandemic times.
Mbembe, A. (2020). The universal right to breathe. Critical Inquiry, Online journal. Retrieved April 20, 2020, from
Higher education after the virus
University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
Once asked asked in an interview what he thought was likely to happen down the line, the
distinguished Scottish historian, Tom Devine, laconically observed that ‘The future is not my
period’! I rather think this about university education in a post-covid age in so far as whatever
predictions one might make they are likely to be confounded. Covid has certainly put the
cat amongst the pigeons but does it presage an interruption or a revolution? I suspect it’s a bit
of both. Its certainly true that the conservatism and legendary reluctance of Senates/Academic
Boards to compromise on their ‘gate-keeper’birthright disappeared in an Alladin-like puff
of smoke as academics, globally put their teaching material, lectures and resources on-line.
28 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
Together with the rapid and almost universal adoption of communication technologies this shift
no doubt herald’s the consolidation of a move that was already in motion. The penchant for
rhetoricising educational innovation in the University has grown apace over the last decade and
no doubt will continue to do so. The current obsession with the empty phraseology of the
‘flipped classroom’, coined by people who obviously weren’t teaching high school in the 1970s
and 80s will no doubt morph into the wonders of augmented reality and haptics. Liked ‘flipped
classrooms’, who can be against these material developments –after all universities have played
key roles in their development.
But, as to substance, when you look closely at some of the most heralded innovations such
as the Rain classroom in Tsinghua the substance remains remarkably familiar. And while no
doubt we will be able to create a wide range of augmented resources we will still need to edu-
cate students to think though even now that represents a variable geometry! The technology
will no doubt change the HE experience for some though they are likely to be those who
already have diminished access to cultural capital.
So, what are some of the structural challenges we face? –The last decade and a half have
witnessed an extraordinary wave of student mobility from East to West. However, in parallel, sub-
stantial infrastructure development has been taking place in China/East Asia. Ostentatious build-
ings and well-equipped laboratories and libraries sprang up everywhere and as the ripple effects
of Covid-19 continue across economies, student mobility is likely to be a casualty. You might be
forgiven for thinking that the myriad surveys on student intentions (see e.g. QS survey report at
https://www.qs.com/how-international-students-are-responding-to-covid-19/) tell a different story;
one where deferral rather than decline is the order of the day but I would suggest that other
forces will be accelerated by this crisis. There will be a short to medium term bounce back and
then, for universities in the largely receiving economies, a slow decline.
The economic damage of the lockdown will have long reaching effects in university education
and while neither futurology or economics is my field there is likely to be a medium-term chain
reaction that will shift the balance of educational power away from Europe, in particular, the UK,
N. America and Australia. Despite the initial bounce back, the Covid pandemic has exposed the
extraordinary reliance of global supply chains on China (938/1000Fortune 100 companies have
tier1/2 suppliers in the Wuhan region alone). This reliance affects not just material goods but
services, including and most especially University provision in the UK, US and Australia in particu-
lar but, also, in more recent years, with a significant impact on the countries of the EU. Over the
last two decades the cross subsidies offered by flows of international students have not only
seen transfers from teaching income to research activity but also the propping up of the anglo-
phone research infrastructure. Unless and until governments in places like Australia, the UK,
Ireland and the US are prepared to take responsibility for funding their own university infrastruc-
ture it is likely that we will see a significant decline in their output and global performance.
Given that the economic conditions in some G20 countries are likely to be difficult if not tor-
tured it is unlikely that most governments will see shoring up the funding of universities as a pri-
ority. This, in turn, is likely to lead to diminished reputations and a consequent slow-down in
student transfers. In the particular case of the UK, the conditions of Brexit will substantially
exacerbate the economic difficulties posed by Covid-19. Where governments do offer support
packages for universities these are likely to be accompanied by substantial conditions driving
universities to accelerate the extant trend to down grade or dissolve much of the humanities
and social sciences and, where they remain, increasingly tailor them to the cultural economy.
The alacrity with which global tech companies have engaged with global organizations (see
Williamson’s excellent mapping of this relationship at https://codeactsineducation.wordpress.
com/2020/04/01/new-pandemic-edtech-power-networks/) has been eye-watering if not entirely
surprising. In a world of crisis capitalism ‘every challenge is an opportunity’. And, of course, while
the rhetoric is suffused with perfunctory nods to altruism the real goal is market position, most
especially but not exclusively with respect to developing economies. The heady admixture of
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 29
hardware, software platforms and pseudo pedagogies will be seductive and no doubt govern-
ments keen to break the apparent monopoly of traditional universities will embrace much of
this. The market-place will become crowded and some traditional universities in those economies
where public services are often subject to market impulses will struggle with likely mergers and
closures. In the short term the large research universities will take the major hit but this is likely
to change over time.
None of this will have a long-term impact on the collegial and social nature of education in
the large research institutions despite many experiencing a slow relative decline in global pres-
tige. These institutions will embrace a more market-focused world, their academics will have
diminished control over the intellectual direction of their institution, having already ceded
administrative control; they will embrace and have the resources to embrace augmented and vir-
tual realities, haptics and blended learning; they will indeed move from the rather sterile upload-
ing of their slides and lectures to more sophisticated pedagogies in a loose blended learning
environment. But that environment will continue to be shaped by the materiality of the physical
university with its cues and clues, it’s advanced technology buildings and ‘learning centres’(i.e.
that which we used to call a library), its tutorials and seminars and ‘the university experience’.
Arising from the already existing and pressing need to address the spiraling cost but insufficient
revenues of a full university education (see the work of Sarah Goldrick-Rabb and her team at the
Hope Center at Temple University), we will see the further solidification of differential class
access to HE with those from first generation and economically challenged backgrounds having
diminished opportunities to attend the most elite institutions. None of this is inevitable but
resisting some of the logic would require governments in places like Australia, the US and the
UK to re-discover levels of magnanimity and trust that have, for some time, been absent.
Back to school! A future for the university post-Covid-19
Maynooth University, Ireland
There is much to be said about the past, present and future of the university, and even more so
at this critical moment in time –a time of ‘crisis’, which should not be understood as chaos, but,
going back to the Greek word ‘krinein’, as a turning point that calls for judgment. Less than the
modern optimism of ‘What shall we do?’or, in more shallow form, ‘What do we fancy?’, we are
faced with a different question: ‘What is this asking from us?’This question asks for a response,
not a reflex, but of course many of the responses that are emerging –and there is certainly no
lack of them –are not much more than reflexes, formed in a different time and under differ-
Some of these reflexes are clearly opportunistic in that they seize an opportunity that was
previously more difficult to achieve, or even impossible or unthinkable. While the commercial
interest in education is no secret (see first of all Stephen Ball’s ground-breaking analyses; Ball,
2007,2012), it is telling, but not remarkable, how swiftly Google has been offering its ‘help’,
which, of course, it is offering ‘for free’,
just as Pearson is ‘accelerating its move to be a more
digitally focused company’, expecting ‘interest in its digital products to pick up as it makes some
products free to use’.
If the future is about competition in the global market for ‘online
learning’, there is little hope for the university, other than as a local delivery point for two or
three global providers –the Starbucks model of higher education.
The German educationalist Klaus Prange helpfully reminds us that the word ‘school’goes
back to the Greek word for ‘leisure’(rvokή), not to be understood as time to relax, but as time
that has been ‘freed up’–we might also say: time that has been emancipated –first and
30 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
foremost from the economic demands of production (see Prange, 2012, p. 120). In a world that
is under pressure –social pressure, economic pressure and even the very basic pressure for sur-
vival –freeing up time may sound like the very luxury we can no longer afford. But such a popu-
list critique of the university and education more generally, would be a serious mistake (see also
Biesta, 2011,2019a,2019b). After all, the very thing we need when under pressure is time to
come to judgment, rather than relying on our quick reflexes. This is one reason why in this time
the university literally needs to go back to school.
Prange emphasizes, however, that the word ‘school’also goes back to the Greek word
afeim), which is about showing, presenting, representing and thus about teach-
ing (see ibid.). This is not about teaching as a form of control –the travesty of education that
has given teaching such as bad name (see Biesta, 2017)–but about teaching as an act of (re)p-
resenting the world and inviting and encouraging students to pay attention, individually and col-
lectively, to what is ‘out there’. This is the school, not as a place for learning or a learning
community, online or otherwise, but as a place where you are giving what you were not looking
for, first of all because you may not even be aware that you could be looking for it. Not looking
for the obvious, but helping each other to look elsewhere, is the other reason why in this time
the university needs to go back to school (see also Biesta, 2013).
20. See, for example, https://teachercenter.withgoogle.com/ [accessed 25 April 2020].
21. The I, 25 April 2020, p. 76.
Ball, S. J. (2007). Education Plc. Understanding private sector participation in public sector education. Routledge.
Ball, S. J. (2012). Global education Inc. New policy networks and the neo-liberal imaginary. Routledge.
Biesta, G. J. J. (2011). How useful should the university be? On the rise of the global university and the crisis in
higher education. Qui Parle: Critical Humanities and Social Sciences,20(1), 35–47.
Biesta, G. J. J. (2013). Balancing the core activities of universities: For a university that teaches. In R. Sugden, J.
Wilson, & M. Valania (Eds.), Leadership and cooperation in academia: Reflecting on the roles and responsibilities of
university faculty and management (pp. 32–42). Edward Elgar.
Biesta, G. J. J. (2017). The rediscovery of teaching. Routledge.
Biesta, G. J. J. (2019a). Schulen im Shopping-Zeitalter. In S. Fehrmann (Ed.), Schools of tomorrow (pp. 60–71).
Matthes & Seitz.
Biesta, G. J. J. (2019b). What kind of society does the school need? Redefining the democratic work of education in
impatient times. Studies in Philosophy and Education,38(6), 657–668. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11217-019-09675-y
Prange, K. (2012). Erziehung as Handwerk. Studien zur Zeigestruktur der Erziehung. Ferdinand Sch€
COVID-19 foreshadowing Earth’s environmental tipping point: Education’s
transformation needed to avoid the ledge
Beijing Normal University, Beijing, PR China
The devastating COVID-19 pandemic has provided windows to view needed transformation to
help end devastation emergent from outside our subjective, political ‘world’(anthropocentric
sphere), including environmental unsustainability. Pedagogically, these views help to recognize
the needed changes, challenges, and possibilities of environmental teaching (in/non/formal). In
my ecopedagogical work (ecopedagogies as critical, Freirean-based environmental pedagogies
and research), I have utilized the term distancing in teaching that falsely separates: environmen-
tal and social violence, ‘their’socio-environmental oppressions from ‘ours’(e.g. non/citizen, (neo)-
colonized/er), and the world as within Earth (planetary sphere) (Misiaszek, 2018, 2020b).
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 31
Distancing can take on many forms including, geographically, timewise, reproducing
othering from socio-historical oppressions (e.g. racism, patriarchy, xenophobia, coloniality),
epistemologically, and intersectionalities between these and other forms. Global turmoil
caused by COVID-19 illuminates that the world’s subjective essence and polity cannot alter
objective, apolitical Nature outside of the world (i.e. laws of Nature), no matter how intense
post-truthism becomes or the amount of bullshit, as defined by Frankfurt (2005), is shoveled.
In Illich’s(1983) terminology, degendered here slightly, who is often viewed as founding
ecopedagogy, the pandemic has shown ‘modern [wo]man’that s/he does not control Nature
without impunity to satisfy their all wants/needs constructed by ‘scientists, engineers, and
planners’, but rather recognizing that ‘primitive [wo]man’had better self-positionality
We must utilize the ongoing, diverse experiences from COVID-19 to dissolve non-critical
education, including shallow environmental pedagogies, for teaching for critically
literacy (e.g. ecopedagogical literacy)–reading that de-distances socio-environmental
violence and counter epistemological foundations that justify world-Earth violence. As the
metaphorical ‘frog’in water slowly coming to a boil, such reading should have the goal
of jumping out.
I argue this not naively, as I problematize why, with the most information ever available
at our fingertips, people believe they can ‘will’COVID-19 away without decisive, collective
action; ‘understand’Nature through false-truths based on propagandized opinions (see
Misiaszek, 2020a); and rely on neoliberal ideologies that have the Self’s private sphere solely
valued by devaluing public spheres (see Postma, 2006), including ‘others’unhealthiness.
Banking education, including banking environmental pedagogies, systematically obstructs
students’ability to critically read the world-Earth holistically (Freire, 2004), but rather helps
entrench understandings that lead toward planetary devastation (although Earth will con-
tinue with/out humans) –denial of COVID-19 illustrates this. These and other factors coin-
cide with environmental false understandings, for example, 39% of the U.S. believe climate
change is little to no threat.
Finally, how can education provide the tools to critically read neoliberalism? (as neoliberalism
only works if normalized without recognizing possible alternatives and if its essence of sustain-
ing/intensifying hegemony is veiled). The lack of ethics and morality of neoliberalism has
emerged from the pandemic, as questions of ‘opening up economies’are prioritized over
humanism and local-to-global collectivism needed to stop COVID-19. For example, discussions
on U.S. healthcare too often return to healthcare cost calculations as dominating factors, as justi-
fied by neoliberalism. Teaching to read and then act to disrupt such dehumanizing calculations
(praxis) should be lessons from COVID-19, as well as countering deplanetarizing calculations
through ecopedagogical literacy.
Frankfurt, H. G. (2005). On bullshit. Princeton University Press.
Freire, P. (2004). Pedagogy of indignation. Paradigm Publishers.
Illich, I. (1983). Deschooling society (1st Harper Colophon ed.). Harper Colophon.
Misiaszek, G. W. (2018). Educating the global environmental citizen: Understanding ecopedagogy in local and global
Misiaszek, G. W. (2020a). Countering post-truths through ecopedagogical literacies: Teaching to critically read
“development”and “sustainable development. Educational Philosophy and Theory,52(7), 747–758. https://doi.
Misiaszek, G. W. (2020b). Ecopedagogy: Critical environmental teaching for planetary justice and global sustainable
Postma, D. W. (2006). Why care for nature?: In search of an ethical framework for environmental responsibility and
32 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
The significance of border ethics in a time of pandemic
Suzanne S. Choo
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
When WHO pronounced Covid-19 as a pandemic in March 2020, countries started closing their
national borders. The closing of physical borders, however, should not correspond with the wall-
ing of one’s heart and mind. More than ever, there should be a concerted effort to deterritorial-
ize claims to power and knowledge through a foregrounding of border ethics in education.
The closure of universities and schools coupled with the shift to online learning has centered
much attention on innovative digital tools and pedagogies. Less discussion has been paid to the
connection between values and pedagogy. In other words, the spotlight on episteme (know-
ledge) and techne (craft or practice) has marginalized phronesis (commonly translated as practical
wisdom as determined by virtues of character). The interconnections among these ideas are
rooted in the Aristotelian end of human flourishing and the intellectual and moral virtues tied to
this. Similarly, for Confucius, the cultivation of ren, denoting humaneness or cosmopolitan love,
is the lifelong pursuit of the exemplary man who trains himself to be morally responsive to
others in the world. The acquisition of knowledge and skills are subjugated to this virtue.
In this time of global crisis, the relationship between knowledge and pedagogy be grounded
on border ethics, even when teaching and learning takes place in the virtual space. Notions of
border thinking and border pedagogy were conceptualized at least two decades ago. For
example, Mignolo (2000) had argued that border thinking was a necessary intervention to de-
center hermeneutical and epistemological discourses perpetuated by Western colonialism and
neoliberal imperialism. Such border thinking needed to occur, he had argued, from the perspec-
tive of the subaltern and is reflective of ‘other thinking’. Border ethics involved an inquiry into
the world through the eyes of the other in which one learns to to be ‘epistemically disobedient’
by critically reframing the geopolitical situatedness of knowledge (Mignolo, 2013, p. 137).
Similarly, Giroux’s(1988) notion of border pedagogy envisioned students engaging as border
crossers to counter texts and memory constructed around coordinates of difference and power.
In the current context, border consciousness remains as relevant as ever and there may even
be a greater need to resuscitate it as a fundamental lens to interpreting the Covid crisis, and the
future that lies ahead. The permeation of global risks into everyday realities has led to the erec-
tion of physical, political and cultural walls that have become the zeitgeist of our century
(Brown, 2010). Walls define territorial spaces; they provide an image of security in containing
and defending those on the inside from foreign intrusion. Yet, the fundamental effect of walling
is in normalizing othering. This trend needs to be resisted.
I propose border ethics as a course of study as well as an ethical lens applied to readings of
contemporary culture. The latter could encompass three key questions as a launch-pad for
sitize students to spatial, political, and discursive boundaries and those with the power to mark them.
This involves examining how physical boundaries function as roadblocks for marginalized groups and
how the construction of discursive markers (e.g. ‘China virus’)hasxenophobiceffects.
Second, how have boundaries shifted and what values have changed as a result? In reflecting
on the collapse of morality in Nazi Germany, Arendt (2003) observes the reversion of morality to
its etymological roots denoting custom or manners. She observes how easily a set of moral val-
ues may be exchanged for another, like how table manners can be quickly substituted. This flu-
idity of moral values is observed in how, in times of crisis, cosmopolitan and humanist values are
easily discarded in favor of tribal and fundamentalist beliefs. Our critical analysis should identify
instances when institutional and symbolic forms of violence become normalized for the
preservation of the non-other.
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 33
And finally, in what ways can we unbound the imagination and re-envision cosmopolitan pos-
sibilities? Imagination is an expandable faculty of mind that is also bounded by prejudices
formed by historical and media stereotypes. In moments of crisis, curriculum time should be
intentionally reserved for engagements with ‘othered’groups (migrants, poor, mentally ill etc.)
through the inclusion of memoirs, literature, and other arts that disrupt fossilized beliefs and pro-
voke greater ‘investedness’into securing their dignity and flourishing. Even as the current pan-
demic fuels anti-globalization sentiments, education should reiterate the cosmopolitan
possibilities of living with others especially those on the margins.
Arendt, H. (2003). Responsibility and judgment. Schocken.
Brown, W. (2010). Walled states, waning sovereignty. Zone Books.
Giroux, H. A. (1988). Border pedagogy in the age of postmodernism. Journal of Education,170(3), 162–181. https://
Mignolo, W. D. (2000). The many faces of cosmo-polis: Border thinking and critical cosmopolitanism. Public Culture,
12(3), 721–748. https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-12-3-721
Mignolo, W. D. (2013). Politics of sensing & knowing: On (de)coloniality, border thinking, & epistemic disobedience.
Confero Essays on Education Philosophy and Politics,1(1), 129–150. https://doi.org/10.3384/confero.2001-4562.
What kind of university do we deserve?
University of Applied Sciences in Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
In 1860, the French philosopher Joseph De Maistre wrote: ‘Every nation gets the government it
deserves’(Da Maistre & Blanc, 1860). While there is no doubt that any group of people is indeed
collectively responsible for its own government, it would be cynical and unfair to say that Helga
from Hamburg, or Luigi from Torino, are personally responsible for crimes of the Third Reich.
This popular adage cuts straight into the heart of the relationship between individual and
We are all responsible for our individual actions, from our voting choices to recycling, yet
none of us, regular citizens, can make a significant impact on electing the ‘best’government or
on reducing global warming. Periodically, leaders such as Stalin, Tito, Malcolm X, Adolf Hitler,
Mao Zedong, Mahatma Gandhi, Donald Trump and many others, will stand up and take the lead.
Depending on historical conjecture and their personal inclinations, some of these people will
become heroes and others will become villains. But millions of people who died under the Nazi
regime did not die of Hitler’s hand, and the US anti-racist legislation was not written by Malcolm
X. It is within the curious combination of the individual and the collective, that historical events
slowly and often unpredictably unfold into being.
In the second part of the 20
century, the university has reached one of its most advanced histor-
ical formations. From Europe to the US, through Eastern Bloc to Asia, universities have opened their
doors to post-WW2 first-generation students who could study for little or no money and who knew
that their degrees would lead to life prospects better than their parents’. Hello boomers! The world is
yours to explore, exploit, and pollute! Yet the boomers’world was short-lived, and today’s genera-
tions are faced with expensive studies in their youth followed up by many years of insecure work
and huge student debt. Add a spoon of global warming, and just a pinch of the coronavirus …and
this generation’s sardonic response to their parents’generation’scritiques,‘OK boomer!’,isjusta
weak bite by an old dog trying to prove she still has sharp teeth.
In our liquid modernity no-one is personally responsible for the advent of the managerialist
university –most people and institutions are just trying to survive the general trend. Surely, we
34 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
do have university chancellors who make more $1 million per year,
roaring precarization of
teachers, and all other evils described in numerous writings against the managerialist university.
However, the existence of individual villains does not relieve us from our collective responsibility:
echoing De Maistre, our generation has the university it deserves. The Covid-19 pandemic –
which is an interesting case of individual vs. collective responsibility in its own right (see Jandri
2020)–provides us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reexamine the fragile, ever-changing
balance between our individual and collective interests.
While we ponder on the changing nature of individuality and sociality, while we develop new
concepts and ideas such as knowledge socialism (Peters et al., 2021, forthcoming), while we cry
over the boomers’university which is no more and struggle against the managerialist university
which is at its historical peak –we need to sit back and admit to ourselves that the struggle for
the future of the university starts from within. Instead of asking, What kind of university do we
want?,orWhat kind of University do we need?, let us, for once, try and ask a more down to earth
question which implies a mix of individual and collective responsibility: What kind of university
do we deserve?
22. See https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/slideshows/10-public-universities-run-by-highest-paid-presidents
De Maistre, J., & Blanc, A. (1860). Correspondance Diplomatique De Joseph De Maistre V2: 1811-1817. Kessinger.
c, P. (2020). Postdigital research in the time of Covid-19. Postdigital Science and Education,2(2), 233–238.
Peters, M. A., Besley, T., Jandri
c, P., & Zhu, X. (2021, forthcoming). Knowledge socialism. The rise of peer production:
Collegiality, collaboration, and collective intelligence. Springer.
Samuel M. Holton Distinguished Professor, Professor Philosophy of Education,
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
At the conclusion of their intriguing invitation to comment on universities’futures post-pan-
demic, Peters and Rizvi turned to a possible re-visioning for more democratic and just societies.
My remarks arise in the context of the United States, philosophical work dedicated to democratic
reform, and recent teaching of university undergraduates. I begin by acknowledging that in the
fall 2020 semester my university as others will be emphasizing new practices of digital and
online teaching. My sense, moreover, is that students already are familiar with advances in tech-
nology and will adapt readily. Their professors may be the ones challenged.
My interest is less about this welcome technological inevitability than with dangers to democ-
racy. Impacting this concern, in the US in for many decades now colleges and universities have
‘educated’students in narrow occupational and professional preparation. This aim is embraced
by students in spite of academicians teaching undergraduates who value their disciplinary focus
in the two-year general curriculum requirements and even though two years of a major.
Professional schools add to this endeavor.
Tackling basic democratic purposes—these are multiple and not just in education–and their
structural elements in the US requires a bit of context. First a premise: the present historic
moment actually offers an opportunity for democracy in America. Second the educational scope:
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 35
unlike many much smaller nations, post-secondary education in the US is vast. There are over
5000 institutions, with 1600 each public and private four-year schools. Available public sources
document that nearly 20 million students attend with three times as many in public schools as
in private. There is so much more to American higher education than the ‘famous’colleges cited
in a Peters and Rizvi source. Third economic conditions: college tuition and especially residential
life are very expensive. Students survive on scholarships, loans, parent contributions, and their
own work. Virtually everyone has a college job. And, despite these complexities, there is
To move toward a more democratic future for the US requires a cultural marriage, a common
aim of institutions, of societal ‘classes’, of individual families and persons, who currently attend
college at all levels. All who go and have gone to college for social mobility and for social main-
tenance must see a larger world both in the US and elsewhere. The college family must join to
make a better world for all others who for many reasons of inequality do not share their ‘privil-
ege.’Forward from today, gratitude for all who have, indeed, given their health and their lives
for others to survive the current health/ economic crisis is not enough. The aim must be to edu-
cate college students about a shared world, to contribute to viable standards of living from dig-
nified work, universal health care, decent housing, improved transportation, all forms of
infrastructural renewal. This democratic collegiate purpose will not be easily accomplished. That
the present context not be forgotten can be a start.
Digital media, sociality and history
Michael W. Apple
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA
It is crucial to recognize that large scale progressive transformations of education are generated
out of social movements. Thus, given the growing emphasis on digitally mediated education,
questions surrounding ‘What kind of sociality?’Will digital media produce are central to the
larger project of the role of education in social transformation. Can the individuating experiences
that now dominate the uses of digital media in education be interrupted? Can they assist
in the formation of socially transformation movements?
This is all part of a larger question. Can these media be used to revitalize the public sphere?
In asking this, we must not romanticize the public sphere. As Nancy Fraser reminds us, it has
always been a contested site in which certain groups’voices and bodies are privileged.
With that caution in mind, we cannot begin to answer these questions without better
understanding the larger social/ideological context in which education operates. A key concept
here is ‘democracy’. Democracy is a sliding signifier, always contested, always a site of struggle.
But in general, it is being redefined in neoliberal ways: from ‘thick’to ‘thin’, as individual choice
on a market. In the process identities are also being transformed.
Thus, while it is important to recognize that new forms of sociality can emerge from changes
in communicative forms, the social meanings and identities produced under these conditions are
not preordained. This is not a vacuum. We are not the only groups who are working on this ter-
rain. This requires an honest and detailed analysis of the power of current hegemonic alliances,
their strategies, and their own uses of digital media.
While post-structural insights have been very productive, in order to do this we must relearn
how to think structurally about the political economy of higher education. The COVID-19 pan-
demic has created an immense fiscal crisis for universities. This will place increasing pressure on
universities to place economic rationality and economic goals first, with a priority being given to
36 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
what is seen as economically useful knowledge. If past history offers insight, it will also mean
that universities and all of education will increasingly be seen as sites of increased pressure for
the commodification of knowledge and generation of profit as state resources are not made
available. This is the context we are and will be facing.
Yet such structural accounts always risk falling into economic reductionism. There is a long
history of the uses of new technologies enabling the development of enhanced forms of collect-
ive constructions of counter-hegemonic material. We are already seeing this at the level of elem-
entary and secondary schools, where groups of critically democratic teachers have formed
networks of digitally shared practices and critically engaged dialog around curricula, teaching,
and assessment that are expressly aimed at interrupting dominant policies and practices.
Such interruptive practices provide resources and cautions, ones that also have a varied history.
Thus, one of our first tasks in thinking more cogently about these questions should be to critically
examine the historical specificities of previous iterations of these attempts. The Open University in
England would be a good place to start. It was a site for some of the most creative and critically
democratic uses of distance education. The material it produced in sociology, class analysis, cultural
studies, people’s history, gender studies, and critical education are still among the best available. The
combination of mediated teaching and learning, dialogic groups, and teams of critically oriented fac-
ulty working together provided a rich social and intellectual environment.
Yet, the Open University has not consistently maintained a good deal of its critical edge. It
too has been subjected to the rationalizing logics that are so pervasive. What specific structures
and dynamics and their intersections created the conditions for this more neoliberal set of edu-
cational policies and practices? But spaces for counter-hegemonic work and the realities of a
counter-public still remain there. What processes worked to defend these more critical impulses
and practices? What lessons can be learned from this that are relevant for the current social and
ideological conjuncture? These historical insights can be a beginning for us to take the questions
‘sociality’and social transformation seriously.
Universities on their back foot–the Covid 19 interruption (review)
Robert J. Tierney
University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Universities were not protected from the virus, they became pressing candidates for containment
and mediation. Indeed, universities took on a character similar to a triage operation as students
were displaced from campus, courses were placed on hold and a myriad of issues tied to stu-
dent, faculty and institutional needs were problem-solved. Most faculty found themselves having
to make rapid responses campuses needed to close including evacuating classrooms, laborato-
ries, offices and student housing. And, there were no assurances of when or if a return to the
status quo was viable.
Around the world, as the various authors in this collection of think pieces point out, very
quickly, on-line distance education solutions became the band-aid solutions and then the main-
stay for conducting university business and course delivery. Faculty (and students) were flooded
with mandates and guidelines for shifting to operate virtually. Without time to contemplate fully,
regulations were compiled and forms of compliance directed at units and faculty along with
offers of some technical support and professional training. The concerns of faculty seemed over-
ridden by the imposition of and perceived necessity for doing so. Since the majority of courses
at most universities were not on-line and many faculty were unprepared, an expedient default
for on-line sometimes became a search for prepackages digital coursework or replacement of
face to face lectures with the use of ‘zoom’, etc. along with on-line assignments tied to studying
pdf versions of lecture notes presented on the university’s on-line templates.
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 37
The rush to these on-line comprises may be less than desirable. As Mary Kalantzis and Bill
Cope rightly observe, the approach that has been pursued ignores the possibilities of the digital
text and media world within which students already live and has not provided the time for
faculty to create digital learning space that avail themselves their benefits. Quickly displaced has
been the peer culture and supports that students know, the loss of animated face to face
engagements including research spaces, library and studio venues. The post-hoc decision-making
and this form of triage has seemed more remedial than preventative as most universities
scrambled and compromised rather than ensure value-added.
Responses in many universities seem to have exposed a lack of nimbleness and financial
shortfalls. In Canada, the government and many universities are providing some financial support
but are struggling with the transition on a number of fronts ranging from a shortfall in on-line
course to legal issues around affording on-line access across borders. In Singapore there is
recognition of the important role universities play in social and economic development and
significant bridging funding to support students ongoing education and employment needs
despite a recent history that is in need of realignment. In Africa concerns are very high and fear
that major cuts will be made including some university closures.
Perhaps most vexing, universities seem both prepared and unprepared to respond to calls for
the scientific leadership to guide the response to the Covid-19 epidemic. Instead of multi-
perspectival explorations that are transdisciplinary, they seem to default initially to a health
science approach tied to mathematical modeling and a reverence only to traditional randomized
trials as guides. There is a sense of hesitancy to admit to uncertainty and what some refer to
as the abnormal of a new normal. As Gary McCulloch as well as Lauren Misiaszek note there is
a pressing need to accept the ‘mutual accommodation’of humanity with nature and animals
including their parasites. It is as Mark Lilly (2020), has suggested.
The pandemic has brought home just how great a responsibility we bear toward the future, and also how
inadequate our knowledge is for making wise decisions and anticipating consequences. …At some level,
people must be thinking that the more they learn about what is predetermined, the more control they will
have. …A dose of humility would do us good in the present moment. It might also help reconcile us to
the radical uncertainty in which we are always living. Let us retire our prophets and augurs. And let us stop
asking health specialists and public officials for confident projections they are in no position to make –and
stop being disappointed when the ones we force out of them turn out to be wrong.
The pandemic could but does not seem to have offered universities a chance to move from
their back foot to front foot and be places not just for intellectual technicians but for people
of thought trained to think essentially, holistically and in a fashion that is transdisciplinary.
As Marianna Papastephanou has stated: ‘… mobilized in projects to build citizen-capacities
with student and community actors, all collaborating on lifeworld problems that matter’.
Whether we might be able to build these capacities once the crisis is over remains to be seen.
In place of piecemeal reforms that have characterized the current responses to the crisis, more
radical thinking may be more desirable toward the renewal of higher education.
To summarize: This is full of gems. Each piece is somewhat unique in the perspectives,
challenges and possibilities that are explored. They are conversational starters that moves us
away from: (1) old politics based on economics and security, (2) technical science in a state
of uncertainty with models that falter in making predictions unless humanized in an ongoing
fashion, and (3) contemplating different assumptions/tenets and frames for what could be. The
papers are immensely provocative in different ways although spurred by a shared sense of our
worlds and need for new positionality especially related to the role of humanity and community
as they embrace a rethinking of our universities and learning.
38 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
Selected citations represent volume author contributions such as Mary kalantzis and bill cope, gary McCulloch,
marianna papastephanou as well as lauren misiaszek.
Lilly, M. (2020). No one knows what’s going to happen, offered similar sentiments, New York Times. May 22, 2020.
Post-Covid-19: Questioning the new pedagogical possibilities (review)
The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Post-Covid-19. What does the term ‘post-Covid-19’mean, and to what does the prefix ‘post’
refer? ‘Post’does not often mean linear progression. Rather it means a long, messy transform-
ation. For years, we’ve been reading post- scholarship of academic thinkers writing the histories
and futures of educational thought; and in the same vein these excellent pieces portray the
genealogy of the virus. There is no doubt that we are currently living in a precarious time. The
language of ‘new normality’has started to emerge. University life as we know has ceased to
exist. The demise of the academic gossip; no ‘real’structures; no longer vanity projects of Vice-
Chancellors. The lights are turned off, the beating heart of the University as we know it has
slowed down, the virus has taken over. But has it, really?
These collective pieces, this long read –that together work methodologically in line with Peters
et al. (2016) vision for openness and collectivity –is not necessarily a ‘project for the future’,despite
it may seem so on the surface. Readers get a distant feeling that the virus has been, albeit in differ-
ent shapes and forms, already present within our University campuses and spaces. These pieces could
claim that the virus has changed everything, and they do outline possibilities for future encounters
with some distinct, very adventurous genealogy of the problem, in their own right.
In the online teaching and learning space we have already experienced the death of the vitality
and vibrancy of the teacher’sbodyandstudents’laughter; no longer shall a transgression happen
between two students while the professor lectures. International education experts argue on social
media that online learning and digital pedagogies are a ‘new normality’,thatwehaveletthegenie
out of the bottle with online learning, with webinars, with everyone being ‘zoomed in’and ‘zoomed
out’. While the virus has become the mundane, the everyday, so have we all become barricading our-
selves at homes, and not at the universities as the resistance used to.
The University has created these amazing structures, the maze of ideas that we cannot fully
individually comprehend. The thought leadership that traditionally was at the core of our univer-
sities has been transformed into a world of managers and ‘owners’of ‘business processes’.It
seems that it is rare to find a member of the senior leadership at universities who genuinely like
academics or value the depth of the potential, the possibilities and the role of the academe.
Instead, it seems, that that we really do portray and play a game of how to survive rounds of
academic redundancies and restructures.
There is no way a review can do justice to this collective of thinkers and their thought-pieces.
As a fellow thinker, I will return the ideas back, and finish this open review with a selection of
questions, that the authors of this paper have asked of us:
How might we need to rethink and reimagine issues of global interconnectivity and
In what sense is the COVID-19 pandemic ‘new’?
When the initial shock has passed, what can we expect for the future?
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 39
How can a free market contend with the forces set loose by a pandemic that respects no pri-
What lessons do these insights hold for higher education?
The task ahead of us may not be easy, but can we afford to fail again?
What does the future hold?
How can we hold on to the social, so that it finds expression not in the idea of distancing,
but in creative ways of being together?
Could this pandemic be disruptive enough to shift modern education’s embrace of the quest
Could this be revolutionary?
What is the ‘real thing’?
Students don’t really talk to each other anymore, do they?
Will we leave the more ‘prestigious’courses to the highly ranked professoriate dominated
What are some of the structural challenges we face?
How can education provide the tools to critically read neoliberalism?
In what ways can we unbound the imagination and re-envision cosmopolitan possibilities?
What kind of university do we deserve?
What lessons can be learned from this that are relevant for the current social and ideological
What is this asking from us?
Upon re-reading this paper, and the questions, I thought of the universities that these scholars
represent, and I thought of a M
aori proverb: He aha te mea nui o te ao. He t
angata, he t
angata. What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.
Peters, M. A., Jandri
c, P., Irwin, R., Locke, K., Devine, N., Heraud, R., Gibbons, A., Besley, T., White, J., Forster, D.,
Jackson, L., Grierson, E., Mika, C., Stewart, G., Tesar, M., Brighouse, S., Arndt, S., Lazaroiu, G., Mihaila, R., Legg, C.,
& Benade, L. (2016). Towards a philosophy of academic publishing. Educational Philosophy and Theory,48(14),
The crisis of neoliberal university international education
Beijing Normal University, Beijing, PR China
First, I want to comment on the form ofthearticlethatallowswithinthespaceofonearticle
–albeit it a long article of about 25,000 words –to incorporate the comments of thirty-three
world scholars in condensed form as a rapid response to a crisis. There is a clear need for
this kind of article that brings together the expert opinion of scholars in response to an
event like the pandemic. The 500 words are somewhat larger than an abstract but nonethe-
less enough space within which to develop an argument or lay out in schematic form a
response in outline. The form is a form of democratizing the standard article that often takes
too long to write and publish –sometimes over a year or even longer –in order to respond
to events long past. While this form of collective writing is a kind of serialization listing
content the editors can frame the theme, sequence contributions and provide a postscript.
My first response then is a response about the appropriateness and innovation of
the academic form of the article.
Second, a brief comment of the content of the contributions which vary from a direct
response to the question about new pedagogical possibilities for universities post-COVID-19 and
40 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
discussion of the prospects of online education and distance learning to more philosophical or
political accounts. There is a wide variety of responses to the question with those choosing to
take a personal and autobiographical approach to COVID1-19 effects to those who warn against
the dangers of ‘digital reason’(Ron Barnett), see the opportunity for humanization (Peter
McLaren), discuss the gendered nature of online teaching (Rima Apple), or directly address
problems of online teaching and learning (Mary Kalantzis & Bill Cope, Nick Burbules, Liz Jackson).
Others have usefully commented on how big tech companies have engaged with global organi-
zations (Jim Conroy, Gert Biesta), a prescient reminder of how elite universities are teaming up
with Google and Facebook to provide a response to COVID-19 that will dwarf the scale on any
global education programs to date and set up a new raft of truly global neoliberal market
arrangements. Others have talked of ‘border ethics’(Suzanne S. Choo) or the larger connections
of COVID-19 with the environment (Greg Misiaszek). Michael Apple focuses on the need ‘to
recognize that large scale progressive transformations of education are generated out of social
movements’and the notion that ‘new forms of sociality’will only grow out of digital media used
to revitalize the public sphere.
Third, university international education is at a crossroads. The simple fact is that it
cannot operate with closed borders or in an increasingly politicized environment of trade
wars, immuno-wars, and strained US-China relations that will determine the shape of US and
world politics leading into the US elections over the next five months. There cannot be a
return to ‘normal’for the neoliberal approach to international higher education because it’s
essential benefits have been severely compromised with the pandemic rupture. The ‘return’
of Chinese students to the neoliberal western ‘education’economies will now become
a question at the intersection of politics and trade as a new pragmatic approach adopted by
the CCP, as Australia is finding out after its intemperate insistence of an inquiry of the virus
that reflects more of a witch hunt than a genuine open scientific inquiry. Chinese students
that make up a substantial proportion of all international students will increasing only be
permittedtogoto‘friendly’host countries that are not a part of an orchestrated attempt to
scapegoat China and get Trump reelected.
Postscript: Covid-19, higher education, and new possibilities
Fazal Rizvi and Michael A. Peters
Melbourne University, Melbourne, Australia; Beijing Normal University, Beijing, PR China
We began this experiment in collective writing trying to develop in the form of an article that
included a diversity of informed scholarly opinion limited to 500 words. We invited some
twenty-five contributors largely based on our combined international networks. This is a form
of rapid response expert thinking from noted world scholars designed to get in a condensed
form a play of imaginative possibilities. The normal article requires at least twelve months before
it is published from the point of submission. This kind of collective piece is elicited, submitted
and edited within a month with the idea of providing a vehicle for commentary and criticism
to be made on a contemporary event or set of processes as close to their inception and
development as possible.
This article is three times larger than a normal academic article it speaks to a different genre
than the normal academic article. The aim was to draw informed or expert opinion in a way that
attempted a global representation and licensed contributors to indicate how their own research
supports a distinct view of the Coronavirus crisis, how it has affected their scholarly work, how it
has revealed certain underlying issues with higher education, and how it might help us speculate
about future. In this way, this collection of short ‘think pieces’represents a revival of the ‘expert
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 41
circle’in response to a practical question that requires an understanding that is both historical
and sociological but also political and philosophical.
The core question in our invitation for scholarly contributions centered on how institutions
of higher education have managed the crisis in an attempt to continue to do their work, in
this case with a shift to online teaching; what this has revealed about the recent shifts in
the corporatization of higher university; and how we might reimagine the new pedagogical
possibilities for universities post-Covid-19. Of course as we expected the responses to these
questions have varied greatly, both in the form they have taken and in the content of the views
articulated. Almost no attempt has been made to modify the analyses submitted, so that these
we reproduce here a greater degree of spontaneity and authenticity.
A note about the order in which contributions have been arranged here is in order. This
article begins with a series of contributions that describe how higher education has been
affected by the Coronavirus crisis, and what it has revealed about the contradictions of the ways
in which higher education is currently organized, both in relation to configurations of knowledge
and approaches to teaching and learning. Challenged here is the binary between the old
normal and the new normal, with thoughts about how Covid 19 has created an opportunity
to critically interrogate the epistemological and ethical foundations about the presumed normal.
Contributions that follow highlight the challenges that the corporate systems of higher
education had already faced, which now need to reexamined in light of the inadequacies and
contradictions laid bare by the crisis.
The next set of contributions focus on the experiences, limitations and the possibilities of
online pedagogies. The new technologies and the virtual space for teaching and learning has
clearly opened up new options, but these options have severe limitations. They detract attention
away from the importance of face to face dialogue, and those collective modes of learning in
which physical presence is essential. There are dangers also in online education becoming a
cheaper option for universities starved of cash, intent on stretching their spatial reach. However
there are ways in which online education can produce great benefits, but only is they do not
simply duplicate the worst of on-campus teaching. Radically new ways of thinking about online
education are needed, if it is to be pedagogically productive in helping students to become
critically engaged learners.
However, experiments with online education should not only be viewed as tools for making
teaching and learning more efficient. The focus should only be on pedagogic techniques but
also on pedagogic purposes, located within broader speculations about the future of higher edu-
cation. The last group of contributions in this collection point to the crucial importance of reim-
aging the role that universities should play in the formations of a democratic and just society
that addresses the environmental challenges that the world now faces within a context in which
the rise of anti-intellectual and anti-globalization populist movements have become stronger,
with growing confidence to undermine the institutions whose central purpose it is to create
spaces for the production of new knowledge, and with it new ways of thinking about how we
might live together.
In conclusion, lets return to Arundhati Roy’s essay on the pandemic, where she argues that
‘…in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine
we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality’. In this essay,
she uses the opportunity to discuss the poetry in the absence of mobility –‘who could not be
thrilled by the swell of birdsong in cities’–and an uncanny stillness and time for reflection on
the nature of global capital: ‘The virus has moved freely along the pathways of trade and inter-
national capital …But unlike the flow of capital, this virus seeks proliferation, not profit, and
has, therefore, inadvertently, to some extent, reversed the direction of the flow’. She seizes on
the moment to examine the engine of global capitalism as ‘the wreckage of a train that has
been careening down the track for years’.
42 M. A. PETERS ET AL.
Insightfully, Roy argued that the Coronavirus crisis has ‘mocked immigration controls, biomet-
rics, digital surveillance and every other kind of data analytics, and struck hardest –thus far –in
the richest, most powerful nations of the world, bringing the engine of capitalism to a juddering
halt. Temporarily perhaps, but at least long enough for us to examine its parts, make an assess-
ment and decide whether we want to help fix it, or look for a better engine’. The horrific irony
she draws attention to are the health inequalities in the richest country in the world where ‘in
the era of the virus, a poor person’s sickness can affect a wealthy society’s health’. Yet it is also
the case that the front-line first responders are often Afro-American and Latino –often cleaners,
nurses, and supermarket workers –whose populations are disproportionately affected by the
virus because of a health infrastructure tilted toward the middle class that leaves millions
of Americans without any form of medical insurance.
Arundhati Roy, is right also to worry about ‘my country, my poor-rich country, India,
suspended somewhere between feudalism and religious fundamentalism, caste and capitalism,
ruled by far-right Hindu nationalists’and other poorest countries that face a global health emer-
gency that the planet has never experienced before. Coronavirus has laid bare that the world
has within it squalid cities where children live on the waste of others, where there is not running
or clean water, and unhygienic conditions follow from poverty, unemployment and lack of edu-
cation, where in the refugee camps where more than seventy million people live in tents.
Natural disasters have always affected the poor more than the rich because the rich can always
leave, they live in solid houses, they carry personal insurance and can afford medicine.
The observation that the virus does not discriminate is not entirely true –it takes out
the poor, the weak and the elderly first but like all ecological and viral or bacterial pandemics it
has the power to infect everyone, and the virus can be lockdown in one country to infect
and re-infect another. The Coronavirus crisis has demonstrated once again that the world is
interconnected and independent, not only in an empirical manner but also ethically and politic-
ally. While we are right to discuss aspects of online pedagogy and how higher education might
survive the financial crisis, it is equally if not more important to consider the broader issues
about the purposes of education in which nation-centric thinking may produce disastrous
consequences. It is not a matter of what can education do so much as understanding and
instituting new models of sociality and social relations based on collective responsibility and
action, and the ethics of the other.
Beijing Normal University, Beijing, PR China
I. Gathering flowers: anthologizing actions
ἀhokocίa: anthologia:a collection of flowers
Use languages beyond your own.
Return to the sounds you first spoke.
Get attention by using throwing off syntax.
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY 43
All of us are needed
to gather flowers.
Michael A. Peters http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1482-2975
Moon Hong http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8208-8573
Susan Robertson http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6757-8718
Marek Tesar http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7771-2880
Tina Besley http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4377-1257
44 M. A. PETERS ET AL.