Crafting Gentleness

Monday, March 19, 2007

Non-aligned initiatives in education

Call for Summit: Non-aligned initiatives in education
Berlin, May 24-28 2007

The debates around education are shifting. In Europe, questions of coordinated systems with comparable outcomes seem to dominate the concerned discussion around the forthcoming "Bologna" accord. While much critical opposition focuses on the loss of local traditions and fears of global homogenization -- both sets of responses serve only to fetishize knowledge within a commodity economy of education.

In actuality numerous non-aligned initiatives are converging around "education", recognizing that it is equally a platform for cultural actualisation and self organization. Within self organised educational forums that range from free academies, to exhibitions as educational modes to ad-hoc initiatives within social, political and economic organisations, it is becoming clear that beyond knowledge transfer, education is one of our most important tools for the transformation of subjects towards a participatory mode. Equally many initiatives to articulate contemporary subjects and forge new methods, to see education as itself a creative cultural practice, are taking place within established and recognised institutions of higher learning. While these two efforts might be perceived as separate due to their institutional and structural status, they share a desire to reclaim education for present needs.

The crisis in education offers us potential modes of critical engagement: drawing on activist practices and processes of participation which circulate in the wider culture, it allows us to claim the power to shape and define the terms of the debate. It is clear from the many exhibition, art practice and research projects which have recently converged on the notion of 'education', that there is much potential for seeing it as far more than the transmission of knowledge within dedicated institutions.

SUMMIT is a proposal to change the terms of the debate away from a purely bureaucratic engagement with quantitative and administrative demands and from the ongoing tendency to privatize knowledge as so-called "intellectual property". Instead of concerns with its purely organisational dimensions we would hope to steer it towards some of the important questions faced by our cultures today.


How does migration affect canonised knowledge? Can we conceive of anon-linear projection of learning? Whom do notions of fluidity andprecarity serve? How do emergent subjectivities, produced out ofcurrent mobilities, produce newly situate knowledges?


What are the gestures of "un"-organizing education? If to define wasto own, where do we encounter emergent possibilities of mutuality andcollaboration within education? How can we envision new configurationsof multiple ownership of knowledge? Is self-organization a mode ofeducation beyond the patterns of identification?


The model of education has become central to a range of creativeartistic practices and to a renewed interest in radical pedagogy. As amode of thinking an alternative to the immense dominance of art ascommodity and display as spectacle, education as a creative practicethat involves process, experimentation, fallibility and potentialityby definition, offers a non-conflictual model for a rethinking of thecultural field.


There are principles within learning and teaching that extend farbeyond the years spent within the institutions of education. Whatmodels are emerging for an understanding of both an expanded durationof education as well as for our need to redefine what needs to be knowwithin a contemporary civic landscape?We call on all those interested and engaged in the debates aroundeducation to come forth and unalign.

SUMMIT offers the following formats:
- A public program with "keynote-lectures" by prominent thinkers,"curated conversations" between actors in the field, and 'history lessons' which locate previous moments of radical aspirations or transformations in the field.
- Working groups, caucuses and concept labs: A series of meetings andsessions on burning questions of education
- Open space: Forum for initiating proposals, highlighting practicesand making theory urgent
- Collaborative drafting of a declaration

DATES: May 24 to 28, 2007

Hebbel Am Ufer (HAU 1), Stresemannstr. 29, 10963 Berlinunitednationsplaza, Platz der Vereinten Nationen 14a, 10249 Berlinbootlab, Tucholskystrasse 6, 10117 Berlin


Kodwo Eshun, Susanne Lang, Irit Rogoff, Florian Schneider, Nicolas Siepen, Nora Sternfeld

SUMMMIT is organized by Multitude e.V., in collaboration withGoldsmiths College, London University and Witte de With, Rotterdam.

SUMMIT is supported by the Federal Culture Foundation, Germany.


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