The issues discussed will range from the Higher Education institution and potential student as imagined by outreach and access programmes, to the imagined career futures of current Higher Education students, as well as methodological approaches to the study of futures. The seminar(s) will explore the ways in which educational futures are constructed across policy documentation and in the experiences of diverse groups of practitioners and students in the Further Education and Higher Education sectors. Seeing the future as integral to the present practices of educational institutions and people, the seminar(s) will focus on the ways in which social inequalities of the present work to constitute inequalities in the imagined futures of Further and Higher Education.
The researchers brought together by this seminar(s) are united by their conceptualisation of education as a complex temporal undertaking, that combines the lived present with the imagined future, always informed by past experience. Although time is often represented as a linear movement from past, through present and into future, recent research using the concept of the ‘possible self’ in education demonstrates the importance of looking at time in new ways. First published thirty years ago, Markus and Nurius’ paper introduced the concept of the ‘possible self’ into the field of cognitive psychology in the US. In the years since the publication of that paper, the concept has been taken up in the form of research in educational psychology, along with research-informed interventions in educational settings from schools to young offenders’ institutions and university campuses. The potential of the ‘possible selves’ approach stems from its understanding of the imagined or feared future self as having an impact on present behaviour. Here, rather than being seen as separated in a linear temporal relationship, present and future are understood as intertwined and inseparable. As a result, much of the ‘possible selves’ research in educational contexts has explored the relationship between imagined future achievement (or barriers to achievement) and present motivations to study. The origins of the concept in psychological research literature mean that work is needed to employ its terminology in sociological approaches to education. This seminar/seminar series looks to do just that work; the seminar(s) shows current uses of the possible selves concept by doctoral researchers and academics in UK Higher Education research. In particular, the seminar(s) focuses on how a sociological adaptation of the ‘possible selves’ idea allows for the interrogation of socially constructed subjectivities and inequalities. In the context of market-driven, temporally complex priorities of employability and research funding bids, the role of the future in conceptualising the present of UK Higher Education is more relevant and more important than ever. This seminar(s) offers an exploration of ‘possible selves’ as a way of understanding and researching temporal subjects in Higher Education.
Ann-Marie Bathmaker (Convenor Post-Compulsory and Higher Education network)
Jacqueline Stevenson (Convenor Access and Widening Participation network)
Holly Henderson (PGR, ESRC scholarship holder, SRHE member)
Ann-Marie Bathmaker, University of Birmingham (Convenor and chair)
Jacqueline Stevenson, Sheffield Hallam University
Holly Henderson, University of Birmingham
Maggie Kubanyiova, University of Birmingham
Angela Murphy, Leeds Beckett University
A follow-up seminar is proposed for autumn 2016, to be discussed and agreed at seminar 1 in June 2016.
A publishing output from the seminars will be discussed (the proposed output would take the form of an edited book for the SRHE series).