The Role of Universities in Addressing Societal Challenges and Fostering Democracy: Inclusion, Migration, and Education for Citizenship

An international conference will be held on April 2-3 at the University of Akureyri. The event is titled The Role of Universities in Addressing Societal Challenges and Fostering Democracy: Inclusion, Migration, and Education for Citizenship (TRUA-SC-FD). 

The public and democratic role of universities has become an increasingly relevant topic in recent years in light of social, political and economic developments, as well as changes in media and communication. At the same time, democratic societies in Europe are paying increasing attention to the mobilities of individuals within and outside the boundaries of their nation-states. While we observe intensified securitization and the rise of anti-immigration sentiment in Europe, civic movements of resistance also flourish across the continent. With this conference, we aim to steer the discourse towards more constructive and rational discussions on migration and higher education in a healthy democracy.

After the conference, a Ph.D. workshop “Conceptualizing integration: social inclusion and exclusion in diverse and multicultural societies” will take place on April 4, 2020. More information about the workshop can be found here.

The deadline for registration is February 10th, 2020. The regular conference fee is 25.000 ISK (ca. 145 EUR) and the fee for students is 10.000 ISK (ca. 70 EUR). The fee includes lunch and a conference dinner. Details about registration will be available soon.

Call for papers

This event seeks to bring together papers that address conceptual and practical concerns and that develop new critical understandings of the role of universities in fostering democracy and addressing migration and other societal changes; that aim to reach a broader dialogue between university and multicultural society; and that establish discussions on migration and mobilities between diverse communities in academia and the public sector. We therefore welcome papers that open the boundaries of thinking about migration, democracy and the role of universities and include but are not limited to the following themes:

  • Civic responsibility of universities and institutions 
  • Normative conceptions of universities and democracy 
  • Democracy and educational processes at the university 
  • Challenges to the university in contemporary democracies 
  • Universities and neoliberalism 
  • Citizenship and immigration 
  • Universities, knowledge and democracy in a time of rising populism 
  • Integration, adult education and immigrants' acquisition of the host country language
  • Identities and communities
  • Relationships between migrants and their host countries
  • Migration in small states and rural areas
  • Migration and multiculturalism
  • Socio-economic policies
  • Migration and activism
  • Educational practices

The conference is organized within the frame of the following projects: Inclusive Societies? The integration of Immigrants in Iceland, led by Markus Meckl and Unnur Dís Skaptadóttir, Universities and Democracy: A critical analysis of the civic role and function of universities in a democracy, led by Anna Ólafsdóttir and Sigurður Kristinsson, Lingua+: Innovative host-country language learning through socio-cultural inclusion and empathy, led by Zane Brikovska, REMix: The university as an advocate for responsible education about migration in Europe and APELE: Accreditation of prior experiential learning in European Universities, led by Markus Meckl.

Prospective participants are asked to submit an abstract to Iwona Szelewa. A proposal for panel sessions with abstracts of the included papers is also welcome. The deadline for submission is December 15, 2019.
An abstract must not exceed 250 words excluding the following information:

  • Author(s) name(s)
  • Institutional affiliation
  • Email address(es)
  • Paper title
  • Topics of interest (max. 3)

Confirmed keynote speaker(s):

  • Kristín Loftsdóttir, Professor in Anthropology, Faculty of Sociology, Anthropology and Folkloristics, University of Iceland.
  • Thaddeus Metz, Distinguished Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Johannesburg

Call for papers (pdf)

For additional information, please contact Iwona Szelewa