“FuturEducation” – an Overview of the Lecture Series in Autumn 2021

As the “FuturEducation: Future Trajectories of Education and the Emergence of Precision Education Governance” lecture series came to an end last week, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the past autumn we have spent with several brilliant lecturers and lecture participants from all over the world. A special thank you to all the scholars who dedicated their time to making FuturEducation possible. Also, a warm thank you to everyone who has shown interest in the important topic of changing education governance and participated in the lectures. The lecture series has formed into a wonderful, interactive community that has shown a demand for these kinds of critical discussion starters.

FuturEducation was an open, international, online lecture series initiated by the Education and Society -research community at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, the University of Helsinki. The lecture series was chaired by professors Kristiina Brunila (AGORA) and Janne Varjo (KUPOLI) during the fall semester 2021. By utilising, applying, and further developing the concept of precision education governance (PEG), developed in the Education & Society –research community and in its on-going Interrupting Future Trajectories of the Precision Education Governance –research project at the University of Helsinki, the lecture series offered a look into the future education governance and policies by scrutinising some of the key changes and outcomes in education through three interlinked lines of research:

  • The strengthening of global and local governance of education
  • The marketisation, privatisation, digitalisation and datafication of education
  • Replacing educational science research knowledge with behavioural and life sciences

The lecture series consisted of four lectures and a panel discussion with eminent and internationally recognised speakers, addressing the themes of the lecture series from interdisciplinary perspectives.

The first lecture in September provoked a lot of insightful conversation, as Professor Malin Ideland from Malmö University shed light on the seemingly bright side of neoliberalism by addressing the marketisation and neoliberalisation of the education sector and the affective reasoning and motives behind edupreneurs engagement with the education business. The vivid discussions continued in October when Professor Sam Sellar from the University of South Australia examined how a new synthetic form of governance is emerging with the datafication and digitalisation of education, sparking critical questions about how these systems shape our thinking and the conditions for thought more generally. With the third lecture, we moved from datafication to the consequences of the contemporary, excessive amounts of data. In November, Professor Gita Steiner-Khamsi from Columbia University, New York and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, scrutinised how the surplus of data has impacted global governance and policymaking, inciting conversation of how the knowledge-based regulation has and will affect global education governance.

In December, we had two brilliant FuturEducation sessions. First, we had the fourth lecture, which led us to critical reflections of the future trajectories of education, as Professor Deborah Youdell from the University of Birmingham, UK, examined how the turn to cognitive science and neuroscience in education policymaking is reframing learning and school education. Then, we had the final session of the lecture series, a closing panel discussion titled Future of Education – to whom and for what?”. The panel included four insightful scholars from Finnish universities: Dr. Helena Hinke Dobrochinski Candido, Dr. Petteri Hansen, and Dr. Katariina Mertanen from the University of Helsinki and Dr. Antti Saari from Tampere University. The panel focused on future trajectories of education in Finland, drawing from the concurrent discourses shaping education and addressing the past and possible futures of the Finnish education system. The panel was an excellent ending to the lecture series, summarising the themes and objectives of FuturEducation in an observant, multiperspective way.

The lectures were open for everyone interested in deepening their knowledge about future trajectories of education and understanding some of the most crucial questions of changing education governance and policies, holding historically significant consequences for education and society. We were glad to see the lectures attracted different stakeholders in education worldwide and provoked a lot of insightful discussion and critical reflection towards the future of education policy and governance and the concurrent changes already shaping education.

The objective of the lecture series was to provide a conceptual and more comprehensive understanding of future education governance. Therefore, we were pleased that the interdisciplinary approaches to FuturEducation’s themes throughout the lecture series received a lot of positive feedback and acted as essential conversation starters from different perspectives on education. The lectures outlined the importance of multifaceted, cooperative solutions to problematising the changing education governance and hopefully initiated future collaborations. The lecture series’ reception indicated a need to address these topics further and discuss the future of education together, demonstrating a global interest to identify and critically examine changing education governance and its’ significant consequences for education and society. We hope this important work will continue in the near future, with opportunities to form even closer collaborations with scholars and education stakeholders worldwide.


On behalf of the FuturEducation project,

Inka Tähkä

Project Coordinator