posting by: Madeleine Abrandt Dahlgren & Nick Hopwood
ProPEL finds a new platform for international engagement
As the ProPEL network matures, its international nature is to find new expression: the third ProPEL conference will be held in Sweden, with plans for a fourth in Australia. While the network and the conference have their origin and home in the School of Education at Stirling University, both have always had a strong international flavour. Since 2012, over 300 delegates from two dozen countries have attended the first two ProPEL conferences in Stirling (2012 and 2014).
While diversity among delegates is not in itself unusual, the ProPEL conferences were distinctive and special because of the platform they created for particular kinds of dialogue: across disciplines, across professions, and between academic and the world of professional practice. Even though different approaches were presented, participants shared a commitment to advancing knowledge and enhancing understanding of the complexities of professional practice, education and learning. We did not shy away from difficult questions or seek tidy solutions that failed to engage with the dynamic, multi-faceted realities of practice.
The idea of acknowledging and extending the international nature of the research network by engaging the network members in a shared responsiiblity for the conference was launched at the 2014 ProPEL conference. The practice of locating the conference in different institutions, with each organising team involving a multi-national collaboration, is now a reality.
Two institutions a world apart, but closely linked in collaborative research on professional learning and work, Linköping University in Sweden (LiU) and University of Technology Sydney (UTS) formed a conference committee with the intention of hosting the next two ProPEL gatherings, with LiU leading the way in 2017. The conference committee consists of Madeleine Abrandt Dahlgren, Maria Gustavsson and Andreas Fejes at LiU and Nick Hopwood and Ann Reich at UTS.
Addressing practice problems of our age with cutting-edge ideas
Previous ProPEL conferences focused on identifying approaches to research that are most helpful in revealing fresh insights about professional work, education and learning that respond to contemporary practice problems, while drawing on recent developments in scholarly work. In particular, the 2012 meeting focused on the idea of professional knowledge and strategies emerging in practices, connecting to a notion of ’troubling times’ for professionals and professions. In 2014 we explored the material or virtual ‘matters’ of practitioners’ learning. In doing so we questioned distinctions that are often taken for granted (such as real vs virtual, social vs material), and pushed the boundaries of where theories can take us. Prominent in these discussions were perspectives such as actor-network theory, complexity theory, concepts from science and technology studies, activity theory and ‘new materialisms’.
The 3rd ProPEL Conference 2017 welcomes research that applies contemporary practice oriented, sociomaterial theories and innovative research methodologies. We want to explore how these help critically explore the emergent nature of professional knowing and the systems of professional work focusing on issues related to work practices, knowing, organising, professions and professional education. This year we particularly encourage papers that explore the role of, and relations between, education and learning in meeting contemporary complexities and challenges in professional practice.
The themes of the 2017 conference are as follows. We will explore these themes in a series of blog posts leading up to the conference. If you are interested in contributing a blog posting on any of these themes then please contact Terrie Lynn Thompson, editor of the ProPEL Matters blog (University of Stirling) or Professor Madeleine Abrandt Dahlgren (Linköping University).
- Changing complexities in work practices and challenges for professionalisms
- Formal vocational /higher education and professional knowing
- Emerging professional groups, knowledges, and arrangements of work
- Digital technologies and changing practices
- New media and professional learning
- Challenges in interprofessional practice and learning
- Leading and organising professional learning
- Diversity and inclusion in professional/vocational practice
- Projects and partnership work in professional and vocational learning
- Mobile professionals and migrating knowledges
- Assessing professional learning
- Reconceptualising continuing professional development