Re-Invoking Global Dialogues on Learning, Un-Learning, and Study

deadline for submissions: 
February 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Studies in Philosophy and Education
contact email: 

Current neoliberal education on a global scale is dominated by the logic of learning. Specifically, learning is framed as the process of acquiring the OECD/USA-endorsed indispensable skills, competencies, or literacies as the desirable prerequisite for students to succeed in the 21st century. As an effect, education is further collapsed into socialization and qualification (Biesta, 2006), staked primarily on making students into subjects who can fit into the pre-existing order of things. Many constructivist, progressivist, and critical educational theories are subsumed into this neoliberal learning economy, henceforth depriving students of encountering educational events, encounters, or opportunities to be themselves as human beings and be otherwise.

To push against this predominant learning logic, interest in Western educational philosophy and theory has shifted from theorizing learning to alternative, less instrumental forms of educational experience, including variants of study. For example, Tyson Lewis (2013, 2018) proffers a theorization of study and inoperative learning, elaborating on Giorgio Agamben’s theory of potentiality. Derek Ford (2016) politicizes the educational philosophy of study into a communist study, forging a collective solidarity to simultaneously detach from and confront the capitalism and democracy as an essentialized identity. Weili Zhao (2018) moves to internationalize the theorization of study, envisioning a Daoist form of study and pushing learning and study further into a bipolar yin-yang movement. Joris Vliegh (2016) conceptualizes embodied practicing as an offshoot of studying. Florelle D’Hoste (2017) theorizes apprenticing as another educational logic outside of learning.

Provoked by these intellectual efforts, this special issue invites colleagues from all over the world to contribute to a global dialogue on re-articulating the possible forms of learning, un-learning, studying, and other educational relations and forms embedded within varying cultural and philosophical sensibilities and irreducible to the neoliberal learning economy. This “epistemic” call is significant in two ways. First, it acknowledges the ontological equality of all other cultural forms of knowledge, learning, and being, not subordinate to the mainstream Western epistemology, thus further supporting a move toward cognitive justice. Second, it foregrounds the so-far largely neglected fact that the hegemonic nature of neoliberal learning logics is an expression of modernity is not only an effect of economic inequity but also implicated within an ideological and epistemological terrain of culture and politics (e.g., Paraskeva, 2016).

In this light, this special issue for the journal Studies in Philosophy and Education seizes on points of convergence and/or divergence among the varying cultural-epistemic forms, meanings, and beings of learning, unlearning, and studying on a global landscape and without prioritizing one over another. Nevertheless, we hope the cross/inter-epistemic dialogues are not merely some ahistorical and rhizomatic juxtaposition and connection of ‘ideas’ uprooted from their grounding onto-epistemologies, cosmologies and worldviews. Instead, the papers are expected to take a historical approach, ethnographically and/or theoretically relating cultural-historical-philosophical wisdoms back to their respective onto-epistemological roots. While an idealistic juxtaposition does problematize some taken-for-granted notions of presence, time, space, language, meaning, and identity that ground our thinking of learning and study, such ‘ideal’ hybridizations often ethically confound researchers, practitioners, and policymakers.

Henceforth, a healthier intellectual interconnection calls for a historical and contextualized re-mapping of the distinct cultural-philosophical wisdoms, rendering visible possible onto-epistemological convergences as well as clashes in, among others, worldviews, cosmologies, languages, vision, spatio-temporalities, place, meaning, power, and rituals that shape our understandings of education, learning, un-learning, studying, knowledge, and being. Besides, we hope each paper will elaborate on the implications a juxtaposition of the varying epistemic schools of thought might have for shedding new light on educational reconceptualization and praxis for the 21st century.

Submission instructions

Please send a 500-word abstract as an expression of interest with name, title and email address to the three guest editors by February 15, 2019. Full paper (6000 words including references and abstract) submission is due by June 30, 2019.


Weili Zhao, The Chinese University of Hong Kong,

Derek R. Ford, Depauw University,

Tyson E. Lewis, University of North Texas,



Biesta, G. J. J. (2006). Beyond learning: Democratic education for a human future. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.

D’Hoste, F. (2017) Apprenticeship under study: Toward an educational dimension of apprenticeship. In C. Ruitenberg (Ed.), Reconceptualizing Study in Educational Discourse and Practice. New York: Routledge.  

Ford, D. R. (2016). Communist study: Education for the commons. Lanham: Lexington Books.

Lewis, T. (2013). On study: Giorgio Agamben and educational potentiality. New York: Routledge.

Lewis, T. (2018). Inoperative learning: A radical rethinking of educational potentiality. New York: Routledge.

Paraskeva, J. M.  (2016). Curriculum Epistemicide: Towards an Itinerant Curriculum Theory. London: Routledge.

 Vleighe, J. (2016) The educational meaning of tiredness: Agamben and Buytendijk on the

experience of (im)potentiality. Ethics & Education 11 (3), 359-371.

Zhao, W. (2018). China’s Education, Curriculum Knowledge and Cultural Inscriptions: Dancing with The Wind. New York: Routledge.