Education Focus Neoliberalism

Focus Seminar: Welcome to the Neoliberal University. Register now!

From March to June, every other Tuesday, we will be hosting a seminar series related to our new FOCUS: The Neoliberal University and its Students. We would be happy to have you participating in it!

Learning is not only about reading and experiencing the world alone. It is about discussing and critically questioning. This happens first and foremost in mutual exchange and inspiration. As a critical students’ community, we want to make space where we can investigate and discuss topics that affect us all, across university and national borders. This is the purpose of our new seminar series, in which we will jointly study various texts, exchange knowledge and perspectives, and develop critical global understandings of the fundamentals in each FOCUS theme.

Seminar program

In the seminar we will have a look at our current Focus on the topic of The Neoliberal University and its Students. As a foundation, we will deal with the history and origins of neoliberalism, having a look at its theoretical foundations and roots. Subsequently and starting from the macro-level, we will focus on the development and spread of neoliberalism and take a view at various phenomena that illustrate the process of neoliberalization. Finally, on the basis of this knowledge, we will move from the macro perspective to the micro level – the neoliberalization of the university and higher education, which is the center of our current Focus. The guiding questions from our current call will be attempted to be addressed here. 

1. What is neoliberalism? How did it come about and developed into a global hegemonic social order; and what is the neoliberalization of university and students?
2. What are the relationships between education, social and global inequality, (neo-)colonialism and capitalist production?
3. Can the role of students be reduced to being “future employees” and “taxpayers”, or doesn’t it go far beyond that? What socio-political responsibilities do we bear as students?
4. The past and the present showed the importance of students and student movements for central social developments: What experiences can we draw from student-led social and political changes?

Themes, topics and dates

Theme #1. Understanding neoliberalism
An overall introduction to the (global) histories and fundamental theoretical bases of neoliberalism.

Session 1 09.03.2021

Session 2 23.03.2021

Session 3 06.04.2021

Introductory meeting: History and roots of neoliberalism

Movie and discussion: This is Neoliberalism – Introducing the invisible ideology
Neoliberalism and its impacts

Theme #2. Neoliberalism today
Neoliberalization extends far beyond economic phenomena and entails profound social and cultural changes. We want to look at this with the help of two specific examples.

Session 4 20.04.2021
Session 5 04.05.2021

(Bio)Politics and the neoliberal order: The case of AIDS
Reclaiming Feminism: gender and neoliberalism

Theme #3. Neoliberalism and higher education
The neoliberalization of education, especially in the context of the university, will be specifically examined and problematized. How has neoliberalization changed the visions and purposes of education?

Session 6 18.05.2021
Session 7 01.06.2021

The Global construction of higher education reform
Globalization and the neoliberal imaginary

Theme #4. Neoliberalism and students
Who is a neoliberal student? What are the aims of studying? We will have a particular focus on the students role in society and the sociopolitical perspective.

Session 8 15.06.2021
Session 9 29.06.2021

The Psychosocial Life of the Neoliberal University
Reflecting on the commodified student under knowledge capitalism

Theme #5. The Critical University
What comes after? In this session we will discuss the possibilities of transgressing the Neoliberal University while examining the concept of the Critical University.

Session 10 06.07.2021

Historical investigation and discussions around the concept of the Critical University

Before seminar: As preparation for the sessions, everyone should read a selected short text.

During seminar: A guest moderator will first give a brief introduction into the prepared text and topic. Then we will use several leading questions to deepen the conversations. The seminar gives room for all kinds of other questions and knowledges that you would like to discuss and share with one another.

After seminar: There is, if desired, the possibility to write an essay on one of these as well as other topics, which can then be reviewed by our team of editors and subsequently published in our magazine.

Format and time

The seminar is primarily designed to be interactive, dialogical, and participatory. It cannot be understood as a mere course in the sense of a lecture. We want to engage the topics together in an open discussion, and grounded by carefully selected, short texts. The seminar will be held online.

As a guideline, the seminar will be divided into give main themes, ten sessions. The first session will start on Tuesday, March 9th, and continues every other week until Tuesday, July 6th.

The Seminar will be held online at 15:00 UCT time. Each session is scheduled to last two hours. Here are the specific geographical time zones:

7:00 – San Fransisco
10:00 – Bogota
12:00 – Sao Paulo
15:00 – London
16:00 – Berlin
17:00 – Cape Town
19:30 – Kabul
20:30 – Delhi
22:00 – Ho Chi Minh
23:00 – Beijing
00:00 – Tokyo

How to register

You only have to register for the first meeting on the 9th of March! You are then automatically registered for all the following sessions. Registration is open until 08th of March.

The individual sessions build on each other thematically. In this respect, it would be desirable if you only register if you intend to attend all seminars. If you don’t have time for some of the sessions, that of course is no problem.

And, if in any case you can not continue joining the seminars, please send us an email so that we could give the registration place to other people.

After the registration, you will receive more concrete information regarding the literature and meeting links.

Would you like work with us even more?

You are also invited to collaborate with us in content production for the FOCUS: be it writing, making a podcast, organizing a seminar, conducting research, translating works, doing interviews, or any other creative ways of making knowledge. We welcome contributors from countries across Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. Write to us at to find out more about how we can collaborate, or for any further questions or concerns.

Seminar Project Team: Adrian Lind, Chris Matthews, Kevin-Leon Kerk, Lisa Trebs, Shreya Urvashi, Thea Pan, Tom Stonestreet
Cover picture credit: Rosan Quattrocchi

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