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Social Policy, Risk, and Education

This special issue of the journal Policy Futures in Education ( takes the broad lens of risk as its point of departure and invites empirical and theoretical papers which focus on the ways in which risk is enacted through and within education. Risk has become a central discourse – a cultural mindset – in modern societies which frames identities and organizes the governance of individuals and populations. The neoliberal, deregulated state, which emphasizes market-based solutions to the distribution of social goods, has collapsed economic and social policy: the paramount reality is competition and risk. Risk in multifarious settings now dominates social, political and economic discourse.

In a world where uncertainty and harm are governed through risk assessment and risk management, it is no surprise that educational policy similarly aligns loss, injury, and disadvantage with educational management strategies. American education, largely associated with formal schooling, has long embraced the concept of risk (e.g. ‘at-risk children’ and ‘a nation at risk’) as the basis for securing the nation’s economic future competitiveness. Public program initiatives such as Head Start are fashioned upon the perception of a perilous future, and attempt to assess and manage negative risks to children and society, as do the policies of many private intervention programs. Similarly, school-age children, from kindergarten through high school, are systematically identified as ‘at risk’ and targeted for academic and social intervention. While the US Department of Education’s ‘A Nation At Risk’ predated Beck’s risk society, the ‘at risk’ child can only be imagined within a risk society. Conversely, both official and unofficial educational sites are also governed by risk, but individual identities are frequently portrayed as ‘risk takers’. Here, risk is aligned with well-being and the enterprising self. Learning to skydive or rock climb, taking a challenging class, ‘having a go’ at spelling a new word, or returning to college to transition a career indicates a life worth living.

The purpose of this themed issue is to bring together international and critical perspectives on risk theory and education in both formal and informal settings.

All papers submitted will be evaluated using the journal’s normal peer review process.

Please also see the journal’s information for authors:

Publication for the special issue is planned for 2013. Deadline for submissions is August 1, 2013. Papers should be sent as an email attachment to the Guest Editor, Policy Futures in Education, Professor Steve Bialostok, College of Education, University of Wyoming:



Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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Dear Colleague,

This year’s Annual Lecture of the Queen Mary Centre for the Study of Global Security and Development will be given by Professor Mark Duffield of the University of Bristol. The title of the lecture is ‘Liberal Interventionism and the Crisis of Acceptance: From Protection to Resilience’  and it will take place on May 19, 2011, 6.30pm in Drapers Lecture Theatre(Geography Building), QM Mile End Campus.

Compared to the optimism of the early post-Cold War era, the international aid industry – and with it, the development-security nexus – faces a growing crisis of acceptance. This malaise is reflected in the increasing necessity of constant risk-management within contemporary aid interventions. Since the end of the 1990s, the number of aid workers deliberately killed, injured, or attacked has grown steadily. Incorporated as an extension of Western foreign policy, including playing social advisor to corporate interests in an age of neoliberal excess, for many ‘beneficiaries’ the aid industry’s earlier claims to neutrality and material betterment now count for little. This lecture traces the liberal way of development’s growing crisis of acceptance through its changing approach to risk-management.

From initial attempts to centralise and professionalise risk-aversion, the main outcome of which was the fortified aid compound, the emphasis has now shifted to increasing the resilience of the aid industry. Rather than ‘when to leave’ the aim is now ‘how to stay’. Through the decentralisation, localisation and indigenisation of risk-management, resilience establishes a new and productive relationship to crisis. That is, an opportunity to improve the robustness and fitness of aid agencies. In effectively ignoring the crisis of acceptance, however, rather than addressing the current malaise, resilience promises to dig the bunker deeper.

To book a place go to:  

Rick Saull
Dr Richard Saull,
Senior Lecturer in International Politics,
School of Politics and International Relations
Queen Mary, University of London
Mile End Road
E1 4NS
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8597

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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