4th International Pathways Colloquium

Theorising Pathways Through and To Education and Work

4th International Pathways Colloquium
Monday 3 September, Bolzano, Italy

The 4th International Pathways Collaborative Symposium will be held on Monday 3 September 2018. The Symposium will be held from 14.00-18.00. The key theme for the colloquium will be ‘Theorising pathways through and to education and work’. The purpose of the symposium is to consider the insights different theoretical frameworks provide in helping to understand the nature of pathways, particularly pathways that focus on higher vocational education, including higher technical skills. Our aim is to provide an opportunity for participants to engage with current research and to develop insights for future research and policy.

We invite participation from researchers, policy makers, policy analysts and practitioners to contribute to the discussion about theoretical frameworks that have been useful in existing research to offer critical insights and ways forward. We have identified the following strands as a basis for the colloqium:

Neo-institutional theory

Justin Powell, University of Luxemburg
Volker Wederkind, University of Nottingham

What contribution can neo-institutional theory or new-institutional theory make to our understanding of the nature of educational systems, and the nature of educational institutions? How does this help us understand the ‘degrees of freedom’ within which institutions can act? Why is it important that we consider the nature of institutions and how does this help us understand the relationships between different actors within vocational education and higher education?

Transition systems

Leesa Wheelahan, University of Toronto
Gavin Moodie, University of Toronto

What do we mean by different types of transition systems and how does this help us to consider the way in which institutional structures and arrangements mediate the transition of students (and different types of students) between education and the labour market? What are the different ways of considering transition systems? How does these approaches help us to understand the status of vocational education?

Bourdieu’s theory of practice and the production and reproduction of inequalities

Ann-Marie Bathmaker, University of Birmingham
Erna Nairz-Wirth, Wirtschafts Universität Wien

What are the broad outlines of Bourdieu’s approach and what kinds of insights does it provide to understanding pathways, the way in which different institutions and actors interact, and how this helps to shape the potential for, and students’ experiences of, pathways? Why are particular concepts used by Bourdieu, such as field, habitus, capital and misrecognition fundamental to projects which use his approach? How can these concepts help us move beyond deficit-based approaches which attribute students from disadvantaged backgrounds with the ‘wrong’ sort of cultural and social capital? 

Capabilities approach

Simon McGrath, University of Nottingham
Lesley Powell, University of Nottingham

How can the ‘capabilities approach’ help us to evaluate and think about possibilities for policy, institutions, qualifications and curriculum in higher vocational education? What are the strengths and limitations of the capabilities approach? How does the capabilities approach differ from traditional human capital approaches? How can we move beyond generic approaches that result in empty lists of employability skills and generic skills?

What You Need to Do

We invite you to address one of the above approaches by writing a 200 word summary that addresses these questions:

  • How have you used this theoretical approach to provide an understanding of higher vocational education and pathways through and to education and the labour market?
  • What are the implications for research, and/or policy and practice?
  • Please include in addition to the 200 words, relevant references to your own research that can be shared amongst participants.

Summaries will be grouped to address each of the key theoretical approaches above, and you will be invited to provide a five-minute contribution on your work. There will be no PowerPoint. The purpose of the symposium is to facilitate a discussion, and to provide the opportunity to share ideas and to develop new ideas for future research and for thinking about policy, and for identifying the potential for collaboration.

Please send your summary abstract to: Leesa Wheelahan at leesa.wheelahan@utoronto by 30 May 2018. A draft program will be distributed by the beginning of July 2018.

About the International Pathways Collaborative

The International Pathways Collaborative was formed in 2013 by a group of scholars who research pathways policies and programs in different regions of the world. This 4th international symposium is being hosted as part of the European Conference on Educational Research which will be held at the Free University Bolzano, Piazza Università, in Italy from 4 – 6 September 2017 . Abstracts for the ECER conference close on 31 January 2018. The symposium is also being supported by the Pathways to Education and Work research group, within the Centre for the Study of Canadian and International Higher Education, at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.

Organising Committee

The organising committee for this colloquium is: Ann-Marie Bathmaker from the University of Birmingham, Kevin Orr from the University of Huddersfield, and Gavin Moodie and Leesa Wheelahan from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.