Creating Hope in Dystopia – a sneak peek at the programme

‘Creating Hope in Dystopia’ is the conference for you if you are concerned or even overwhelmed by the increasing social inequalities and divisions we’re all confronted with in day-to-day practice. How can we create hope, not just for the people who are most affected by these challenges, but also for ourselves? And how can we face these seemingly insurmountable issues with a sense of resilience, hopefulness and energy, clearer insights into the complex conditions, and inspirational ideas of how we can contribute to positive change? To help us explore meaningful answers to these questions, we’re bringing together an excellent line-up of keynote presenters:

  • Towards a Planetary Social Pedagogy: Arto Salonen (Professor for Social Pedagogy, University of Eastern Finland) on extending our perspective to encompass the ecosystem that we’re part of (see details).
  • Social Pedagogy and Social Education: Karla Villaseñor (Autonomous University of Puebla) on what we can learn from the current situation in Mexico.
  • Play in an Anxious World: Carrie Lobman (Rutgers University) on the role of creativity and playfulness in thriving amidst uncertainty (see details).
  • Rehumanising Public Service through Human Learning Systems: Toby Lowe (Centre for Public Impact) on the paradigm shift away from New Public Management to create space for social pedagogy (see details).
  • Working with Complexity and Gut Instinct: Lotte Harbo and Charlotte Vange Løvstad (VIA University College Aarhus) on the role of intuition and evidence-based manuals (see details).

Add to that a broad range of interactive workshops, roundtable conversations and presentation sessions, as well as lots of interaction and networking opportunities, and you’ll find yourself in highly stimulating surroundings!

If you know us, you’ll be aware that we want to make a genuine positive difference in the world – we’re a social enterprise for a reason. That’s why many of our learning resources are free and why we try hard to keep any charges for longer learning events as low as we can. As a member of the SPDN, you get $25 off the full conference fee. And until the end of May, you can still receive the early bird rate of just $110 for the full 3-day programme (including all recordings). Best of all, if your organisation won’t be funding your conference fee, you only pay the $65 self-funder rate (that’s just over £45). So there’s every reason to join us!

virtual Social Pedagogy Development Network – 23/06/21

The SPDN is back with a free virtual open space event as part of the international online conference ‘Creating Hope in Dystopia’

We warmly invite you to join our next virtual Social Pedagogy Development Network event on June 23rd, 2021 from 10.00am-12.00pm. The virtual gathering offers a forum for practitioners, students, service managers and academics alike to find out how organisations are developing social pedagogy within their services, to share ideas and to connect with other professionals who have a similar passion for their practice. We hold two free events each year, which aim to increase our collective understandings of social pedagogy in ways that are inspiring, practice-relevant and reflective of social pedagogical principles and values. We aim to stimulate reflection on how you can further develop your practice and thus make an even greater difference to the individuals, groups or communities you engage with.

Thanks to the diversity of participants, the SPDN offers you a real flavour of what social pedagogical practice looks like in children’s homes, fostering services, family support services, communities for adults with disabilities, residential schools and many other settings. For us it’s about enabling a thousand flowers to bloom – so instead of the conformity of monocultures you’ll get a flavour of the rich diversity in which social pedagogy is growing in different practice settings.

The virtual gathering offers an open space for you to talk about what matters most to you with people who share your interest and thus help shape the social pedagogy discourse. If you’re interested in learning a lot more about social pedagogy, then join one of our experiential online courses or register for the international online conference ‘Creating Hope in Dystopia’, which this event is part of.


Creating Hope in Dystopia – join the global dialogue on social pedagogy and social education

Creating Hope in Dystopia – the international online conference co-hosted by the Social Pedagogy Association, ThemPra and UCLan – is drawing nearer. The conference programme is coming together nicely, with a growing range of keynote presentations exploring complexity-informed practice, play and imagination in an anxious world, and how we can expand our social pedagogical perspective to the entire ecosystem.

We would love to have an even greater variety of contributions and hope you’ll be interested in sending us your proposal for interactive workshops, roundtable conversations, formal presentations (live or pre-recorded) or any other contributions (in English or Spanish). We’re interested in contributions that address contemporary challenges from a social pedagogical/educational perspective and chart possible ways forward for practice.

If your work can help illuminate our understanding of social issues and provide inspiration for how we can meaningfully respond to social inequalities, then please send us your proposal by 30th April. (We will accept late submissions subject to remaining availability.)

Just click one of the buttons below to make sure you’re part of the global conversation on social pedagogy and social education.



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We look forward to seeing you at the conference!

MA Social Pedagogy Leadership – now fully online

Earlier this week, Lowis Charfe and I completed our chapter on Social Pedagogy in the forthcoming e-book Human Learning Systems: Public Service for the Real World, due out on June 15, 2021. If you haven’t yet come across Human Learning Systems, then make sure to visit the website here. In writing the chapter, we reflected on just how important ethical and relational leadership is and how social pedagogy can support both existing and aspiring leaders to create the conditions for relationship-centred practice, learning together and improving the systems we work in.

Here’s the great thing: If you’re interested in developing your leadership potential and being an effective changemaker, you can learn about both Human Learning Systems and Social Pedagogy on the MA in Social Pedagogy Leadership. Co-designed and co-delivered by Lowis and her colleagues at the University of Central Lancashire together with us here at ThemPra, it’s grown out of our longstanding collaboration and is very different to other MA programmes in 2 important aspects:
Firstly, we’re using creative and experiential learning methods to stimulate reflection and deeper critical examination of relevant issues from a leadership perspective.
Secondly, we’ve designed both the learning content and the course assignments to connect firmly to your practice, so that the commitment of undertaking a part-time or full-time degree integrates well with your other commitments.

Best of all, in the new era, the course is now running fully online, meaning you don’t need to live near Preston in order to study! It’s still as engaging and interactive as our in-person courses are.

If you’re curious about why this course is transformative, read MA student and Empowerment CEO Mike Crowther’s excellent blog about his journey or his brilliant case study for the above-mentioned Human Learning Systems publication. You can find out more about the MA programme here, on the UCLan website, or simply get in touch with Lowis.

We hope you’ll join us!

International online conference: Creating Hope in Dystopia

For the past year, the Covid-19 pandemic has starkly exposed the huge social inequalities and ruptures threatening to tear apart the social fabric in many countries and across the globe. The onslaught of social media has deepened divisions within societies and is increasingly leading to violent clashes reminiscent of dystopian storylines in film and fiction novels.

Amidst the deteriorating climate catastrophe, rising income inequalities, the resurgence of mainstream populism, and the accelerating replacement of human insight with technological advances through artificial intelligence, staying positive can be a challenge.

Social pedagogy and social education are about providing educational solutions to social issues, so how can we meaningfully respond during such turbulent times? How can we create hope, not just for those most affected by these challenges, but also for ourselves as social pedagogues and social educators? How can we recognise new opportunities amidst issues that seem increasingly insurmountable? It seems crucial that we face these uncertainties with a sense of resilience, hopefulness and energy, clearer insights into the complex conditions, and inspirational ideas of how we can contribute to positive change.

Join us for this important international conference to engage in the kind of dialogue that creates hope in dystopia.

Taking place online via Zoom, the 3-day conference combines live sessions and pre-recorded materials to create an engaging learning environment irrespective of your geographical location. You can contribute in a variety of ways:

  • Live interactive workshops are 60-90 minute sessions with a small group of participants and focused on exploring a specific theme relevant to the conference (see list below). Facilitators must ensure that participants are actively involved throughout the workshop session.

  • Live roundtable conversations are chaired 60-90 minute sessions with a panel of contributors initiating a conversation about a clearly defined theme. As live sessions, they must be designed to elicit contributions from conference participants, giving them a ‘seat around the table’.

  • Pre-recorded presentations are 5-20 minute videos sharing relevant insights from practice, projects or research. The videos will premiere at the conference, with exclusive access available to delegates after the conference too. There will be several opportunities over the 3 conference days to lead informal discussions of these videos or contribute to a live roundtable conversation. Presenters must ensure that high quality recordings are uploaded by 31/05/21 together with a full transcript for closed captioning and translation purposes.

  • Impromptu open space conversations will create opportunities for conference participants to explore emerging themes with others in ways that aren’t scripted or predetermined.

  • Meet-ups in the virtual gardens will provide informal spaces for networking throughout the conference, which can be used to continue conversations arising from conference contributions, reconnecting with other delegates or forming new alliances with like-minded participants.

Submit Your Proposal

We’re interested in contributions that address contemporary challenges from a social pedagogical/educational perspective and chart possible ways forward for practice. If your work can help illuminate our understanding of social issues and provide inspiration for how we can meaningfully respond to social inequalities, then please send us your proposal, clearly outlining how it reflects the conference theme.

Proposals should be submitted via the conference proposal Google form and are due no later than March 15, 2021. Accepted proposals will be notified via email by May 1, 2021.

Questions or concerns should be sent to: with the subject heading: Here and Now Online Conference 2021/Inquiry.

Conference Proceedings:

Presenters who would like to submit a paper for a post-conference publication after receiving feedback on their conference presentations will have until 1 August, 2021 (one month and a week after the end of the conference). Papers should not exceed 3,500 words (excluding references). This is optional and is not a requirement to present at the conference.