1st Liberal Education Student Conference

May 12-15 in Lüneburg there will be a feast of European Liberal Education. After a conference in Amsterdam, when scholars dedicated to the idea of core texts have an opportunity to create an international debate, this time undergraduate researchers from liberal education institutions would have an opportunity to discuss the very premises of this mode of study.

The organizing team, which means students from Leuphana University Studium Individuale and University College Freiburg, attracted applicants from several European countries, as well as Hans Adriaansens, Teun Dekker and Nigel Tubbs from among the leaders of European liberal education. The conference would include both paper presentations – I read all 29 of them, and they are really strong and interesting – as well as more practical workshops on the idea and the future of liberal education in our continent. I was invited to give a keynote speech in which I will share some of my findings on the diversity hidden behind a common name, as well as propose six challenges that almost a hundred participants will work on over next three days.

This is the first instance of a totally grassroots initiative, that fairly quickly attracted a lot of attention not only in Germany and the Netherlands, but also in Russia, Latvia, Denmark and the UK. It builds on the experiences of national events, but both the scale and the potential impact are incomparable. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung publisher, Jürgen Kaube, will join us in this uneasy conversation, as well as Katharina Dermühl from Kiron University. A publication based on the papers seems very likely. But most importantly, we might be at the verge of creating an association that would join liberal educators on continent, both generating much needed support and coordination on a daily basis, and generating a solid basis for research-based reforms.

I am extremely excited about the next four days, which is ample time to have some real discussion and get to know other participants. The generational change in European liberal education is getting real.

Faculty hiring: our paper has just been published

An important report has just been published: watchdog.edu.pl #5 on faculty hiring policies (vs. realities) in Poland. Numerous dedicated young researchers have contributed to a volume that might stir up the debate regarding non-transparent, non-open, non-merit-based faculty hiring that haunts too many Polish higher education, to the detriment of their scientific productivity, student learning and international reputation.

I was delighted to be invited to prepare an important part on good practices from other countries. Three brilliant young researchers – Madelaine Leitsberger, Aleksandra Swatek and David Kretz – agreed to join me in this uneasy pursuit. Together we prepared quite long analysis touching upon Norway, Austria the UK, the US. It is my sincere hope that this would be not only interesting, but also inspiring and useful read for some Polish researchers and practitioners.

This was an important paper both because it touches on important issue – showing possible pathways out of an open and dirty secret of Polish academia – and even more importantly, because it is my first collaboration. Teamwork is different, difficult at times, but it is also much more efficient and it allows for better insights. Working with Madelaine, Aleksandra and David was a pleasure, and I look forward to do more of this in the future.

Sadly, there was no space to do that in print, but I would like to especially thank Philipp Friedrich from University of Oslo and Georgiana Mihut from Boston College, for their help and suggestions during the preparation of the paper.

Kontowski, D., Kretz, D., Leitsberger, M., Swatek Aleksandra M., Dobre praktyki w obsadzaniu stanowiska akademickich na zagranicznych uczelniach [Good practices in faculty hiring: international insights] [in:] R. Pawłowski & D. Rafalska, (eds.) Otwarte i uczciwe konkursy na stanowiska nauczycieli akademickich – reguła czy wyjątek? [“Watchdog.edu.pl” #5]. ISBN 978-83-931991-9-8. Fundusz Pomocy Studentom, Warszawa 2016, pp. 63-97.

The whole report can be accessed here.