This page gives some background information to the Education for the Crisis initiative as of the beginning of 2012.


We are witnessing a series of distinctive ruptures that will have significant implications for the experience of living in the 21st Century. These ruptures are becoming visible in the fallout from the banking and sovereign debt crises, in the growing costs of rising energy prices and adaptation to extreme weather, in the failure of current institutions to respond to changing technological and scientific capabilities and responsibilities, and in the debates over allocation of public resources across generations. For the sake of debate, we propose that the critical challenges we face are:
  • Economic Crisis (in particular, the long term radical increases in economic inequality within nations, polarization of employment and decline in growth and the implications of sovereign debt defaults, banking failures)
  • Resource Crisis (in particular, mineral and energy constraints; population growth and implications for agriculture, infrastructure and transport)
  • Environmental Crisis (in particular, the implications of declining land viability for migration patterns, refugee rights and the nation state)
  • Socio-technical disruptions (in particular, the reliance on non-human like intelligence, the dependence on large scale systems of systems in finance, logistics, healthcare; the capacity for bio-engineering and radical longevity; and the development of a data-rich culture)
  • Accountability Crises (in particular, the failure of traditional representative democracy systems in the context of global markets, emergence of new private sector actors in public services, growth of new participatory democracy movements)
  • Dehumanisation Crisis? (this is about the production of fear between people, the replacement of human flourishing with consumption, the replacement of the idea of the person with the idea of the system, the replacement of human contact with mediated exchange, the commodification of the person as product)

Contemporary formal education (whether in schools, colleges or universities) is currently poorly equipped either to resist the emergence of these crises today or to enable students and communities to flourish despite their consequences tomorrow.

There are, however, educators, researchers and activists working across the UK and internationally who are beginning to develop some of the resources needed to rethink education in ways that are adequate to these contemporary conditions. They are developing new institutions and pedagogies, they are building coherent analyses of the causes of crisis; they are inventing new curricula and social relations. These individuals and groups are beginning to map out the ways in which education might change to adapt to and resist the new conditions.

The challenge, then, is to find ways for these individuals and groups to learn from and with each other. The aim of ‘Education for the Crisis’ (which is an open non-commercial coalition of individuals concerned with these issues) is to support that process of shared learning. It aims to uncover and rapidly communicate the educational strategies, models and practices that might be commensurate with contemporary conditions first, between those people already working in these areas and then, within the more mainstream education field as a whole.


The aim of Education for the Crisis is to:
  • Encourage connections between individuals and institutions who are concerned or beginning to be interested in these issues and how they relate to education
  • Provide credible support for educators wishing to raise and respond to these issues in their institutions
  • Develop a resource base that will make it easier for educators to find information on these issues and to understand how other educators are responding
  • Build solidarity and support between individuals and institutions concerned with these issues
  • Increase the prevalence and quality of this debate in mainstream education settings
  • Do all of the above in a spirit of friendship and conviviality and mutual interest, rather than seeking to establish a new (funded) institution and orthodoxy


Our proposed plan of action for the next twelve months:
  • To bring together around 30 key individuals who are already working to address these issues in order to share resources and identify next steps (March 29 2012)
  • Seek out other organisations and individuals who are specifically seeking to address these issues and discuss the most effective ways of sharing intelligence and resources between them
  • Develop a set of publicly available resources to promote this debate amongst education audiences, including:
    • Slideset for conferences
    • Workshop outlines for capacity building events with educators, informal educators, students and others
    • Resources for governors
  • To promote researchers, activists and educators working in these areas as potential speakers and workshop leaders for educational events
  • Set up a public website that
    • brings together and provides pointers to useful resources on emerging crises and disruptions
    • brings together and provides pointers to education resources, models, ideas and practices addressing these issues
  • Produce an edited book that
    • brings together and provides pointers to useful resources on emerging crises and disruptions
    • brings together and provides pointers to education resources, models, ideas and practices addressing these issues

Our aspiration is not to establish a new institution or consensus, or to duplicate existing work, but to build dialogue between all those working to address the set of emerging challenges that societies and education are facing today.