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2020 Virtual Conference

From Instrumentality to Criticality:
A Call to Articulate
a “Language” of Ethical Engagement

Without community, there is no liberation ... but community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.                                                                              Audre Lorde

The year 2021 will mark twenty years since AAACS’s organizational meeting in Seattle in 2001. As that milestone approaches, reflection on the role AAACS has played in advancing dialogues within the field seems appropriate. Into what kind of (inter)disciplinary community have we grown since 2001? What areas of shared ethical commitment have we identified against the backdrop of our broad theoretical diversity? How have the conversations AAACS was created to engender been enriched and complicated by international perspectives? What challenges have curriculum scholars faced as bodies operating in institutionalized spaces?

AAACS reaches its maturity as the United States and many other parts of the world face a resurgent, reactionary politics that promotes white nationalism, race baiting, and anti-immigrant detention and deportation policies that gut long-established human rights practices.  In what ways have we as a field responded to this political landscape? What targeted actions and arguments can our field offer in opposition to the establishment of pervasive surveillance regimes, data commodification and the broader degradation of the public sphere?

In response to these concerns, we call here for a language of ethical engagement. Drawing insight from philosophical traditions and inspiration from emerging theoretical frameworks, we invite a return to radically democratic pedagogy. The question Counts (1934) asked, Dare the schools build a new social order?, is still relevant today. We speak most effectively of our intentions within our own local school communities when we reflect upon: what normative and broadly compelling grounds can visions of a “new social order” be established?

Such a challenge raises many considerations. Should we as a field commit ourselves to revitalizing public education’s commitment to critical citizenship, a democratic construct that has yet to be fully realized? What are the implications of how we position, or don’t position, our scholarship? How does our language of instrumentality and criticality shape our discursive practices? Where are the languages of education? What might a language of ethical engagement look like in our educational practices and settings? How might it sound?

There is no end to what a living world will demand of you. — Octavia Butler

Can we envision curriculum on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis? — William Pinar

COVID-19 has variously impacted our individual and collective lives, communities, and societies, bringing to light the fallacy of borders and the darkness of a pandemic that threatens to absorb the known world. It is tempting to give in to despair as the unknown—this unprecedented moment—bears global, social, political, cultural, and curricular implications. What role can curriculum studies play as we (re)envision a future that sustains the (more than) human?

There are years that ask questions and years that offer answers, wrote Zora Neale Hurston. The COVID-19 pandemic is not the only crises. The past year 2020 was marked also by global uprisings against police brutality and was followed by an insurrection on January 6, 2021, raising many questions. We invite proposals that engage the notion of “virality” and Curriculum in the Viral Age. Virality denotes both speed and globality, and the conference theme gestures towards the history not only of pandemics in relation to other global threats and emergencies. The curricular issues pandemics raise “go viral” and the reflections they provoke concern globalization, financialization, hegemony, (neo)colonialism, technology & social media, (il)liberalism, ecological risks, chronic poverty and world hunger to name but a few. There are endless avenues of inquiry to be pursued as the ramifications of the pandemic become clearer, and particularly so as they intersect with the equally viral issues of equity, social justice, and marginality in this time of great uncertainty.

What are the curricular impacts of this pandemic on education and (public, private, home) schooling?
What are implications for both educators (e.g., teachers) and caregivers (e.g., parents)?
How are often-silenced voices (of women, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, for example) visible in curriculum (development) during the pandemic?
What (new) forms might curriculum take post-pandemic?
How might the pandemic inform what new curricular discourses are built in and for the future?
How does the curriculum assume disruptive and unpublished traits?

The American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies invites proposals for its 2021 Annual Conference, to be held virtually via Zoom on Thursday noon, April 29 – Saturday noon, May 1, 2021.

2021 Conference Call for Proposals

Curriculum in the Viral Age

American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies


Thursday Noon, April 29 – Saturday Noon, May 1, 2021

AAACS and co-hosts:

Louisiana State University,

National Louis University,

Yale University