CIES 2021 Conference Theme

Social Responsibility within Changing Contexts

As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, we are experiencing rapid changes in political, economic, environmental, cultural, and social spaces, including an expansion of non-state actors in the field and new social movements. With changing contexts, how are our visions and agendas changing? How does this influence our actions in policy, planning, and practice? How does social responsibility – of corporate entities, governments, development organizations, communities, and researchers – interact with these changing contexts, the growing variety of actors, and evolving visions and approaches to education globally and locally? Who benefits from the work we do, and how? How do we, collectively, benefit? How do power relations as related to gender, race, sexuality, culture, social hierarchies, and community relations, etc., shape our understandings and actions and change as a result of our work? What is the responsibility of our field to reimagine what our work looks like when we are all responsible to others for improving education, and by implication, people’s lives?

At CIES 2021 we invite a renewed attention to social responsibility and the ethical practice of education and policy development. It is about the responsibility we have to one another, to the communities we work in and with, the organizations we consult for, and the government bodies we advise. Educational policy and practice are assumed to be for the collective and individual good in communities and nations, yet, how do increasing market-based logics and profit motives influence the collective and individual good? How are power relations in societies challenged and/or maintained? What are the underlying driving forces in our work, collectively and individually? How are we responsible to the communities with whom we partner? Social responsibility is a concept that has been adopted by the corporate sector; here we invite a much broader and deeper engagement with it. What does social responsibility mean to educators, to policy makers, within the development community, to governments, and to activists, perhaps different from that of the corporate and corporate philanthropy worlds? How might we interrogate all of our roles, our relationships and our processes as we engage as individual entities and collaboratively? Who benefits from the work we do, and how?

We invite participants in the 65th CIES annual conference to consider social responsibility as it intersects with changing contexts, underlying assumptions and values, how we do the work we do, and how it affects people’s lives. Submissions are invited to address one or more of the following topics (along with other pertinent comparative and international education topics):

Social responsibility as a driving force for education/development work.

  • What might social responsibility look like as we move further into the 21st century?
  • To whom are we responsible, and why?
  • How does social responsibility extend to ecological responsibility and just transitions?

Expanded range of actors and movements.

  • What informs the orientations and contributions of the various actors and movements? How do and can relationships across actors, new and old, condition the work we all do?
  • How does the expanding variety of actors, including technology companies and financial institutions, for-profit schools and charter schools, privatized educational management organizations, corporate and private foundations, celebrities, and activists influence our collective sense of responsibility?
  • How does the work within various movements, and people’s response to movements, shape our understandings of educational practice, research, policy and activism?
  • How are teachers’ unions movements, the Movement for Black Lives, indigenous movements, LGBTQ movements, the Dalit movement, student movements like #FeesMustFall and #RhodesMustFall, DREAMERS and other immigrant rights movements, landless workers movements, etc., indicative of a changing social and political landscape, reflective of changes in how people understanding of what is important in education and beyond?

Nuanced and intersecting contextual changes.

  • How are contexts changing, culturally, economically, politically, etc.? How does socially responsible educational practice and policy influence those changes? How does the changing context shape social responsibility?
  • How do public health challenges (such as COVID-19) affect other domains and dimensions of education globally?
  • How does tech and financial capital affect educational practice and policy, and social responsibility?

Lived experience as shaped by changing contexts, spaces, values, and actions.

  • How are the social constructions of gender, race, sexuality, culture, social hierarchies, and community relations changing relative to globalization, neoliberalism, global agendas, new actors’ involvement (and other influences)?
  • How does the cumulative experience of the field inform the ways that people – in NGOs and multilateral organizations, governments, corporations, philanthropies, partnerships, and communities – make sense of what is important in education and their communities, in society, and how social responsibility is implicated?

Policy and practice as reflecting underlying assumptions and values.

  • What are the ideologies reflected in the assumptions and values? How do these underlying ideologies relate to discourses of purpose, missions and visions, and when do they fall short? How might we better understand disconnections or agreements?
  • Policy, practice, funding and research are intertwined, yet they are often treated separately. How do they interact and collectively engage particular assumptions and values over others?
  • How might we consider these important facets to our work through a socially responsible lens?
  • Are motivations and underlying assumptions altruistic, profit-motived, and/or reflective of particular visions of development? Are they culturally responsive, or neocolonial in tone? How do they prioritize economic gain, participatory processes, community empowerment, or branding processes?
  • How do policy, implementation models, and strategies for practice take up or reflect understandings of changing contextual influences, social responsibility, assumptions underlying theories of change, and how communities experience educational programming?

How far can social responsibility reach?

  • How might, or does, our work that is driven by an ethos of social responsibility impact not only those intended to benefit (students, families, for example), but also neighbors, nearby communities, the environment, the community’s economic clout, etc.?
  • How would a stronger sense of social responsibility change our processes and agendas?
  • What are the responsibilities of our own organizations, and to whom?
  • How might it change power relations among all those involved or affected?

CIES 2021 invites proposals that engage social responsibility, to critically examine its nuances and multiple dimensions through its discursive framings, and in the ways it is experienced and enacted. Social
responsibility is revealed not only in how organizations, social movements, and individuals talk about what they do, but also through their processes – how they do what they do – and what the outcomes are, short-term and long-term, intended an unintended, including how others experience these processes and outcomes. Situating social responsibility in our changing contexts is critical. We invite participants to consider the intersections of changing contexts, the expanding community of actors, and the complexities of motivations and agendas, along with the lived experience of people and communities with whom we work. In short, what we think, what we do, how we do it, who we do it with, and in what contexts, are all important. What is our responsibility to others, known and not known, and to the environments within which we all live and work?

CIES invites proposals that respond to the conference theme and expand knowledge production and educational practice within the field of comparative and international education.

Please visit the conference website at for additional information about the submission process. Updated information related to COVID-19 is will be posted as needed. We encourage submission of proposals through SIGs or Committees where pertinent, or through the General Pool. All submissions will be through All Academic.

• Online proposal submission system opens: in mid-August 2020
• Submission deadline: October 1, 2020 (Extended to October 14, 2020) (11:59pm EDT).