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Third International Conference of the Popular Education Network

The Third International Conference of the Popular Education Network (PEN) took place at the University of Minho, Braga, Portugal from Friday 3 to Sunday 5 December 2004, hosted by the Unit for Adult Education.

This conference buildt on the success of previous PEN conferences held in Edinburgh (2000) and Barcelona (2002).

The Popular Education Network now has 135 members in 120 institutions in 21 countries. Membership of the network is free and open to all who subscribe to the broad values and purposes of the network.

The language of the conference was English but there were opportunities for informal translation as appropriate. Non-English speakers were welcome to attend and participate fully.

Conference Programme
The conference was not organised around any particular theme - although certain key concerns, shared by many of us, did well emerge. For example:

a) the effects of globalisation on our work;
b) sustaining political commitment and ideological coherence in hard times;
c) developing alliances and strategic collaborations;
d) radicalising research and making it "really useful";
e) contesting managerialism and the culture of the accountant;
f) respecting diversity without abandoning solidarity;
g) exploiting relative autonomy;
h) working with progressive social movements;
i) developing curriculum and pedagogy;
j) engaging dialectically with the politics of policy developing more creative and expressive ways of working.

The conference was seminar/workshop-based.

The emphasis was on discussion, dialogue and debate rather than the formal presentation of academic/research papers.

The conference was an opportunity for university-based teachers and researchers, or others associated with work in higher education, who shared a common interest in popular education - many of whom work in considerable isolation in their own institutions - to meet, exchange ideas, learn from each other and enjoy some much needed solidarity and conviviality.

Further information about the network can be found on the PEN website: www.neskes.net/pen
The Popular Education Network statement of intent is the following.

Popular education is:
rooted in the real interests and struggles of ordinary people overtly political and critical of the status quo committed to progressive social and political change in the interests of a fairer and more egalitarian society

Popular education has the following characteristics:
 its curriculum comes out of the concrete experience and material interests of people in communities of resistance and struggle. its pedagogy is collective, focused primarily on group as distinct from individual learning and development;
it attempts to forge a direct connection between education and social change.

The Popular Education Network plans:
to promote the role of universities in supporting popular education;
to assist in linking activists in popular movements;
to make contact with popular educators and their networks throughout the world;
to encourage collaborative research and theoretical analysis;
to exchange teaching materials;
to develop the network through information technology;
to create a network web-site;
to convene international conferences and seminars;
to encourage publication and dissemination of relevant materials.
(If you are interested in fuller accounts of this particular view of popular education, see: Crowther J, Martin I and Shaw M (eds) (1999) Popular Education and Social Movements in Scotland Today, Leicester: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education; Kane L (2001) Popular Education and Social Change in Latin America, London: Latin America Bureau.)

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