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The global (Un)Making of Epistemic Boundaries: University as an origin of postcolonial, feminist and ecological futures
Dienstag, 15.03.2022:
14:00 - 16:00

Virtueller Veranstaltungsort: Zoom Seminarraum 37

917 8728 1811, 494922
14. Organisationspädagogik, Ohne Kommission, qualitativ, theoretisch, historisch, Englisch


The global (Un)Making of Epistemic Boundaries: University as an origin of postcolonial, feminist and ecological futures

Chair(s): Dr. Julia Elven (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany), Prof. Dr. Susanne Maria Weber (Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany)

Diskutant*innen: Prof. Dr. Susanne Maria Weber (Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany)

The international working group (Egypt, Germany, Turkey) will discuss contemporary epistemic boundary shifts in the context of postcolonial, feminist and ecological knowledge production at universities. Taking an organizational educational perspective, the contributions focus on the university as an organization where (legitimate) scientific knowledge, thought and action are discursively entangled and practically negotiated. But universities are not mere sites of those discourses, they transform themselves with and through them. Here, for example, forms of sustainable production, ecological coexistence, postcolonial development or postpatriarchal organization can be invented, reflected and explored, thus establishing processes of organizational learning. But these processes of organizational learning cannot take place without also questioning the organizational boundaries and rethinking the relationship between university and society.


Beiträge des Panels


University as a Place for Boundary-Work: Organizational learning in the practical-discursive negotiations and demarcations of scientific responsibility

Dr. Julia Elven
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany

“Boundary-work” – the way T. Gieryn (1983: 781) introduced the term – refer to a practice of creating “a public image for science by contrasting it favorably to non-scientific intellectual or technical activities” to acquire intellectual authority and protect scientific autonomy. My empirical analysis of the universities’ positioning practices in the current international discourses on scientific responsibility, showed similar demarcations (Elven 2021): Responsible research is emphasized as a characteristic of 'real' science and at the same time science presents itself as responsible for debunking fake news and fact deniers. What the study also shows, however, is that boundary work is not only directed outward, but also significantly inward, and appears in the organizational field of the university as a process of (re)shaping relational power. Drawing on my empirical findings, I will frame Gieryns concept of boundary work in an organizational pedagogical way and show how practices of positioning and demarcation in the discourse of responsibility imply learning processes that show the potential to change the university both in its relations to the environment and in its constitution.

Elven, J. 2021. Varieties of ethics in academia. Rationalities of scientific responsibility in the (german) march for science. Knowledge Cultures 9(1), 21–34

Gieryn, T. F. 1983. Boundary-Work and the Demarcation of Science from Non-Science. American Sociological Review 48(6), 781–795


Possibility of a Non-gendered Feminist University

Duygu Altınoluk
Kilis 7 Aralık University (Turkey)

In the wake of the feminist movement, a rich body of social theory has grown esp. over the last sixty years. Nevertheless, we spend our lifetime within a gendered society and a significant amount of our time in gendered organizations. Bureaucracy and hierarchy can be seen as male-created and male-dominated structures of control, that also shape our education system. Thus, even in their educational trajectories, girls and women encounter many difficult barriers (discussed as ‘glass-ceiling’, ‘leaky-pipeline’ or male ‘gatekeeping’). This contribution focusses on the key dilemmas and handicaps of gendered academia resp. science and then discussing the feminist pedagogical university. Science is a powerful and crucial institution for the reproduction of gender relations because men make decisions here that have a major impact on education and society. Joan Acker (1990, 1992) speaks of a "gendered academia" and in its institutional framework, the university as a "gendered organization” determines components of individual identity as well as the logic of the organization. The paper combines Acker's approach with feminist pedagogy to discuss a de-gendered university using the example of the implementation of a women's quota in the administration of a Turkish university.

Acker, J. 1990. Hierarchies, Jobs, Bodies: A Theory of Gendered Organizations. Gender & Society 4(2), 139-158
Acker, J. 1992. From Sex Roles to Gendered Institutions. Contemporary Sociology 21(5), 565-569


Analyzing Islamic Imaginaries of the University and Notions of Academic Freedom

Israa Medhat
Cairo University, Egypt

What are notions of academic freedom in different islamic imaginaries of the University? In contemporary middle eastern debates on the university, the modern european university is criticized as an exclusive western invention, which claims universal relevance. The search for own cultural traditions of the university shows alternative streams of discursive (re-)positionings, varying between a) liberal intellectual positions, b) institutional autonomy and c) religiously bound islamic imaginaries. The paper presents a) the thoughts of the persian doctor, natural scientist, Aristotelian-new-platonian philosopher Ibn Sina (Avicenna born 980 - 1037). Makdisi (1981), discusses b) the rise of “Madrasah” in medieval Islam as a form of higher education institutions, enjoying institutional autonomy. c) Contemporary Islamic imaginaries proposing the ‘islamization and de-westernization of knowledge’ (Wan Daud, 2013), which intend to remove secular elements from knowledge and to leave the ‘westernized’ individualized subject behind. Discussing those imaginaries of the university, different discursive positionings and notions of academic freedom are shown.

Makdisi, G. 1981. The Rise of Colleges. Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

Wan Mohd. Nor Wan Daud. 2013. Islamization of Contemporary Knowledge and the Role of the University in the Context of De-Westernization and Decolonization, Kuala Lampur: UTM Press


Contested Campus: Academic education between openness and foreclosure

Dr. Jörg Schwarz
Helmut-Schmidt-Universität / Universität der Bundeswehr Hamburg, Germany

According to the European University Association, future universities shall be "open, transformative and transnational", as "communities of learners, academics and professional staff with open boundaries" they "build bridges between countries, cultures and sectors" (EUA 2021: 5). In my contribution, I will confront this high-gloss policy vision with a real-life example: The Helmut Schmidt University was founded in 1973 as an open university that crosses boundaries between military, academia and (civil) society. The education of the military elite was not to take place in a military academy, but in an university that offers civilian degree programs, has civilian academic personnel and is subject to civil HE law. As in the idea of the 'citizen in uniform', in this encounter of two "communities of practice", "boundary practices" (Wenger 2000) might emerge and offer opportunities for individual as well as organisational learning and finally: for social integration. But this openness was contested ever since, most recently by plans for a military security area. The contribution shows that the debate can't be understood as a mere continuation of a long-running organisational struggle for power, but rather in the light of overarching discourses about universality and particularity in academic education.

EUA. 2021. Universities without walls. A vision for 2030. Brussels: EUA
Wenger, E. 2000. Communities of Practice and Social Learning Systems. Organization 7(2), 225–246


Shifting Ecological Boundaries of the University: Within and for the Earth

Mete Kurtoğlu
Middle East Technical University, Turkey

Given the impact of global challenges rising from global climate change, gender inequality etc., there seems to be a gradual shift towards a discourse on ‘higher education for sustainable development’ with reference to UN SDG’s. Going beyond sustainability discourse, this paper focuses on the ‘ecological university’ as a conceptional and practical framework for opening the boundaries of the modern university to holistic, indigenous, inter-cultural knowledge and pedagogies. It starts with Barnett’s (2017) conceptualization of the ecological university for realizing their potential and responsibilities in an age of super-complexity. This is followed by an analysis of three related initiatives: i. Pachamama University as an indigenous and post-colonial case from Latin America (Weber and Tascón, 2020); ii. Ecoversities alliance as a global network of alternative inter-cultural and ecological learning spaces ( and iii. the project for ‘the university campus as living lab for sustainability’ ( .

Barnett, R. (2017). The Ecological University: A Feasible Utopia (1st ed.). Routledge.

Weber, S.M., Tascón, M.A. (2020) Pachamama—La Universidad del ‘Buen Vivir’: A First Nations Sustainability University in Latin America. In: Leal Filho W. et al. (eds) Universities as Living Labs for Sustainable Development. World Sustainability Series. Springer, Cham.