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One-day conference to explore history of part-time education

Birkbeck’s contribution to higher education over two centuries will be discussed, led by the institution’s current serving Vice-Chancellor and two former Masters.

old photo of Birkbeck

Birkbeck will host a Useful Knowledgeconference next week (Thursday 24 February, 9.00am-5.30pm) to delve into pivotal moments of its history, considering its impact on adult education from its early existence as a mechanics institute to more contemporary discussions around lifelong learning. 

The one-day event, to be preceded by an online launch the day before, will be held online and will feature distinguished, high profile speakers including Professors Sally Alexander, Jerry White and Marai Larasi. Historian, Professor Joanna Bourke, will lead a special panel discussion with the current Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Latchman and two former Birkbeck Masters: Sir Timothy O'Shea and Baroness Tessa Blackstone.  

Professor Joanna Bourke said, “Nearly two centuries of learning at Birkbeck is inextricably linked with the history of part-time, mature higher education. This conference serves to navigate this incredibly rich timeline alongside broader, related themes such as female education, war and empire, plus sex and gender.  I encourage anyone who is interested in both the past and future direction of higher education to attend.” 

Topics scheduled to be covered at the main conference include Exploring the Adult Learners’ Transition from the Workplace to Higher Education (Kristy Campbell, UCL Institute of Education), The Experience of Women – the real impact of part-time and mature higher education since the 1970s (Jacqueline Jeynes, Aberystwyth University) and ‘Useful’ vs ‘Really Useful’ Knowledge then – and now? (Richard Clarke, Birkbeck). 

The launch event, to be held on Wednesday 23 February, from 6.00pm-8.15pm and chaired by Professor Joanna Bourke, will also be held online and will feature biological scientist, Professor Carolyn Moores, speaking about Rosalind Franklin’s life and work at Birkbeck, and historian, Sir Richard J Evans, about Eric Hobsbawm’s career at the College. 

Further Information

History of Birkbeck

Birkbeck's 200th anniversary 

Read bicentenary blogs

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