Keynote/Guest Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Anthony O’Hear

Professor, School of Education, University of Buckhingham, UK.

Professor O’Hear is Director of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, editor of the journal Philosophy, author of many books on the subject, and was formerly Government Advisor on Education and Teacher Training. He is a philosopher with a special interest in education. His areas of expertise include Educational philosophy and practice; the curriculum; moral and religious education; education and politics.

His works include Education, Society and Human Nature: An Introduction to Philosophy of Education (Routledge, 2014), Beyond Evolution: human nature and the limits of evolutionary explanation (Clarendon Press, 1997), Plato’s Children (Gordon Square, 2005), Philosophy in the New Century  Continuum, 2001, After Progress (Bloomsbury, 1999). He has also edited The School of Freedom. A Liberal Education Reader from Plato to the Present Day (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2009) with Marc Sidewell.

Gurpreet Mahajan

Professor, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal, Nehru University, New Delhi, India
Professor Mahajan in her recent work India: Political Ideas and Making of a Democratic Discourse (Zed Books, 2013) tackles the predisposition of political theory to be limited by the Western canon.  Her seminal and influential work include Accommodating Diversities: Ideas and Institutional Practices (Ed.) (Routledge 2010), The Public and the Private: Democratic Citizenship in a Comparative Framework, (ed.) (Sage, Delhi, 2003), and  Explanations and Understanding in Human Sciences (OUP 1992) and Identities and Rights: Aspects of Liberal Democracy in India, (OUP 1998) among other books and seminal papers.

Harry Brighouse

Professor, Department of Philosophy, and Affiliate Professor of Educational Policy Studies, University of Winconsin-Madison, USA

Professor Brighouse’s  interests include the explorations of a number of school reform ideas such as school choice, democratic schools, and small schools, in the light of an egalitarian theory of educational justice. His current project include  current project within political philosophy is working out the place of the family in egalitarian liberalism.

His books include Social Choice and Social Justice  (OUP 2003), Justice (Polity 2005) and On Education (Routledge, 2005). He has also edited a volume on Family Values: The Ethics of Parent- Child Relationship (Princeton University Press, 2014) with Adam Swift and Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism (Cambridge University Press, 2005) with Julian Baggini. With Randall Curren and Mitja Sardoc, he edited a volume called Theory and Research in Education. 

Nirmalangshu Mukherji

Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi, Delhi, India.

Nirmalangshu Mukherji is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Delhi. He is interested in the question of whether human languages can be subjected to systematic inquiry. Beginning with classical philosophy of language, Mukherji was drawn to cognitive science, and somehow ended up looking at biolinguistics, nature of musical organization, and the general properties of the human mind. Examining the properties of language and mind has been his primary academic interest. His publications in this broad area include The Cartesian MindReflections on Language and Music (IIAS, 2000) and The Primacy of Grammar (MIT, 2010). He also co-edited Noam Chomsky’s The Architecture of Language (OUP, 2000). He is currently working on two books: From Language to Mind (OUP, Forthcoming) and Mind and Merge (In Preparation). Professor Mukherji is also professionally interested on general questions of life, including the character of philosophical practice.  There is no conscious attempt, but sometimes these two apparently disjoint interests seem to merge. Some representative publications are: “Academic philosophy in India”. Economic and Political Weekly, Volume 37, No.10, March 2002;  “Textuality and common life”, In S. Chaudhury (Ed.) Literature and Philosophy, Jadavpur University, 2005;  “Textuality and mass culture”, In I. Habib (Ed.) Religion and Material Life, Tulika, 2007; “Truth and Intelligibility”, In ScienceLiteratureAesthetics, Ed. Amiya Dev, New Delhi 2010; “Doctrinal dualism”, Materialism and Immaterialism in India and the West, Ed. Partha Ghosh, New Delhi 2009. Etc. There is also a third, more recent interest: to do something about peace, justice, human rights. There is little academic philosophy in it, but Mukherji thinks he couldn’t have written them without lifelong engagement with philosophy. He has two books, December 13Terror over Democracy, Bibliophile South Asia, 2005, and Maoist in IndiaTribals under Siege, Pluto 2012, Amaryllis 2013.

Randall Curren

Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Rochester, New York, USA

Professor Curren is a professor and chair of the philosophy department and holds a secondary appointment in the Warner School’s educational leadership program. He is also chair of moral and virtue education in the Jubilee Centre for Character and Values at the University of Birmingham in England and holds the first professorship established in the Royal Institute of Philosophy (London).

He is the author of Aristotle on the Necessity of Public Education (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000) and Education for Sustainable Development: A Philosophical Assessment (2009), and editor of A Companion to the Philosophy of Education (Blackwell, Ltd., 2003; 2006; 2011 in Chinese) and Philosophy of Education: An Anthology (Blackwell, 2007). He is also the editor-in-chief of the international journal, Theory and Research in Education (SAGE).

Susie Tharu

Eminent Professor, Department of Cultural Studies, EFL University, Hyderabad, India

Professor Tharu is also a founder member of Stree Shakti Sanghatana and Anveshi, Research Centre for Women’s Studies, Hyderabad and a member of the erstwhile Subaltern Studies Collective. Her teaching and research interests are in feminism and other issues of minority, social medicine and the literary and visual arts. She has given talks at and taught in universities across India and other parts of the world, and published six books including, in the early 1990s, the well-known two-volume anthology, Women Writing in India.

Tharu is  the co-author of The Exercise of Freedom: An Introduction to Dalit Writing (with K Satyanarayana) ( Navayana 2013) and co-editor of the two-volume anthology Women Writing in India, as well as No Alphabet in Sight and Steel Nibs are Sprouting.

Invited/Guest Speakers

Amita Chatterjee

Emeritus Professor, School of Cognitive Sciences, Jadavpur University, Kolkata,

Professor Chatterjee is former vice-Chancellor Presidency University, and was National Fellow of Indian Council of Philosophical Research in 2012-13. She was Charles Wallace Fellow at the Department of Philosophy, University of Liverpool. She is the author of Understanding Vagueness (Pragati Prakashan Kolkata, 1994) and  has co-authored Mental Reasoning: Experiments and Reasoning (Codes Publishers, Kolkata 2009) with Smita Sirkar. In addition to she has edited and co-edited many books including Bhartiya Dharmniti (Allied Publishers, New Delhi 2003 ), and Some Philosophical Issues in Indian Logic (Allied Publishers, New Delhi, 2003).   


Catherine Z. Elgin

Professor of the Philosophy of Education, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, USA

Professor Elgin is a philosopher whose focus is the theory of knowledge and the philosophies of art and science and language. She holds a Ph.D. from Brandeis University. She is well known for her several joint works with philosopher Nelson Goodman. Her seminal work has addressed the questions like ‘what makes something cognitively valuable?’ As an epistemologist, she considers the pursuit of understanding to be of higher value than the pursuit of knowledge. In her influential book ‘Considered Judgement’, she argues for “a reconception that takes reflective equilibrium as the standard of rational acceptability. Her other work include Between the Absolute and the Arbitrary, With Reference to Reference, and co-author (with Nelson Goodman) of Reconceptions in Philosophy and Other Arts and Sciences.

Gopal Guru

Professor, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Professor Guru is a well known academic and a public intellectual in India. His co-authored book ‘Cracked Mirror’ with Sundar Sarukkai has been a much discussed and influential project in recent academic debates on theory and experience.  The book explores the relationship between experience and theory in Indian social sciences in the form of a dialogue and focuses on questions of Dalit experience and untouchability. While Professor Guru argues that only those who have lived lives as subalterns can represent them accurately, Sundar Sarukkai feels that people located outside the community can also represent them. Besides, he is also the editor of a book called ‘Humiliation’ which addresses the questions of Humiliation as social experience. Professor has been making seminal contribution to the discourse on ‘Social Justice’ in India.

James Tooley

Professor, School of Education Communication, and Language Sciences, New Castle University,  UK

He is a professor of education policy at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, where he directs the E. G. West Centre.  For his research on private education for the poor in India, China and Africa, Tooley was awarded the gold prize in the first International Finance Corporation/Financial Times Private Sector Development Competition in September 2006. From 2007 to 2009, he was founding President of the Education Fund, Orient Global,[5] and lived in Hyderabad, India. He is currently chairman of education companies in Ghana (Omega Schools Franchise Ltd) and India (Empathy Learning Systems Pvt Ltd) creating low cost chains of low cost private schools.

His book The Beautiful Tree: A personal journey into how the world’s poorest are educating themselves, published by Penguin (New Delhi), featured in several Indian non-fiction best-sellers lists in late 2009. The book builds on his ground-breaking research on private education for the poor in India, China and Africa.

Judith Suissa

Associate Professor, Institute of Education, London, UK

Her research is mainly in the area of political philosophy, with a focus on liberal theory, critiques of liberalism, libertarian and anarchist educational thought and practice, and the role of the state in education. In her recent work, she has been looking at the educational role of parents, drawing on work in moral philosophy, the philosophy of childhood and moral psychology to develop a philosophical perspective on upbringing and the parent-child relationship.

She has written many seminar and noted papers in Journal of Philosophy of Education, Educational Theories and British Journal of Educational Studies which include Private Schools, Choice and Ethical Environment (British Journal of Educational Studies, 2013) and Claims of Parenting: reasons, Responsibility and Society Contemporary philosophies and theories in education; vol. 4, 2012).

Niraja Gopal Jayal

Professor, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

Professor Jayal’s book include Citizenship and its Discontents: An Indian History, (Harvard University Press, 2013),  Representing India: Ethnic Diversity and the Governance of Public Institutions (Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2006), and Democracy and the State: Welfare, Secularism and Development in   Contemporary India, (Oxford University Press, Delhi. 1999). She has also co-authored a book titled Essays Gender and Governance  (UNDP 2013) with Martha Nussbaum, Amrita Basu and Yasmin Tambiah and Oxford Companion to Politics in India ( OUP 2011) with Pratap Bhanu Mehta.

She was Vice- President American Political Science Association (2011-12), and serves on the editor board of India Review and International Journal of Feminist Political Economy.

Padma Sarangapani

Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India

Prof. Sarangapani has been involved in many important innovative teaching programme in Education including the Bachelor of Elementary Education at Delhi University and the Masers in Education, TISS.  She has also worked extensive to collaborate with the Government of Karnataka in the District Quality Education Programme with a focus on District and Sub District Resource Institutions.  She is editor of Contemporary Education Dialogue, Published by SAGE since 2010 and on the International Editorial Board of British Journal of Sociology of Education.

Prof. Sarangapani has authored many papers published in national and international peer reviewed journals and in edited books, policy briefs and reports, and authored one book “Constructing School Knowledge”2003, SAGE.  She is currently member of the National Council for Teacher Education and the National Mission on Teachers and Teaching. She is also the editor of Contemporary Education Dialogues, a journal published by Sage.

Rohit Dhankar

Professor, School of Education, Azim Premji University, Bangalore, India

Rohit is Director School of Education and Academic Development, Azim Premji University, Bangalore. He has been instrumental in designing philosophy of education curriculum in Master of Arts in Education Programme at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and Azim Premji University, Bangalore.  He is also the founder of Digantar, a Jaipur based organization committed to alternative pedagogic practice and he serves as a secretary to Digantar. He worked as a teacher at Digantar for more than a decade.

He has been part of many NCERT initiatives in developing material and curriculum through various committees. He was an integral part of the National Curriculum Framework 2005 process as a member of the National Steering Committee, drafting committee and Chair of Focus Group on Curriculum, Syllabus and Textbooks. He has also been contributing his articles, papers and opinions pieces in different journals, newspapers and magazines. He has also written a couples of books in Hindi addressing the questions of education, curricula and human life from philosophical perspectives.

Sharon Todd

Professor, Education Department, Mynooth University, Ireland

Professor Todd in interested in Philosophy of Education with an emphasis on feminism and contemporary continental philosophy. Topics include the political and ethical aspects of education, interculturalism and diversity issues, images of femininity and masculinity in curriculum knowledge, and educational relationships. Past published research has focused on cross cultural conflict, democracy and cosmopolitanism, human rights education, debates about Muslim dress in European schools, and the idea of transformation within educational thought. Informing this scholarship especially has been the work of Emmanuel Levinas, Hannah Arendt and Luce Irigaray.

She is on editorial board of Studies in Philosophy and Education, Journal of Philosophy of Education and Educational Theory.

She was Co-editor of Special Issue, Journal of Philosophy of Education, on “Re-imagining Educational Relationships: Ethics, Politics, Practices” (With M. Griffiths, M. Hoveid, C. Winter). Vol. 48, Issue 2. Todd. S (2014) and the Editor, Special Issue, Ethics and Education, on “Passion, Commitment and Justice in Education” Vol. 9, Issue 1.