What is it about?

The article presents four conceptual meanings for "public": indefinitely circulating discourses, sociability between strangers, macro structures and the political public sphere. The article observes that "public" is being interpreted in two distinct ways. First, as constant openness to the emergence of what is yet not known. Second, in the context of existing structures, ideologies and forms of action. This distinction has critical implications on pedagogical practice.

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Why is it important?

Definitions of "public" and "public pedagogy" are often abstract and conceptually narrow in educational sciences. At the same time, public education as well as the public role of education and educators are urgent political questions in many countries. The article provides precise conceptual means to discuss "public pedagogy" both conceptually and on the level of pedagogical practices.


The richness of the public realm inspires me continuously. By writing this article, I wanted to emphasize how extensively important topic is at stake whenever the "public" dimension of education is being debated or questioned. The article illuminates the significant contribution that education makes to the public realm and therefore to society.

Dr Leena Ripatti-Torniainen
Helsingin Yliopisto

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Becoming (a) public: what the concept of public reveals about a programmatic public pedagogy at the university, Higher Education, August 2017, Springer Science + Business Media,
DOI: 10.1007/s10734-017-0182-5.
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