Theory at the Intersections Initiative

A recent Scottish Government report, Teaching Scotland’s Future: Report of a Review of Teacher Education in Scotland, recommends that teacher education in Scotland should create more integrated relationships between theory and practice, between the academic and the practitioner, between the university providers of teacher education and schools.

Here at the University of Aberdeen, we aspire to renew our vision of theory and research at the intersections of teacher education and professional learning, pedagogical innovations, and collaborative partnerships and networks for children and young people. Our aim is to connect our building and use of theory, research and knowledge to the world beyond the school or university classroom. We seek to develop new education and social theory networks that will support our approach to the preparation of teachers and other children’s sector practitioners.

At the Intersections: our vision

School of Education: learning, teaching and research strands

Our theory at the intersections initiative: THEORY SPACE is characterized by an interdisciplinary approach and its use of social theory to question discourses and practices relating to the preparation of teachers and other public sector practitioners.

The first two strands in the THEORY SPACE, theory at the intersections initiative, which bring together practitioners across the child sector disciplines are:

Building THEORY SPACE research networks

The School of Education THEORY SPACE initiative brings together the School's research strands on pedagogy, professional practice, and culture and society. The School of Education THEORY SPACE initiative is the focus of a series of school, university and cross-institutional research seminars:

Dr Joan Forbes & Dr Archie Graham. School of Education, University of Aberdeen, THEORY SPACE 'Cafe' session: The THEORY SPACE: An Interactive 'Cafe'. MacRobert Building, University of Aberdeen.  Wednesday 18 June 2014. For more information please click on the link here

Chris Aldred, Dr Joan Forbes & Professor Gabrielle Ivinson. Invited papers at Inclusion Research Group, University of Aberdeen, gender research seminar: Excellence, educational change and women’s challenges to policy and practice; Gender power/knowledge in elite school research: methodological insights; Gender, power and education.  University of Aberdeen, Wednesday 21 May 2014. The gender research seminar themes are located across the THEORY SPACE at the centre and intersections of school research themes.

Professor Christopher Fynsk, Director, Centre for Modern Thought, University of Aberdeen. Invited paper at School of Education, University of Aberdeen seminar series. Title tbc, orientating themes: The Teacher in Public. What do each of the terms in “the teacher in public” mean?   What ideas of teaching are called upon (or for) and what assumptions about the relation between that activity and the social context of “the public”? What constitutes this THEORY SPACE? What are the fundamental perspectives regarding “the teacher in public” (including historical perspectives). What cultural and socio-political frameworks might be considered to address this question. What public?  How do we conceive this public in concrete terms. MacRobert Building, Wednesday 19 February 2014.

Dr Joan Forbes & Dr Archie Graham. School of Education, University of Aberdeen Seminar Series paper: Pedagogical, inter/professional, and socio-cultural transformations. Locating research at the centre: conceptualizing an innovative transdisciplinary and transprofessional THEORY SPACE. MacRobert Building, University of Aberdeen.  Wednesday 18 December 2013.  For more information please click on the link here

Dr Joan Forbes, Dr Archie Graham & Professor Christopher Fynsk. Invited paper at Institute of Applied Health Sciences (IAHS) University of Aberdeen seminar series: The Teacher in public: (re)engaging the disciplines. Interdisciplinary working and the development of future ‘public intellectuals’: Promoting the THEORY SPACE ‘across-Schools’ agenda. Medico-Chirurgical Hall, CLSM, University of Aberdeen. Wednesday 26 June 2013 ( .

Dr Joan Forbes & Dr Archie Graham. Invited paper: Aberdeen Forum for the Child (a University of Aberdeen/Robert Gordon University collaborative research group). Childhood research at the intersections: social theory applied. The THEORY SPACE ‘across schools and institutions’. University of Aberdeen, Wednesday 19 June 2013 (pm).

Dr Joan Forbes. Invited seminar paper presentation: Children's services working together: the Getting it Right for Every Child (GiRFEC) programme in Scotland. A research and THEORY SPACE across the university disciplines which prepare the child sector professions. Eau St Claire University, Wisconsin, USA, Inclusive Practice Educators visiting scholars group. University of Aberdeen,  Wednesday  19 June, 2013 (am).

Dr Niina Kolehmainen, Institute of Applied Health Sciences (IAHS), Health Services Research Unit (HSRU) (CLSM), University of Aberdeen. Invited paper presentation at School of Education Research Seminar series: Goals, Therapy Support and Education in the Context of Children with Disabilities: Sharing Research and Thoughts. School of Education, University of Aberdeen, 1.00-2.00, Wednesday 20th March 2013, MacRobert Building 317. Dr Niina Kolehmainen is a clinician researcher in the Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen. She conducts research to explore and improve NHS therapies in the context of children with disabilities. In this interactive seminar Dr Kolehmainen shares some of the findings from her recent research with a view to exploring intersections and shared issues with education.

Dr Edith Doron, Centre for Modern Thought. Invited paper presentation: Welcoming the Stranger: From Social Inclusion to Exilic Education. A School of Education THEORY SPACE, Teacher in Public initiative. The School of Divinity, University of Aberdeen, Research Seminar Series, Wednesday 5th December 2012. Dr Doron worked in museum education in New York City for over eight years: first as the Cultural Program Developer for the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the world’s first museum designed entirely and expressly for children and then as the Director of Programs at the Long Island Children’s Museum. Her work intersecting with education has evolved from teaching and developing interactive exhibit spaces that were based in the museum’s extensive collections to creating original and experimental cultural events by forging new partnerships with diverse community-based organizations, NGO’s, artists and business leaders across the New York metropolitan area.

New publications from the THEORY SPACE initiative

Promoting inter/institutional interdisciplinary research on pedagogy, culture and society; and seeking to develop sound inter/professional practice and innovative and effective education in the university for teachers and other practitioners in schools and children’s public services, the School of Education THEORY SPACE initiative has stimulated new transprofessional and transdisciplinary areas of debate, research, knowledge exchange and theory building. Recent School of Education THEORY SPACE publications include:

Forbes, J. & McCartney, E. (2014) Educating child practitioners: a (re)turn to the university disciplines. Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education. Published 7 January 2014. DOI: 10.1080/01596306.2013.871235.

Argument in the paper suggests that it is timely that all involved in the university preparation of children’s services practitioners embark on serious and sustained researcherly conversations to identify common research interests pertaining to ‘the child’ at the intersections of pedagogical innovations, professionalism and societal demands for better service integration. It is further suggested that to develop Scotland’s future child practitioners as Scottish public intellectuals who work across professional boundaries to fashion themselves as active, competent and confident agents for child/youth social justice and well-being, projects such as the University of Aberdeen School of Education THEORY SPACE: Teacher in Public project with the University of Aberdeen, Centre for Modern Thought (The Centre for Modern Thought) are now needed.

For further information about the THEORY SPACE please contact: