Rebecca Bell speaks at 22nd Utopian Studies Society Conference 2022

In July 2022, Dr Rebecca Bell (VCRG member) will present a paper at the 22nd Utopian Studies Society Conference 2022 (July 13th – 15th),  hosted by the University of Brighton. Please find further details and an abstract of Rebecca’s paper below.

To register for the event, please visit conference website by clicking here.

22nd Utopian Studies Society Conference 2022, July 13th – 15th

University of Brighton

Re-imagining the university through hope in pedagogy (online panel)

Dr Rebecca Bell (University of the West of England Bristol, UWE)

Dr Ana Baeza Ruiz (University of Bristol; Loughborough University)


In the current neoliberal model of UK Higher Education, the disciplining effects of the market are notable: the trebling of tuition fees pits institutions against each other, and students are made to operate according to a logic of private consumption (Temple 2016; Nixon 2012: 7). As educational labour is increasingly subject to mechanisms of surveillance, routinization and time-management, the threat of discursive closure will continue to severely impact independence of thought and creative freedom. Among many educators, hopelessness has instituted itself as a modus operandi. Within this context, how can we activate ‘hope’ to imagine other (utopian) futures for university education? How can we carve serenity and quietude to develop creative, ontological approaches? In this paper, we wish to consider ‘hope’ to think, in Spivak’s terms, how ‘the teacher, while operating within the institution, can foster the emergence of a committed collectivity by not making her institutional commitment invisible: outside in the teaching-machine’ (331). We emphasise hope as the locus of possibility, but one that at once needs to be interrogated and critiqued. Hope has been a grounding concept in radical pedagogies (Freire 2017 [1973]; bell hooks 1994, 2003, 2010), but so too does it take neoliberal forms. Our interest lies in the ways in which ‘hope’ has increasingly been taken up to query the university qua institution (Amsler 2016). Hope, seen as this place of epistemological incompleteness (Bloch 1996), might offer creative re-imaginings of pedagogy that are ‘not yet’ as part of a rethinking of the university. Specifically, our focus will be on ontological methods that honour experience and reflection, plurality and relationality (Escobar, 2018) through object-focused and emotion-based approaches.