Summer School

PESGB Postgraduate Summer School (Online)
Call for Applicants

Campus Wars and the Struggle for Democracy

Lead Tutor

Professor Sigal R. Ben-Porath (University of Pennsylvania) 

Visiting Speakers

Professor Elizabeth Anderson (Michigan)
Professor Allen Buchanan (Duke)
Associate Professor Kevin Vallier (Bowling Green)

Friday 23 – Monday 26 July 2021
Sessions will run from 2-4PM and 6-8PM GMT
The Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (PESGB) and Liverpool Hope University (LHU) will be providing for a postgraduate cohort to attend an online Summer School with Lead Tutor, Professor Sigal R. Ben-Porath (Penn GSE). The topic, Campus Wars and the Struggle for Democracy, is based around Professor Ben-Porath’s research as Fellow in Residence, Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard. Professor Elizabeth Anderson (University of Michigan), Professor Allen Buchanan (Duke), and Associate Professor Kevin Vallier (Bowling Green) will discuss recent publications on related topics. There is no charge for taking part. This is an extraordinary opportunity for outstanding postgraduate (or graduate) students from around the world to engage with world renowned philosophers on a pressing and timely subject.
The boundaries of open expression are contested today in representative institutions, social media, and the public sphere: should misinformation be protected? Outright lies? Bigotry? In the US and elsewhere, university students withdraw, protest and refuse platforms for visiting speakers for a variety of reasons. ‘No platforming’ raises worries that campuses will become mere echo chambers rather than lively marketplaces of ideas. Conversely providing platforms seem to signal credibility or acceptability. While students may cite reasons of safety to refuse a platform, some critics dismiss universities that cater to them as ‘coddling’. This struggle over open expression on campus is situated within broader polarization and extremism in the political sphere. In this context, Professor Ben-Porath’s work focuses broadly on the ways democratic institutions, and especially educational ones, can enhance democratic culture. Ben-Porath, who advises colleges and universities on policies and practices related to free speech, suggests normative guidelines on disruptions, controversial classroom discussions, and incendiary events. Rival conceptions of inclusion, harm (or safety), and of truth (or true knowledge) lead to different boundaries of acceptable speech in institutions of higher learning today. So too do conceptions of the goals of higher education and of the general democratic project. In this Summer School, Professor Ben-Porath, Dr John Tillson (Liverpool Hope) and distinguished guest speakers will enable students to reckon with these central ideas and bring them to bear on the role of college in revitalizing democracy.
Seminar sessions will be based on readings selected and distributed in advance. Each student will be asked to help lead or facilitate one session. There will be plenty of opportunities for socializing over coffee in between seminars as well as a farewell on the final day. Students will be assigned tutors to provide individualised career and research mentoring advice.


The PESGB welcomes all participants including those with disabilities. If you want to discuss your individual accessibility needs, please email pesg[email protected]for further details.

To Apply


  1. One sample of academic work
  2. A CV (maximum 2 sides A4)
  3. A letter of recommendation from an academic supervisor
  4. A letter explaining why you would like to attend the Summer School (maximum 1 side A4) 

Applicants must: 

  1. Be enrolled on a postgraduate course, graduate program, or engaged in postgraduate (or graduate) research, in any discipline, and have an interest in theory or philosophy of education, broadly construed.
  2. Be able to attend all online seminars for the duration of the summer school.
  3. Be able and willing ability to work collaboratively. 

Submit application materials to [email protected] by 5pm on Friday 16 April 2021. Decisions will be communicated by May 3.


Postgraduate Mentors

Each year we appoint postgraduate students to provide support and to facilitate group discussions at the Summer School. You need to be enthusiastic and able to help undergraduates work in groups to explore philosophical issues. Further details are available here.


Call for Tender

Expressions of interest and applications are invited from UK Higher Education Institutions wishing to become the host of the PESGB Summer School. Further information can be found here.