Minimal Utopianism in the Classroom

Emile Bojesen, Judith Suissa

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In this paper we build on recent work on the role of the “utopian pedagogue” to explore how utopian thinking can be developed within contemporary higher education institutions. In defending a utopian orientation on the part of HE lecturers, we develop the notion of “minimal utopianism”; a notion which, we suggest, expresses the difficult position of critical educators concerned to offer their students the tools with which to imagine and explore alternatives to current social and political reality, while acknowledging the contingent ethical constraints of the system within which they and their students are working. While agreeing with utopian theorists such as Darren Webb who have defended the need for “blueprint utopias” in education in the face of the reduction of the idea of utopia to a purely process-oriented pedagogy, our focus here is on the prior educational task of providing the conceptual and communicative tools for utopian thinking to emerge. The collaborative nature of this paper is reflected in the interdisciplinary sources on which we draw in developing our ideas, including moral philosophy, literary theory, political philosophy, anarchist theory and utopian studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-297
Number of pages12
JournalEducational Philosophy and Theory
Issue number3
Early online date14 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2019


  • anarchism
  • assessment
  • higher education
  • pedagogy
  • Utopia

Cite this

Bojesen, E., & Suissa, J. (2019). Minimal Utopianism in the Classroom. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 51(3), 286-297.