The Educational Theory Institute

The journal Educational Theory and the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, are pleased to announce a call for proposals for the 2017 Educational Theory Institute (ETI).

Each year, we commission a group of scholars to offer a fresh theoretical examination of a question of educational policy and practice, bringing them to campus for a three-day institute, featuring an opportunity to workshop their papers and participate in a public conference. The papers are then revised to form a special issue of Educational Theory. We have just concluded a successful institute on “Ecologizing Education” and are looking forward to the publication of a special issue on this theme.

Scholars in educational philosophy and theory from around the world are invited to submit proposals for the next Institute to be held in Champaign-Urbana in the fall of 2017.

The journal will cover participants’ travel and lodging expenses and will provide meals throughout the event. We hope that this Institute serves as a valuable opportunity for scholars to collaborate with each other and to interact with faculty and students from the University of Illinois, as well as neighboring institutions.

Groups of scholars who are interested in participating should submit a prospectus for a project, which will be evaluated by University of Illinois faculty and, where appropriate, invited outside experts. The project that is selected will normally comprise 5–7 paper proposals (depending on the length of the papers; see below). Draft versions of these papers will need to be completed before the Institute, so that colleagues at Illinois and other participants can review the materials before the invited scholars arrive.

The Institute begins with two days of closed sessions in which invited scholars and a very small number of University of Illinois colleagues discuss the papers in a workshop format, providing critical and constructive feedback, considering the papers in relation to each other, and discussing how best to craft the set of papers as a collection for a special issue of Educational Theory. The Institute concludes with a public conference in the College of Education, featuring panels with ETI participants and area scholars as respondents. The conference gives the participants an opportunity to ensure that the papers and the issue as a whole speak to a broad audience of educators and education scholars from various disciplines.

We believe that the Institute will be of great benefit to the invitees, to receive feedback on their work, to work with each other, and to get a chance to interact with University of Illinois colleagues. The result, we expect, will be a set of papers that are of high quality and more closely integrated with each other than is typical of most edited collections. Separate publication as a book may be a possibility.


We want to keep the scope of possible submissions broad, but any submission should relate philosophical and/or theoretical perspectives to a prevailing issue of educational research, policy, or practice. This does not mean that only narrowly “applied” work will be considered. But the evaluation of the proposals will bear upon not only the quality of the papers as scholarly pieces; the salience and timeliness of the issues addressed will also be an important factor.

Length of Papers

Workshop drafts should range in length from 5,000 to 6,000 words, but final versions for publication shall not exceed 7,500 words, including notes.


Proposals are due by February 1, 2017. Please submit your prospectus by email to Applicants will be notified of the selection committee’s decision on February 24, 2017.

Application Process

Interested participants should submit the following materials:

(1) an overall description and rationale for the collection, roughly 1,000 words, which highlights the significance and potential impact of the project;

(2) a list of the authors, with brief bios, and titles of the proposed papers along with an abstract of 750 words for each paper, and an estimated word length for each paper;

(3) a letter from each participant promising that if the project is selected they will complete and submit a workshop draft of their paper two weeks before the event, they will commit to attending the full three-day Institute at Illinois, and they will agree to have their final paper published by Educational Theory as part of the symposium.

(4) recommended dates for the Institute: Please indicate three days, between September 15 and October 31, during which all participating authors could attend the on-campus in-person sessions. The three-day period can include weekend days as well as weekdays, but the third day, which is the day of the public conference, must be on a weekday. For example, two workshop days could span Saturday and Sunday, with the public conference on Monday.


Co-authored papers are acceptable, but in such cases it may be necessary to designate one representative for on-site participation. Students, writing individually or as co-authors with other contributors, are not excluded from eligibility. Submissions that include international scholars are welcomed. Previous applicants are eligible to revise and resubmit earlier proposals, without prejudice.

Direct any questions to the Editor of Educational Theory, Chris Higgins (

Educational Theory is committed to bringing philosophical scholarship in education to a broader audience of educators, policymakers, and concerned citizens.

The Educational Theory Institute was established to foster new theoretical perspectives on timely questions of educational policy and practice. It brings leading scholars to the University of Illinois to collaborate on a special issue of Educational Theory and, along with area scholars, to participate in a public conference.

The Institute alternates between open calls for proposals and invited cohorts. We have held five successful institutes to date (click on the links below for more information):

State Intervention and the Regulation of Parenting (2009)
What Makes a Public School Public? (2010) [invited]
Plural Societies and the Possibility of a Shared Civic Vision (2011)
Sex Education and Value Conflict in the Liberal State (2012)
Humane Education: Recovering the Humanistic Dimensions of Teaching, Learning & Research (2014) [invited]
Technologies of Reading and Writing (2015)
Ecologizing Education: Philosophy, Place, and Possibility (2016) [invited]


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