The 2006 Social Sciences Conference will feature plenary session addresses by some of the world's leading thinkers and innovators in the field, as well as numerous parallel presentations by researchers and practitioners.

Garden Conversation Sessions

Main speakers will make formal 30 minute presentations in the plenary sessions. They will also participate in 60 minute Garden Conversation sessions at the same time as the parallel sessions. The setting is a circle of chairs outdoors. These sessions are entirely unstructured—a chance to meet the plenary speaker and talk with them informally about the issues arising from their presentation.

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The Speakers

  • Chryssi Vitsilaki

  • Chryssi Vitsilaki is Dean of the School of Humanities at the University of the Aegean. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and research interests in the sociology of education and gender studies.

    Her books include School and Work (Athens, 2002) and The All-Day School (Athens 2002).

    She co-ordinates an innovative, mixed mode masters program at the University of the Aegean which examines workplace change, adult learning and gender.



  • Patrick Baert

  • Patrick Baert is University Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Cambridge University and Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge. He studied at the Universities of Brussels and Oxford. He works on social theory and philosophy of social science.

    His forthcoming book Philosophy of Social Science: Toward Pragmatism (Polity Press, 2005) explores the relevance of American Pragmatism for contemporary philosophy of social science. His pragmatist perspective explores how various types of social research aim at self-referential knowledge: rather than aiming to represent or predict an external realm, this type of research uses the encounter with difference to re-describe our own culture and to re-assess our own presuppositions. Examples of this research can be found in sociology, history, archaeology and anthropology.

    Patrick Baert’s previous publications include:
    Social Theory in the Twentieth Century (Polity Press, 1998); and
    Time, Self and Social Being (Ashgate, 1992).

    He is a member of the Executive Committee of the European Sociological Association and the Coordinator of the Social Theory Network of the same organisation. He held various visiting positions abroad; for instance, at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (as holder of ‘la Chaire Internationale Henri Janne’), the University of British Columbia, the Université de Paris IV Sorbonne and the Humboldt Universität Berlin.

  • Norma Burgess

  • Dr Norma J. Burgess lectures and conducts workshops nationally and internationally on leadership, self-management, success, goal setting, conflict management, professional image and self-esteem. Her workshops focus on self-knowledge, integrating and maintaining wholeness in life, family, and career using basic principles that work. Her methods and techniques are applicable to academia, corporations, and community organizations. Burgess holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Tennessee- Martin; a Master of Public Administration and Ph.D. in Sociology from North Carolina State University. She has also completed advanced leadership seminars at Bryn Mawr College, Cornell University and Kaleidoscope Leadership Institute: A National Forum for Diversity and Women of Color.

    Dr Burgess is Professor of Child and Family Studies in the College of Human Services and Health Professions at Syracuse University; Burgess is also Academic Co-Chair for the Bachelor of Professional Studies Program at University College of Syracuse University. A successful businesswoman, Burgess has been recognized nationally for her work. She is also a powerful motivational speaker with a sense of humor committed to sharing strategies for integrating work, family and success.


  • David Barton

  • David Barton is Professor of Language and Literacy in the Department of Linguistics at Lancaster University, England and Director of the Lancaster Literacy Research Centre which has a wide range of research and development projects, .

    His main publications have been concerned with rethinking the nature of literacy (e.g. Literacy, Blackwell, Second edition, in press), carrying out detailed studies of everyday literacies (Local Literacies, Routledge, 1998, co-author) and the relations of literacy and learning (Beyond Communities of Practice, Cambridge University Press, 2005 co-editor).

    Professor Barton's current interests include the changing nature of literacy in contemporary society; literacy and social justice; new research methodologies; the relation between adult learners' lives and their participation in learning.


  • Dr Marianne Coleman

  • Dr Marianne Coleman is a Reader in educational leadership and management and Assistant Dean of Research at the Institute of Education, University of London with a responsibility for the support of research and publications amongst colleagues. Previously a senior lecturer at the University of Leicester, her educational experience also includes working within an LEA and in comprehensive schools. Present teaching responsibilities include supervision of PhD and Ed D students and face to face teaching on an MA programme. In addition, she has recently developed and established an on-line distance-learning course for an MA in Applied Educational Leadership and Management, funded by the External Programme of the University of London.

    She is an experienced researcher and evaluator with major research interests in leadership in schools, particularly focussing on gender issues in relation to leadership. Her most recent work in this area has been funded by the National College for School Leadership. The funding was for two separate projects, a survey of head teachers and a gender audit of the programme ‘Leading from the Middle’. She has taken part in a number of research projects focussing on educational leadership and management in the UK, including: the management of autonomous schools; mentoring for new head teachers and the evaluation of an Education Action Zone.

    In addition, she has participated in comparative research projects with international partners on educational management in China, South Africa and Singapore. A research interest in practitioner research has arisen from her teaching and supervision at Masters and doctoral level and has led to further publications on the impact of practitioner research and an edited book on research methods for educational leadership and management.