Social Progress in and Through Education


Bearing in mind the educational expansion on the one side and rising levels of social inequality on the other, how can education foster progress for all? What are the key conditions for social progress in and through education and what are the most pressing policy challenges hindering such progress?

These challenging questions were addressed at a Symposium on “Social Progress in and Through Education” hosted by the Institute for Advanced Studies on Monday, 7th October.

The event was organised by the IHS research group In_Equality and Education (EQUI) and featured four keynote presentations by Mario Steiner (Institute for Advanced Studies), Justin Powell (University of Luxembourg), Aaron Benavot (University at Albany-State University of New York) and Stephanie Matseleng Allais (University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg). Taking the concept of social progress as a starting point, the speakers approached the topic of discussion from different perspectives. They presented both theoretical concepts and empirical examples and addressed a variety of pressing issues such as the development of inclusive education, the quality of education, the importance of the economic context, and issues of distributive justice.

The event was rounded off with a panel discussion of the international keynote speakers with Lorenz Lassnigg (Institute for Advanced Studies) to further discuss the potential of education as a driver of social progress. Two points were repeatedly highlighted: education is embedded in socio-cultural (and historical) contexts, which poses some challenges to cross-country comparative analysis and to the implementation of successful educational policies in different societal contexts; and the necessity of a broad concept for evaluating educational developments in terms of social progress.

We are particularly grateful for the audience’s active engagement throughout the afternoon – the participants of the symposium brought in their own perspectives from academics and practice and turned this event into an afternoon of lively discussions.


Stephanie Matseleng Allais' presentation (pdf)

Aaron Benavot's presentation (pdf)

Mario Steiner's presentation (pdf)

Justin Powell's presenation is only available on request.