The Research in Critical Education Studies (RiCES) group promotes the development of rigorous, critical and socially engaged research for education. We concentrate on understanding how educational practices, institutions and phenomena are related to the reproduction of social inequalities and injustices – and how they contribute to challenging and overcoming them. Our members have a special interest in bringing critical theory, social research and educational practice to bear on one another in the creation of really useful knowledge for teachers, students, theorists, activists, educational policymakers and all those passionate about knowledge, learning and educational and social justice.

We welcome contact from anyone inside or outside the academy who shares a common interest in this work. Please get in touch!


This group works to:

support and inspire critical inquiry into education and problems affecting education throughout society;

advance theoretical, empirical and practical research in the areas of critical pedagogy and curriculum; critical theory of education; and the philosophy, psychology and sociology of knowledge, social justice and social change;

further the development and application of critical theory at all levels of educational practice, teacher education and policy development;

design creative approaches to co-operative work with academic and non-academic partners in a variety of contexts to produce knowledge for critical practice;

create space for public and professional dialogue, and access to resources for educators and all those interested in education; and

educate and mentor new generations of scholars in critical education studies.

RiCES Members

Ms. Hadiza Abdulrahman

My name is Hadiza Kere Abdulrahman. I am a final-year PhD student researching the Almajiranci system of Northern Nigeria – an alternative Islamic system of education that sees young boys sent off to study the Qur’an and live with a teacher. The system has become increasingly subject to various dominant narratives, highly politicised and much maligned over the years because it often comes with many social problems – many of the boys are often at the mercy of the streets. I am trying to understand the practice from the perspectives of those involved, especially the men who have gone through the system – the products of Almajiranci. I am also interested in the ways that postcolonialism has had an effect on shaping the narratives which describe the system as well as the hidden curriculum which exists in a system that is this old. The other questions my research asks include: “what is ‘valued’ knowledge?” as well as “who says what ‘valued’ knowledge is and should be?” My research also aims to challenge the dominant narratives which surround Almajiranci. My other interests include a small school called “Funhouse” which I co-own in Minna, Northern Nigeria that puts ‘fun’ back into teaching and learning. I also own a budding consultancy practice called “Learning Links” which aims to have ‘knowledge-sharing’ at the heart of its practice. I am a passionate educationist and a diligent student of life. My eyes are always open to new ways of teaching and learning and how they can be adapted across cultures and contexts. / www.funhouseprepschool.com / @dj_kere

Dr. Sarah Amsler

My research, which sits at the intersections of sociology, critical theory and educational studies, focuses on the politics of culture, particularly the role that knowledge and cultural practices play in what Pierre Bourdieu called the ‘social conditions of possibility’ for dignity, justice and life. I am interested in three questions. First, how does the political and economic organisation of cultural work, particularly in education and art, impact upon the nature and possibility of transformative social action, specifically in contexts of authoritarian and capitalist hegemony? Second, how do cultural practices work to open democratic and emancipatory political forms and possibilities, and to close them down? Most importantly, what roles do different forms of learning play in these processes? I have studied these questions in different contexts, including public history and museums in the United States, higher education reform in post-socialist Central Asia, and formal and informal education institutions in the UK and globally. Theoretically, this work weaves its way through debates around critical philosophies of possibility and ‘hope’, utopian epistemologies, methodologies of ‘absence and emergence’, prefigurative politics, psycho-social and affective theories of power and transformation, and various articulations of the relationship between aesthetics, politics and pedagogy. My current work has a dual focus: first to understand the epistemologies, affective regimes, institutional forms and practices that diminish possibility-enabling learning and knowledge production; and second, to inform the creation of frameworks and spaces within which it can take place.

Mr. Daniel Bishop

DAniel BishopI am currently completing a doctoral thesis entitled Conceptualising the Student-University Relationship Within a UK Higher Education Institute. Student voice in HE has the potential to empower students to influence change and improve the collective teaching and learning experience; working to counter the use of student voice as a mechanism to satisfy a marketised sector. To achieve this goal requires a shift in practices, challenging the traditional modes of working that define the student-university relationship and underpin the power dynamics at play within an institution. The aim of this doctoral research project is to conceptualise and discursively construct the student-university relationship within a UK-based institute that promotes the involvement of students in the institutions governance models and policies, examining the: nature and extent of student voice; impact of student voice on decision-making in institutional governance; and the power relations at play between the institution, staff and students.

Prof. Mike Neary

I became Professor of Sociology in the School of Political and Social Sciences in 2014. Before that I was the Dean of Teaching and Learning at the University of Lincoln from 2007 – 14, Head of the Centre for Educational Research and Development 2007 – 2012 and Director of the Graduate School 2011 – 2014.  Prior to taking up my appointment at Lincoln I taught Political Sociology at the University of Warwick 1993 – 2007. Before becoming an academic I worked in youth development and community education in South London 1979 – 1993. I was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy in 2007.  The Students’ Union at Lincoln granted me life membership of Lincoln University Students’ Union in 2014 for my work with students. I am a founding member of the Social Science Centre, Lincoln, a co-operative providing free public higher education.

Ms. Jane Trowell 

Jane Trowell

I am an art teacher and lecturer who has also taught on PGCE courses in Art & Design. Alongside this, for twenty-five years I’ve worked with arts activist group ‘Platform‘ which campaigns for social justice. My doctoral research is into how colonial practices of racism, sexism and classism operate within arts educators with the effect of oppressing those learners of non-white and non-middle-class backgrounds. How does our work perpetuate the dominance of white and middle-class people in the arts, and maintain European-centred culture as superior to others? I am investigating methods of peer research through which we educators, especially those of us who are white, might confront the ‘logic of coloniality’ in our practices for social justice, such that a lasting ‘project of decolonization’ of ourselves, our field, and wider society can be catalyzed. My title is “’Real, honest colleagues?’ White Arts Educators Committed to Social Justice Confront Coloniality in our Practices.” I am working with Cynthia Dillard’s concept of ‘endarkened feminist epistemologies’ (Dillard, 2000), Walter Mignolo and Ramon Grosfoguel on coloniality and the ‘project of decolonization’ (Mignolo in Maldonado-Torres, 2011, 6; Grosfoguel, 2007, 220), Sara Ahmed on ‘progressive racism’ (2016), and George Yancy on being ‘a white problem’ (2015).

Dr. Joss Winn

My current research began with an interest in the role of technology in higher education. It now extends more broadly to a critique of the political economy of higher education. As such, my writing and teaching is now focused on the history and political economy of science and technology in higher education, its affordances for and impact on academic labour, and the way by which academics can control the means of knowledge production through co-operative and ultimately post-capitalist forms of work and democracy. This work contributes to a number of contemporary themes in higher education, such as open education, academic identity, value critique, and alternative education.

RiCES Friends

Prof. Richard Hall

Richard HallRichard Hall works at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK, where he is the Co-Director of our Institute for Education Futures. Richard is also a Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellow, and a Professor of Education and Technology. His research interests include (1) the idea of the University and radical alternatives to it; (2) the place of co-operative practice and mass intellectuality in overcoming disruption in higher education; (3) the University and the Triple Crunch (of socio-environmental crisis, energy availability, and the secular crisis of capitalism); (4) technology and critical social theory.