Keynote speakers

Professor Kenneth J. Gergen (USA)

Keynote l

Relational Based Education: From Edges that Cut to the Cutting Edge

School systems of today are deeply divisive, both in the classroom and in their effects on society. Exclusion and alienation can largely be tied to two longstanding assumptions: that schools can function like well planned machine systems, and these systems are made up of individual participants. Such assumptions are challenged by the emerging appreciate the relational origins of knowledge, values, and human well-being. With these challenges new and exciting vistas of education emerge.


Professor Kenneth J. Gergen. is a founding member, President of the Taos Institute and Chair of the Board, and the Mustin Professor of Psychology at Swarthmore College. He has served as president of two divisions of the American Psychological Association, and the Associate Editor of both the American Psychologist, and Theory and Psychology. Gergen has been a major contributor to social constructionist theory and organizational change practices. Among his major works are Realities and relationships, soundings in social construction; The Saturated Self; An invitation to social construction; An Invitation to Social Construction; and most recently, Relational being, beyond self and community. Gergen’s work has received numerous awards, including fellowships, foundation awards, and honorary degrees in both Europe and the U.S.

Dr. Larry Espe (CA)

Keynote II

Co-creating Optimal Learning Experiences for ALL Students

Public education will require a dramatic shift in "business as usual" if it hopes to keep up with the needs of the 21st century. This presentation will respectfully question traditional educational practices and structures, as well as emphasize the need for a system which provides for more than just those students who are "good at school". It will suggest that teams of educators, parents and community members have the capacity to co-create optimal learning opportunities for ALL students. Examples of inclusive interdisciplinary learning experiences that are hands-on, engaging, and authentic will be shared.


Dr. Larry Espe  is a former superintendent of a school district located in northeastern British Columbia, Canada. He has been a teacher, principal and district administrator for over thirty years, and he recently served as the province’s Superintendent of Careers and Student Transitions. His focus has been on curricular transformation at the provincial level and the co-creation of authentic learning experiences for ALL students. He will discuss how interdisciplinary and community based learning opportunities, long considered ‘alternative’, will engage and include students in ways that traditional (“sit and get”) curriculum has not. Current systemic structures act as barriers to possibility and creativity for both students and teachers. These structures will be respectfully questioned.

Director Ingebjørg Mæland (NO)

Keynote lll

Youth Invest: The Learning Journey of a School for Drop Outs (or as we like to call them, wonderful youth)

For over a decade my colleagues, my students, and I have worked together to create a school that could fulfill the needs of youth who did not find a congenial home in the local public schools. Drawing from resources in social constructionism, appreciative inquiry, and positive psychology, this school now captures the interest of educators far and wide. Our hope is to demonstrate why our students say, “All schools should be like this.”


Ingebjørg Mæland uses Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and strength-based tools on young students in Norway with very good outcomes. Mæland is head of the the school UngInvest AIB (former Arbeidsinsituttet i Buskerud) for youth between age 16 and 24, and have worked with youth since late 1970.

Ingebjørg Mæland has a broad field of experience working with youth from late 1970, ranging from youth in the Criminal Justice system to Child and Adolescent Psychiatric services to Outreaching services for drug users, into consulting the District County office of Education on special needs education.