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We, men and women, are built in the contradictions of historical reality. Our ideas are forged, constituted in the material, social, historical, and cultural practice of society. This does not mean that, because my thinking is influenced by reality, I cannot transform this reality that conditions my way of thinking.
-Paulo Freire – Pedagogy of Commitment
In the surreal global scenario of a pandemic still evolving, the rise of economic inequalities, social exclusion, racism, sexism evidence the presence of other pandemics woven throughout the history of neoliberalism and forcefully reveal the atrocities that continue to spread its virus and produce its victims.
As a result, we witness the intensification of alienation and indifference concerning the essential issues that guarantee life on the planet. Therefore, it is urgent to revive our ethical commitment to human life and dignity. How to challenge a selfish neoliberal ideology and its financial gluttony that puts economic health above people's health? Is it possible to think of education as a practice of freedom under the siege of surveillance and exploitation of personal and collective data? How to think of educational spaces (face-to-face, virtual, hybrid) created in the shadow of the pandemic as creative spaces that critically educate their citizens? How can we preserve the importance of the conscientization process to think about education in this challenging context and critically reflect on what we do, how we do it, why we do it and for whom we do it?
What kind of alliances and solidarity do spaces committed to change demand? Are these spaces capable of understanding and clarifying the meanings of critical and radical actions that must be present in emancipatory education?
The Cátedra Paulo Freire Conference 2022 is an invitation to those who yearn for a more humane and ethical world to face the current forces that try to numb and immobilize us and, in a spirit of resistance, to commit to life, to the ethics and beauty that Freire aspired so much.
Dr. Débora Junker
Director of the Hispanic-Latinx Center and
Founder of the Cátedra Paulo Freire at Garrett-Evangelical