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Theorising young people's aspirations in a global context: an interdisciplinary conference

At the end of last term (26-27 March), Nicola Ansell and Peggy Froerer from the Department of Social and Political Sciences / Welfare, Health and Wellbeing theme, along with colleagues from their research team, hosted an interdisciplinary conference to explore new ways of theorizing young people’s aspirations. Fifty-eight academics from institutions across Europe, Asia and North America and from disciplines including anthropology, human geography, psychology and English literature, were brought together to discuss the conceptual challenges posed by the growing pressures on young people worldwide to aspire to better futures. Despite burgeoning research on aspiration, its theorization has remained rather limited. The conference set out to advance conceptual understanding of how young people form, experience and deploy aspiration; the global institutions and processes that shape young people’s aspirations; and the outcomes of aspiration for young people and wider society. The presentations and discussion across disciplinary boundaries were thought provoking and productive. One contributor commented: “I have never been more excited about a conference theme — and I have learned so much from the papers, discussions and chats with you and the other participants! Even the food was great!”