GALA 10th annual conference: How can the liberal arts help a world in crisis?

Posted on May 29, 2024

We are delighted to share the provisional programme* for the 2024 Global Academy of Liberal Arts (GALA) annual conference which coincides with the 10-year anniversary of the GALA network, and will be hosted by the founding institution, Bath Spa University, England, during 13-15 September. In the light of the degree to which the world has changed over the past decade and the context in which we now find ourselves in, a world marked by global polarization, ecological crisis, and the rise of AI, placing humanity itself under threat worldwide, the theme of the conference is on How can the liberal arts help a world in crisis? The sub-themes of the conference include:  Environmental crisis, Art for Social Change,  Digital  Threats and Opportunities,  Indigenous Voices and Justice, and Power, Peace and Healing.   

The conference event is free to all staff and students who are from any of the partner institutions of the Global Academy of Liberal Arts. The in-person fee for staff from non-GALA partners will be £150, and for students from non-GALA partners, £100 (and free to non-GALA partners that wish to attend remotely).  

*please note the programme is subject to change. 

Pre-conference event

Thursday 12 September, 2024

6.15 –  7 pm Performance  

A Brazilian perspective of resisting through dance and songwriting. 
Written and directed by professor Alexandra Dias,  UFPel,  

Performed by Maria Falkembach UFPel  

BITCH, a dance spectacle 


Day 1 Friday 13 September, 2024  

Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution 

9 –10 am Plenary  

Introduction by Ian Gadd and Rebecca McGuire-Snieckus 

Roundtable by founding members of the Global Academy of Liberal Arts including Antonella Riem (Bodies Moving in Partnership, Udine University), Josh Goode (Historical Perspectives of Partnership, Claremont Graduate University), Claudia Egerer (GALA’s impact on forging international collaborations between scholars and students, Stockholm University) and John Strachan (Partnership in Evolution, Bath Spa University). 

10 – 11 am Session 1 (2 parallel sessions) 

Session 1: Art for Social Change   
Samuel Nyanchoga, CUEA, Kenya   Beyond the Books: Can Liberal Arts Education Nurture Responsible Citizenship in Kenya?  
Shilpa Das, National Institute of Design, India   How a Liberal Arts Programme sits in a Design Institute in India: Historical trajectories and Identity Politics
Session  1: Power, Peace and Healing   
Meg Pirie, Bath Spa University   The Creative Wellbeing Economy  
Wesley Beal, Lyon College, USA   Personal Transformation for a World in Crisis  


11 am – 12 Session 2 (2 parallel sessions) 

Session 2: Environmental Crisis  
Steven H. Corey, Columbia College Chicago, USA   Environmental Humanities as the New Liberal Arts  
Claudia Egerer, Stockholm University, Sweden   Thinking human-nonhuman relationships with a liberal arts perspective  


Session  2: Digital Threats and Opportunities  
Priya Thapa, Bath Spa University, England   Equipping students with digital literacy and creative problem-solving skills.  
Tina Rozsos, University College Roosevelt, Netherlands   Promoting data literacy across the liberal arts curriculum  


12 – 2 pm Break 

2 – 3.30 pm Session 3 Workshop (2 parallel sessions) 

Session 3 Workshop: Co-creating a week-long global festival of the humanities; jointly programmed with community, business and public policy.
Rebecca DiCorpo, Bath Spa University   More information to follow  


Session 3: Student Workshop   


3.30 – 5.30 Mayor’s Walk   

Bath is one of only two UNESCO World Heritage Cities in Europe. Come and find out why!  

Max. 55. You must sign up in advance for this event. More to follow. 


6- 7 pm – Reception  

Details TBC  


Day 2 Saturday 14 September, 2024 

Newton Park Campus,   

Bath Spa University
Note: transportation will be provided from the city centre 


8.30 – 9 am Tea/ Coffee  


9 -10am Keynote  

Professor Juliet Thondhlana 

UNESCO Chair in International Education and Development 


10 – 11 am Session 4 (2 parallel sessions) 

Session 4: Environmental Crisis   
Alessio Malcevschi, University of Parma, Italy   Living in the age of the polycrisis: how complex crises emerge and how humanities can confront them.  
Romanus Shivoro, University of Namibia, Namibia and Colinne Bartel  

 AC Innovation, Germany  

Assessing ESG Performance in the African Material Sector: A Quantitative Analysis of Key Indicators  


Session 4: Power, Peace and Healing  
Douglas Andrews, The University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa   An exploration of how school leaders navigate the possible tensions between the ‘ideals of inclusion’ and the ‘ideals of excellence: a CHAT perspective.  
Gavin James Bower, Bath Spa University   The Future of the Humanities: Crisis or Opportunity  


11 am- 12  Session 5 (2 parallel sessions) 


Session 5: Power, Peace and Healing   
Tanja Sakota, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa   Unveiling hidden memories: exploring the relevance of autoethnographic film for social change  
Sheku Ahmed Fofanah, Bath Spa University, England   A Framework for Building a Responsive Local Government System in Sierra Leone: Integrating Felt Needs Fulfilment Model with the Hybridity of Paramount Chiefs  


Session 5:  Digital Threats and Opportunities   
 Yara Gawrieh Ekmark, Stockholm University, Sweden   The Ecocritical Instapoet: Digital Media Ecofeminist Poetry  
Luca Cossettini, Udine University, Italy   For whom the algorithm tolls?  


12 – 2 pm Lunch & networking  


2 – 3.30 pm Session 6 (2 parallel sessions) 

Session 6 Panel: Liberal Arts Across Borders   
Joshua Goode, Professor of History and Cultural Studies, Claremont Graduate University,   This panel will address how the liberal arts can address the resurgence of borders. Underpinned by research on the impact of borders on the formation of the historical disciplines, museums and heritage ideas in the modern period, we will explore the lessons derived from international exchanges, both within and outside the GALA network, that have been particularly focused on museums dedicated to local and national histories. The focus of all three presentations is on how the liberal arts narrow a wide world by clarifying what real similarities and differences exist between places and how the comparison can help the creation of new transcultural approaches and experiences that transcend borders.  
David Sprott, Henry Y. Hwang Dean of the Drucker School of Management, Claremont Graduate University,  
Astrid Swenson, Professor of History and European Culture, Natalia Brazao-Cortas, PhD Candidate, Cultural Studies, Claremont Graduate University  


Session 6: Indigenous Voices and Justice  
Hayley Haynes-Rolando and Phethile Zitha, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa   The stories of a community-based intervention, collaboratively addressing the violence in a Johannesburg township high school in South Africa.  
Mattia Mantellato, Università degli studi di Enna “Kore”, Italy   Shaman Caliban: Shakespeare’s The Tempest as a Native/Indigenous Narrative to Rethink the Other and the World  
Zelealem Leyew Temesgen, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia   Little attention to crucial issues: Linguistic challenges and the Africa envisioned in the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063  


3.30– 4.30 pm Session 7 (2 parallel sessions) 

Session 7: Digital Threats and Opportunities   
Mahir Jibril Ahmed,  Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia   Techno-feudalism and its overshadowing effect on education  
Małgorzata Wójcik, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Poland   RESQL: A Digital Solution for Addressing Bullying and Cyberbullying in Schools  


Session  7: Art for Social Change    
Jennifer Clark, University of Adelaide, Australia   ‘Re-Dressed’: Using an artistic response to study historic collections in the Foundling Museum, London  
Alemtsehay Lemma Tadesse, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia   Invisible theatre for social change  


4.30 – 5pm Refreshments  


5 – 6 pm Session 8 (2 parallel sessions) 

Session  8: Power, Peace and Healing  
Obsu, Fiseha Moreda, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia   Interdisciplinary Approaches in the Liberal Arts: Bridging Gaps and Addressing Global Challenge  
Serra Hughes, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands   Communicating across social, cultural and political divides  


Session 8: Environmental Crisis  
Alem Sitot Getaneh, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia   Exploring Contemporary Trends of African Literature: Selfless Devotion for Socio-Political Transformation in Ben Okri’s Starbook and Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Wizard of the Crow  
Engdaye Mersha Weldemariam, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia   Repercussions of land use and land cover on natural ecosystems and socioeconomic systems.  


6.15 – 7 pm  Performance  

A Brazilian perspective of resisting through dance and songwriting. 
Written and performed by professor Leandro Maia, UFPel,  

Directed by Maria Falkembach (UFPel) 

The Stray Mongrel Dog: an autobiographical illusion, or Guaipeca 


7.30 – 10 pm Dinner 



Day 3: Sunday 15 September, 2024  

Locksbrook Campus,   

Bath Spa University
(Walking distance from city centre, bus route information and timetable to follow) 


9 – 9.30  am Tea/ Coffee  


9 .30– 10.30 am Session 9 (2 parallel sessions) 

Session 9: Environmental Crisis   
Diriba Muleta, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia   Climate change and biodiversity: the role of soil microbes in enhancing resistance of plants to diverse stressful conditions    
Abere Fenta Getie, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia   Heavy metal levels in water and sediment samples of Dire and Aba-samuel Reservoir Ethiopia  


Session 9: Art for Social Change     
Penny Hay, Bath Spa University, England   Forest of Imagination as an Aesthetic Imaginary  
Renzo Filinich Orozco, The University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa   Towards a possible future of Latin American Cosmotechnics  


10.30 – 11.30 am Session 10 (2 parallel sessions) 


Session 10: Environmental crisis    
Paul Reid-Bowen, Bath Spa University, England   Teaching in the Ruins: from collapsology to collapsosophy   
Renée van de Schaft, University of Utrecht, Netherlands   Between Human Guilt and Hopeful Shadowplaces: Purity, Chemosociality and Multispecies Relations in Ned Beauman’s Venomous Lumpsucker  


Session 10: Power, Peace and Healing   
Camilla Pontiggia The University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa   The Hi-Stories of whitenoisewhitegirl: Unravelling a Colonial Blueprint.  
Mohamed Mahid Shareef,  Maldives Anti-Doping Association, Maldives   Understanding Leadership Role in Local Councils for Effective Service Delivery: A Staff-Centric Approach  


11.30 am – 12.30 Session 11 (2 parallel sessions) 

Session 11: Environmental Crisis   
Sarah Hayes, Bath Spa University, England   Postdigital Citizen Science and Humanities: how do citizen researchers understand their roles and contributions towards helping a world in crisis?  
Shimelis Gizachew Desalegn, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia   Sustainable supply chain management in the agricultural sector in Ethiopia  


Session 11: Power, Peace and Healing   
Richie Daly, Concordia University, Canada   A Blackened Atlantic Poethics – Strandings, the Sea and Trinidad and Tobago  
Johannes Machinya, University of the Witwatersrad, South Africa   mHealth Applications in South Africa: The Power and Pitfalls of User Data Marketisation  


12.30 – 1.30  pm Lunch  


1.30 – 2.30  pm  Session 12 ((2 parallel sessions) 

Session 12: Art for Social Change   
Amanda Bayley Bath Spa University and the University of Namibia   Transforming Lives through Ethnomusicological Engagement in Kwando, Namibia  
Leandro Ernesto Maia, Bruna Oliveira and Maria Fonseca Falkembach, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Brazil   Cultural Policies as Social Change: from dance mapping towards arts policies  


Session  12: Power, Peace and Healing   
Anusia Govender-Elshove, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa   The Silent Dancers  
Aklilu Dessalegn Zewdu, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia   South African post-apartheid literature: shaping a better future for the next generation of South Africans  


2.30 – 3.30 Plenary Conclusion & Next steps 


We recommend three hotels that are located in the Bath city centre 

Travelodge, Waterside, Bath 

Explore the historic city of Bath with an affordable stay at the Travelodge Bath Waterside hotel, close to the Roman Baths and the Jane Austen Centre 

Holiday Inn, Bath 

Holiday Inn Express Bath is a 15-minute walk from the magnificent Roman centre of Bath, a World Heritage city. Free WiFi is available throughout. 

DoubleTree by Hilton Bath 

Set on the banks of River Avon, we’re half a mile from Thermae Bath Spa, The Roman Baths, and great shopping. 


About the  Global Academy of Liberal Arts 

The Global Academy of Liberal Arts is an international community of diverse, innovative, and socially responsible universities and colleges, transforming lives and enhancing global understanding through interdisciplinary collaboration in teaching and research. With 17 partners in 13 countries, it is a truly global network.   


About Bath Spa University   

GALA was established in 2014 by Bath Spa University, a creative, innovative and enterprising University in the South West of England. With nine dedicated research areas, nearly 60% of research was ranked in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework as ‘internationally excellent’ or ‘world leading.’, 

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