Conference 2024


Learning or not learning from experience: Psychosocial approaches to researching and experiential learning

Programme now available here

A joint conference of the Association for Psychosocial Studies and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society

17th-18th June 2024

St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, London TW1 4SX

Conference enquiries:


Registration information:

Call for papers

Psychosocial Studies is an inherently transdisciplinary field which encompasses the interplay between psychological, social and cultural experience. The forms of inquiry and modes of learning it tries to foster include a focus on the unconscious dynamics at work in these various domains. Psychosocial studies is informed by a body of theoretical work that draws on psychoanalysis, critical social theory, anglophone and continental philosophy and the arts and humanities. It has stimulated considerable innovation in research and practice methodologies and in learning and teaching. Experiential inquiry has often been at the heart of these developments, including biographical, narrative, visual and other sensory methods, and reflexive auto-ethnography. All this speaks to the first part of the title.

However, as new psychic and social borderlines blur fantasy and reality, confusion, insecurity and precarity are generated between actual and virtual worlds, and between materialities and imaginaries. The temptation to reach for simple and incontestable certainties leads to a range of beliefs and behaviours that narrow the potential for learning from others and our encounters with them. This is fertile ground for the polarisations of populism, the idealisations of celebrity culture, the excitements of disinformation and conspiracy and the comforts of the media echo chamber. At the same time the structures that contain and mediate are in disarray. Politics is said to be ‘broken’, welfare states are ‘unaffordable’, education systems ‘fail’ to prepare the young to live in a fragmented world that appears to be rapidly degrading its own habitat.  The gathering crises of climate breakdown and human displacement appear irresolvable amidst the social and political fragmentation that afflicts and divides whole populations and manifests in everyday relationships and social institutions as traumatic repetition, denial and disavowal. In that sense there is a real danger of repeating mistakes from the past and not learning from painful historical experiences, or of helplessness and hopelessness in the face of technological and socio-political change.

We welcome submissions from clinicians and practitioners as well as academics from different fields, arts, humanities and social/sciences, who may be working at the psychosocial edge and/or working with psychoanalytic and philosophical theories able to shed light on learning from experience.  We welcome submissions for experiential events and artistic productions.

In the face of problems of this severity what does learning from experience look like? What does it involve and what are the obstacles? What processes and methods will serve such learning? This conference will include paper presentations, workshops and an experiential strand which will be threaded throughout.

Its suggested sub-themes could include (but are not limited to)

  • Psychosocial approaches to digital culture
  • Climate emergency, environment and sustainability
  • Ageing societies
  • Colonial legacies, racism and migration
  • The evolving politics of gender
  • Political formations and discourses
  • Social memory and its erasure
  • Trauma and repetition
  • Experiential learning
  • Psychosocial methodsand methodologies
  • Psychosocial approaches to learning and teaching
  • Technosolutionism and medicalisation
  • Learning to live with problems
  • The de-humanization and pathologization of distress
  • Information overload: knowledge obstructing thinking
  • Mentalizing misery: working with reality
  • Institutional mindlessness

We really encourage in person attendance to create the community feel that comes from being together for social events, meals and coffee breaks, however there will also be provision for online participation for those who for their own health or the health of the planet would not wish to or would feel unsafe coming in person.

Conference organising committee

Jacob Johanssen (APS and APCS, St. Mary’s University)

Lynn Froggett (APS, University of Central Lancashire)

Lita Crociani-Windland (APS and APCS, University of the West of England)

Marilyn Charles (APCS, Austen Riggs Center)

David Jones (APS, The Open University)

Thi Gammon (King’s College London)

Nini Fang (University of Edinburgh)

Admin support: Nahiyan Rashid, Javeria Anwar, Melanie Gomes, Chelsea Persad, Heidi Ann Burke)