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This PhD project will be conducted in the context of the “SMOOTH” EU project. Research will be oriented towards educational commons in the lines of the thought of scholars such as Ivan Illich or Paolo Freire. Through case studies and educational workshops, the potential of the educational commons to reverse inequalities in youth will be explored.

Research field: Public Administration
Supervisors: Vasileios Kostakis
Alexandros Pantazis
Availability: This position is available.
Offered by: School of Business and Governance
Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance
Application deadline:Applications are accepted between May 03, 2021 00:00 and May 31, 2021 23:59 (Europe/Zurich)


SMOOTH intends to introduce the emergent paradigm of the “commons” as an alternative value and action system in the field of education for children and young people. The project critically draws out the implications of the commons for refiguring education and social change in general, on a footing of equality, sharing, participation, caring, and freedom. The project will address social inclusion according to the “educational commons” and “peer to peer education”, which we want to study, if they can operate as a catalyst for reversing inequalities.

In particular, it proposes an innovative action research program with and by children to:

  • reverse inequalities faced by children from vulnerable social groups;
  • strengthen inter-cultural and inter-generational dialogue and social integration;
  • develop vital social and personal skills for the children and adults;
  • create smooth spaces of democratic citizenship and experimentation with new ways of thinking and doing on the basis of equality, collaboration, collective creativity, sharing, and caring;
  • build and foster community through differences.

Universities, research labs, municipalities, NGOs, museums, and youth organizations, in different countries will work interdisciplinary and interculturally together to achieve the above aims from the point of view of educational commons. Specifically, various case studies will be conducted in educational premises to reverse the existing inequalities and achieve an active social inclusion for vulnerable children and youth. In short, a cross-cutting, cross-disciplinary analysis about the role of educational commons must be seen as crucial to provide policymakers new, innovative, and more efficient tools for proposing new policies to better engage children and adults in developing a more secure and resilient economic, political and social model of Europe.

The PhD student will be expected to take up administrative work in the context of the project’s multiple pilot and outreach endeavors.

We offer:

  • 3-year PhD position in one of the largest, most internationalized and leading social science research centers in Estonia
  • Opportunities for conference visits, research stays and networking with globally leading universities and research centers in the fields of educational studies and the commons.

Applicants should fulfil the following requirements:

  • good command of Estonian
  • excellent command of English
  • MA degree or equivalent, preferrably in one or the intersection of the following areas: education/pedagogy, organisation studies, sociology, and/or technology studies
  • a particular focus on the commons, open-source technologies and peer-to-peer practices and relevant practical experience will be considered ideal

Additional requirements:

Applicants must submit a project proposal for their PhD work within the SMOOTH project (max. 2 pages) with the application. The proposal should include the applicant's motivation to engage with their topic and an action plan for data gathering and analysis.

Additional information:
For further information, please contact Prof Vasilis Kostakis (vasileios.kostakis@taltech.ee).