Symposium: Motivational Psychology in Educational Settings


Image courtesy of wodleywonderworks,

On 20th July 2013, staff at the Greenwich Free School hosted a symposium on ‘Motivational Psychology in Educational Settings’, which put psychologists, anthropologists and educational practitioners into dialogue to evaluate current thinking in the field of motivational psychology, and to explore possible agendas for future research in this field.

The event was a great success, and we would like to thank GFS for hosting us, and the ESRC for their financial support of the event.

Podcasts of the presentations and the ensuing discussions are available by clicking on the links below. Please feel free to leave comments on this blog if you’d like to join the debate!


Motivational Psychology in Educational Settings

 A Symposium

 20th July, 14:00- 17:30 – Greenwich Free School, 403 Shooters Hill Rd, London


Supported by the Economic and Social Research Council



How imagining a positive future shapes motivation and                                                 behaviour (podcast   |  slides)

Heather Kappes, Department of  Management, LSE


Craftingpassionate’ pupils in a North London secondary                                                 school (no podcast available)

Leah Schabas, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University


Putting motivational psychology into practice (podcast)

Sarah Jones, Greenwich Free School


Cross-cultural perspectives on motivational psychology (podcast)

Nick Long, Department of Anthropology, LSE

| 1 Comment

ESRC award for ‘The Social Life of Achievement and Competitiveness in Indonesia and Vietnam’


The UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has  awarded £99,573 to two social anthropologists, Dr Susan Bayly and Dr Nicholas Long, to conduct research on ‘The Social Life of Achievement and Competiveness in Vietnam and Indonesia’.

This project, which will run until October 2013, will investigate the changing ways in which Indonesian and Vietnamese individuals of divergent backgrounds and experience have understood the idea of ‘achievement’ over the course of their lives. What conceptualisations of achievement have been historically significant in both Vietnam

and Indonesia? What conceptions of ‘achievement’ are emerging today – in a world where global performance indicators, such as the UNDP’s ‘Human Development Index’, measure the attainment, capacities, and ‘global competitiveness’ of whole populations and nation-states? In what ways might these ideas be contested, or countered through innovative new deployments of what it might mean to ‘achieve’? And what is the significance of these shifts for the lived experience of ‘achieving’?

Based in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi and Indonesia’s borderland province of Kepri, the project will focus on the experiences of four particular groups: policy makers, who are devising strategies to increase achievement orientation and levels of attainment within their populations; teachers and pupils at high-profile ‘achievement schools’ which have been indicated as the birthplace of a more globally competitive generation; export workers, who have historically contributed to each nation’s economic growth but are now frequently being reclassified as ‘unskilled’; and religious and ritual professionals, who are variously seen as operating in a domain that lies outside parameters of ‘achievement’ or touted as a valuable ‘export commodity’ sporting unique forms of human capital such as psychic abilities.

Further details are available here.

| Leave a comment

Wenner-Gren workshop is a great success

At the end of September, our network hosted its inaugural event – a workshop bringing together experts from anthropology, psychology, film studies, history and the humanities to think creatively about ‘The Social Life of Achievement’.

Presentation topics ranged from the pleasures and pains of success and failure in middle class high schools,  animal behaviour research, and Buddhist self-cultivation through to cutting-edge research on how everyday life and language moulds understandings of achievement.

A summary of the workshop will be posted in due course – keep watching this space! In the meantime, enjoy the photos!



| Leave a comment

Panel accepted for AAS/ICAS Conference in Hawaii

The Social Life of Achievement will be out in force at next year’s joint conference of the Association for Asian Studies and the International Convention of Asia Scholars. Held in Honolulu, from March 30th – April 3rd 2011, the conference will feature over 400 panels devoted to all areas of Asian Studies, including our very own session: Emergent notions of “achievement” in Asia: causes and consequences.

If you’re passing through, please drop in and say ‘Aloha!’. In the meantime, you can find out more by going to our AAS/ICAS page.

[N.B. Image sourced from

| Leave a comment

AAA Venue confirmed

The venue for our AAA session has been confirmed as Balcony N, Fourth Floor, Marriott. Do be sure to pop in and see us – we’re session number 2-0860.

If you’re going to the meetings you can note our panel down in the AAA’s online itinerary builder. Would be great to see you!

| Leave a comment

Panel accepted for the AAA Annual Meeting

Our proposal to stage a double panel on ‘The Social Life of Achievement’ at the Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association in New Orleans has been accepted!

The session will start at 13:45 on Thursday 18th November 2010, finishing at 17:30. Anyone in the audience who would like to join us for further discussion over drinks or dinner afterwards is more than welcome. We are still waiting to hear where the panel will be staged, and exact timings of papers, but a provisional timetable is up here.

Thanks to the organisers at the AAA, and especially to the reviewers from our sponsoring section (Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness)

Hope to see you there!

Posted in Events

Wenner-Gren Workshop scheduled for 29th September 2010

Thanks to the generosity of the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge will be running a workshop dedicated to ‘The Social Life of Achievement’ from 29th September to 2nd October. This will bring together scholars from anthropology, psychology, psychoanalytic theory, film studies, management studies, and the history of education to discuss the value of exploring achievement’s ‘social life’. More information can be found here.

We regret that this is a closed workshop, so members of the public cannot attend regular sessions. However, we plan to hold some public events associated with the workshop: watch this space!

Posted in Events