Academic Profile

My recent writing and scholarly activity revolves around two main areas of academic interest: contemporary philosophy (critical theory, poststructuralism, hermeneutics, and analytic philosophy) with a particular interest in philosophy of education, and; the politics of education and social policy, with an accent on the reform of welfare policy.

The two areas of interest inform each other.In the first category I want to develop a distinctive poststructuralist approach in philosophy and education. The deepest influences upon my thinking and writing include Friedrich Nietzsche, the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, and the French poststructuralist philosopher, Jean-François Lyotard.

These philosophers teach us how to think or philosophize in the postmodern condition, in an age when the grand récits or metanarratives have lost their legitimating power. They provide a positive philosophical response to nihilism and to the fragmentation and dissolution of culture. For these thinkers also the question of the style of philosophy is paramount and it is productive to approach their philosophies as a kind of writing.

Both Nietzsche and Wittgenstein adopt many different literary forms, sometimes within the same work. Beyond Good and Evil ends with the aftersong “From High Mountains” and it includes epigrams and interludes; the Philosophical Investigations is at once dialogical, confessional, and aphoristic.

My publications reflect the influence of these writers. Education and the Postmodern Condition and Poststructuralism, Politics and Education, among other things, examine the work of Lyotard, while Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Postmodernism and Pedagogy, a co-authored book (with James Marshall) attempts to bridge the continental/analytic divide by interpreting the work of Anglo-American Wittgensteinians (eg., Richard Rorty, Stanley Cavell, Stephen Toulmin) alongside that of prominent ‘poststructuralist’ thinkers (eg., Lyotard, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida).

In recent years I have focused on political economy of forms of the knowledge economy with the aim of expanding the understanding of current and future possibilities based around concepts of inniovation and the learning economy, creative economy, and the open knowledge economy (based on open education and open science).

Starting in 2006 with the book “Building Knowledge Cultures” (with Tina Besley), a trilogy of books with Simon Marginson and Peter Murphy on creativity and the global knowledge economy, education and the creative economy (with Daniel Araya), digital labor and the cognitive economy (with Ergin Bulut), and creative universities (with Tina Besley)I have begun to chart a theory of co(labor)ation informed by three aspects: social media, social production and social labor.

My motivation to write is strongly shaped by contemporary political considerations and by what it means to be ‘an intellectual’. As an academic writer I am a circuit for the confluence of events, forces and intellectual fashion. In this regard I am interested in sketching a philosophical (poststructuralist) critique of neo-liberalism against the transformed environment advanced liberal socieites referred to as the ‘information economy’ and within the context of the modernity/postmodernity debate.

This direction has characterized a number of my recent books and contributions to books (for instance, my contributions to Counternarratives which examines cultural studies and critical pedagogies in postmodern spaces).

In the second category I look to the development of a distinctive approach to the politics of education and social policy. To this end Individualism and Community: Education and Social Policy in the Postmodern Condition, a co-authored work (with James Marshall) interprets the changes in political philosophy that have occurred in western capitalist states since the early 1980s and focuses upon the New Zealand ‘experiment’.

The writing process is for me very much part of the routine of everyday university life. It is a cultural habit configured by the institutional demands of the university that favours certain forms or genres of writing (the essay, the thesis, the journal article, the dissertation) and pedagogy (the lecture, the seminar, the examination), while excluding others.

In this sense the various formats for academic writing is largely determined by traditions of the academic community and while creative thinking might be encouraged in this environment, one engages in ‘creative’ academic writing at some risk.


Honorary doctorates

SUNY – State University of New York (2012)
“We at SUNY Empire State College believe Dr. Michael Peters is very deserving of the title of Doctor of Letters,” said Davis. “His commitment to social justice and educational policy, and the depth and breadth of his scholarship align perfectly with both Empire State College and the State University of New York’s mission and purpose. Professor Peters is a visionary whose ideas expand our understanding of teaching and learning and of open education in all its forms.”

“It’s a great honor for me to be awarded a Doctor of Letters from SUNY Empire State College, a public institution committed to the community of nontraditional adult learners and the principles of critical inquiry, democracy, sustainability and social justice that epitomize the open university in the 21st century,” said Peters. “I am absolutely delighted to receive this honorary degree in the name of ‘open education’ and I would like to herald the work, passion and commitment of individual faculty, mentors and administrators who, working collaboratively and in partnership, make possible a new vision of education based on genuine innovation, flexibility and alternative approaches to higher education to empower and transform learners. In times of economic survival, such openness stands for new ways of revitalizing and enhancing the public status of our institutions, knowledge and learning as global public goods, and for connecting purposively with the lives of its students.”

The resolution was recommended to the Board by Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher after a rigorous process that begins at the campus, moves to a system-wide committee of faculty, staff, SUNY Trustees, then to the chancellor and finally to the full Board of Trustees.


TED TALK: The Evolution of Truth



Philosophy of Education Expert, Michael A. Peters
Educational Philosophy and Theory: Incorporating ACCESS
Education Arena Expert Panel 2014

I completed my PhD on Wittgenstein in 1984. Ever since I have been working through the consequences of his thought for educational theory and practice. Ludwig Wittgenstein is considered by many to be one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century. His work in the philosophy of logic, mathematics, mind and language, established him as the founder of two movements: logical empiricism (the Vienna Circle) and Oxford-style ordinary language analysis.

The impact of his work has been felt in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, and strongly influenced the directions of both analytic and post-analytical philosophy. His work is difficult to read and interpret and there are many competing interpretations of his philosophy.

Read the Full Introduction
Expert Articles
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Education Arena – Routledge & Taylor & Francis
Expert Interview

Video Interview

Michael A. Peters: Editor-in-Chief: Open Review of Educational Research

University of Aalborg (Denmark) 2015


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Distinguished Professor,
Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University

Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research
Policy, Cultural and Social Studies in Education
University of Waikato, New Zealand

Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Adjunct Professor,
Communication Studies, Auckland University of Technology

Educational Studies, University of Glasgow, 2004-2005

Adjunct Professor,
School of Education, University of Auckland, 2003-2005

Research Professor,
Educational Studies, University of Glasgow, 2000-2003

School of Education, University of Auckland, New Zealand, 2000-2003