Libertarian Education: Marginal Experiment or Instrument of Social Change?

This fourth event by Applied History Network will be held at MayDay Rooms, London EC4Y 1DH on Tuesday 19 April at 6.30pm until 8pm. The event is free of charge but registration is required. Please sign up on our Eventbrite page.

This time we will be focusing on ‘libertarian education’, which is based on principles such as non-hierarchical relationships, mutual-aid and personal responsibility. In the last century, these values inspired the foundation of radical/democratic schools and (anti)universities. They challenged the role of mainstream schools as ‘reproducers of authoritarian social structures’ and universities as ‘selectors of the ruling class’.

Recently, while the British education system has become increasingly subdued by free-market logic and bureaucratic procedures, parents and students have started expressing a growing interest in libertarian educational experiences. However, these still remain mostly marginal. What are the historical reasons for this? Is libertarian education possible within a neoliberal society after all? Can it help transform the status quo?

To start a debate on these and other questions, we have invited speakers who will provide different perspectives on libertarian education.



Judith Suissa – Reader in philosophy of education at Institute of Education UCL, London

Ian Cunningham – Chair of governors at Self Managed Learning College, Brighton

Jenny Aster – Former pupil at White Lion Street Free School, London

Alex Brown – Co-organiser of Antiuniversity Now!


Eventbrite: Register here

Website: Applied History Network


The Applied History Network is a group of PhD students and early career researchers committed to politically engaged history. We put on regular evening events in London which aim to apply an historical perspective to contemporary events and debates.

The event grew out of conversations started at the ‘what is radical history?’ conference at Birkbeck in March 2015. In an effort to carry on these important debates, we put on free events every two months in central London.


Image: A.S. Neill’s Summerhill School, Suffolk

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