The 4th European Summer School in Process Thought of the European Society for Process Thought took place in Sofia, Bulgaria from August 1st-6th 2016. Host and organizer the conference was Prof. DSc. Vesselin Petrov, vice director of the Institute for the Studies of Societies an Knowledge at the Bulgarian Academy of Science and executive director of the International Process Network. The Philosophy Department at the University St. Kliment Ohridski kindly provided the beautiful, historical conference room of the university council, in which the conference took place.
The tight schedule from Monday morning till Friday afternoon and the (necessarily consistent) moderation of Vesselin Petrov allowed a total of five lectures, five seminars and 13 presentations to be held. The lectures, which would start every day with an extended presentation were held by Maria-Teresa Teixeira, Marcus Ford, Michel Weber, Helmut Maassen and Franz Riffert. Overall the presenters represented an international assemble of universities from – in order of appearance – Portugal, UK, Poland, Bulgaria, USA, Germany, Belgium, Ukraine to Austria.
Whilst the superordinate topic of this conference was the application of Process Thought to the field of Education, the approaches which were presented offered a wide variety of different emphases and foci, ever enriching the issue in question from different perspectives. Amongst the variety of presentations, recurring sub-topics ranged from metaphysical and ontological investigations via more general perspectives on education and the role of aesthetics to empirical question of teaching and learning in accordance with process thought.
The group of the conference participants due to the common schedule and the shared meals soon was acquainted with each another, which led to interesting and ever changing conversation topics and partners through out the week. With the number fluctuating around twenty it was possible to share thoughts and ideas with everyone at some point of the week. The discussions after the presentations as well as during breaks were especially rich, due to the big range of age and level of academic experience, hence there was – to speak with Whitehead – enough ‘freshness of living‘ from younger scholars balancing out the ‘order and precision’ emerging from decades of experience.
The conference also contained room for a member’s meeting of the European Society for Process Thought, in which Helmut Maaßen was reelected president of the society and a meeting to plan the next European Summer School, which will presumably take place in Budweis, Czech Republic. For those who could stay until Saturday a delightful day excursion to the famous Rila Monastery added some cultural background to our host country and concluded this intense, but rich and insightful week.
Sinan von Stietencron