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Youth, Change, and Social Agency Conference

Organizing committee:

Geoffrey Pleyers, Ani Wierenga, Abeer Musleh

Local Organizing committee:

Minerva Jarayseh, Bilal Salameh, Ferdos Al-Issa, Nabila Daqqaq, Ahmad Fasfos, Wisam Rafidi, Nahida Arja, Abeer Musleh

Scientific committee:

Geoffrey Pleyers, Howard Williamson, Sharlene Swartz

Geoffrey Pleyers is a FNRS researcher and Professor of sociology at the University of Louvain, Belgium. He is an associated researcher at the Collège d'Etudes Mondiales (FMSH, Paris) and the current president of the Research Committee 47 “Social classes and social movements” of the International Sociological Association and a regular expert at the "Youth Partnership" of the Council of Europe and the European Commission. He teaches sociology of social movements at the University of Louvain and at the Ecoles des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris and has been a visiting professor in a dozen universities in Latin America, including the National University of Colombia, the Hurtado University in Chile and the National University of Mexico. Geoffrey Pleyers is the author of “Alter-Globalization. Becoming Actors of the Global Age” (Cambridge, Polity, 2011) and the editor of books and special issues including “Movimientos sociales. De lo local a lo global” (Mexico, Anthropos, 2009), “La consommation critique” (Paris, DDB, 2011), “Mouvements sociaux” (Paris, FMSH, 2016) and “Alter-Activisme. Engagement et individualization” (Paris, Agora, 2016). His main research focuses include youth political participation, movements for democracy in Europe and Latin America, environmentalist movements and globalization.

Dr. Howard Williamson is Professor of European Youth Policy at the University of South Wales in the UK.  He is a qualified youth worker and ran a youth centre for 25 years in parallel with his academic research that spanned issues such as youth crime, youth unemployment, vocational training, enterprise and entrepreneurship, substance misuse, homelessness, school curricula and youth work.  He conducted the original ‘status zer0’ research that produced political attention to young people not in education, employment or training.  He was appointed Commander of the Order of British Empire (CBE) in 2002 for services to young people.  In 2016, he was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO).


Prof Sharlene Swartz is a Research Director at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa and an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Cape Town. Her expertise and current research centres on youth development in adverse contexts, interpersonal and communal notions of restitution, emancipatory qualitative research methods, and the effects of race on educational outcomes. She has published widely in academic journals and has authored or edited seven books including Ikasi: the moral ecology of South Africa’s township youth (2009); Teenage Tata: Voices of Young Fathers in South Africa (2009); Youth citizenship and the politics of belonging (2013); and Another Country: Everyday Social Restitution (2016). She is the ISA RC34 vice President for Africa and the Middle East and is also currently the chair of the Restitution Foundation in South Africa.


Dr. Ani Wierenga

Dr. Ani Wierenga is a researcher, practitioner, academic sociologist and President (2014-18) of RC34 (Sociology of Youth) in the International Sociological Association. She is an Honorary Senior Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

 Ani Wierenga is passionate about the type of societies being created for current and future generations, and developing understanding of the most pressing issues across borders and languages. Projects include a 2005-6 situation analysis of Bhutan, research which later informed this developing nation’s first youth policy (UNESCO, 2010).

Her research explores the impacts of social change and inequalities, identifying the social dynamics that enhance or crush possibilities for human action, dignity and webs of life. She investigates what is needed to support individuals’ participation in communities, and the forms of assumption and governance that underpin citizenship and global citizenship. This has direct relevance to future planning, models of learning, and to policies for life-long learning.  Wierenga’s books include Young people making a life (Palgrave, 2009) and, with Jose Roberto Guevara, Educating for global citizenship (MUP, 2013). Other publications include a toolkit for Young people in decision making (FYA, 2003), and The Case for More inclusive Learning Systems (DSF, 2015).