Campaign for Commercial Free Education conference


The main trade unions in education are sponsoring this confrence in Dublin. Anyone can attend, and it will be particularly useful for teachers, students and others in the education system who want to resist the increasing commercialisation of schools and universities. The Campaign for Commercial Free Education and Trinity College Dublin School of Education

17th November 2007

Conference Title
"Education: whose Business is it anyway?

Emmet Theatre, Trinity College Dublin.

10.00 a.m. - 4.15pm on Saturday 17th November 2007


Session 1: Commercialism Internationally and Nationally


Mr. Eddie Holt, School of Communications DCU


Welcome & Introduction:

Dr. Michael Shevlin, Head of School of Education, TCD.


Keynote speech:
“Commercialism in Education; an International Context.” Prof. Alex Molnar, Arizona State University.


Questions / Discussion

To the Keynote Speaker


Coffee Break

On Campus


Speaker 1.

“Commercial activity at primary and secondary school levels.” Joseph Fogarty, Campaign for Commercial-Free Education

11.35- 11.50

Speaker 2

“Funding: who pays for public education?” Mr. Peter Mullan, Senior Official INTO


Speaker 3

“The Implications of Commercialism for Higher Education in Ireland.” Dr. Kathleen Lynch, Chair of Equality Studies, UCD.

12.05 – 1.00

Lunch break

Off Campus – not included in registration fee.

Session 2: Responding to Commercialism in Education.


Panel Discussion 1. Primary & Secondary Levels:


- Mr. Pat Cahill, Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland.

- Ms. Germaine Noonan, The Schools' Business Partnership, Business in the Community Ireland.

- Mr. Seán Cottrell, President Irish Primary Principals Network.

- Ms. Maureen Mulvihill, Health Promotion Manager, Irish Heart Foundation.

- Speaker from National Parents Council


Comfort Break


Panel Discussion 2 Higher Education


- Mr. Austin Hanley, Head of Engineering, Athlone Institute of Technology

- Mr. Paddy Healy, Teachers Union of Ireland.

- Ms. Marnie Holborow, School of Applied Languages and Intercultural Studies, Dublin City University

- Dr. Ted Fleming, Head of Department of Adult and Community Education, NUI, Maynooth.

- Mr. Richard Morrisroe, President, Union of Students of Ireland


Reflection & Concluding remarks.
Dr. Peter Conroy, School of Education TCD
Prof Alex Molnar, Arizona State University.


People wishing to attend the conference should register beforehand through the Campaign for Commercial-Free Education website: A registration fee of €10 will be payable on the day of the conference from 9.30 – 10.00 at the Emmet Theatre, Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin. Please note that this does not include lunch which will be at delegates own discretion. Those who have not pre-registered will be accommodated on a first come first served basis and entry to the conference can not be guaranteed.

The event will aim to:

Debate the extent and influence of commercialism in the Irish education system in the context of international trends.
Bring together people, from inside and outside the educational community, who are concerned about the effects and consequences of commercialism.
Explore responses from educators, parents, students and administrators to this trend and support those who have taken a stand in relation to commercialism.

It will address three key themes:

1. Commercialism in education internationally and Ireland’s case in the global context.

2. The extent and influence of commercial activity in primary & secondary schools.

3. Current trends and consequence around commercialism in Higher Education in Ireland.


The conference is being hosted by the Campaign for Commercial-Free Education and the School of Education, Trinity College Dublin. It is supported and endorsed by the following organisations.

Irish National Teachers Organisation (,
Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (
Teachers’ Union of Ireland (
Irish Primary Principals Network (
Irish Federation of University Teachers (
Education Branch of The Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU:
Irish Heart Foundation (
Union of Students in Ireland (


The conference will be convened by Mr Eddie Holt of the School of Communications DCU and former critic for the Irish Times.

Formal proceedings will begin with a keynote address on the international trend towards corporate involvement in education and the growth of a commercial paradigm of education across all sectors. This will be delivered by Prof Alex Molnar of Arizona State University. Dr. Molnar is the leading U.S. expert on the commercialism of public education and director of the Commercialism in Education Research Unit at ASU. He has authored many articles, reports and publications including Giving Kids the Business (1996) and School Commercialism: From Democratic Ideal to Market Commodity(2005). Following his presentations, delegates will have an opportunity to address questions to Dr. Molnar.

The conference will continue after a short break with two presentations of the subject of commercial advertising and marketing in primary and secondary schools. Joseph Fogarty, Chairperson of the Campaign for Commercial-Free Education, will address the rapid growth in commercial schemes targeting children, parents and schools. Consideration will be given to the regulation of commercial activity in schools or lack thereof. A spokesperson from the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation will then discuss the challenges of creating a commercial-free space for young people in a society which is increasingly saturated in marketing messages and references.

The implications of commercialism for Higher Education in Ireland will be the subject of a talk by Prof. Kathleen Lynch, Chair of Equality Studies at UCD. The effects of recent restructuring of several 3rd level institutions and their increasing reliance on corporate funding will be considered. An attempt will be made to connect these three presentations by focussing on the following overarching themes: the growth in neoliberal ideology; corporate influence and control, equality, governmental support for education; the importance of an educational mission in our institutions.

There will be a break of approximately one hour for lunch, which will be at delegates own discretion. A wide variety of eateries and cafes surround Trinity College in the heart of Dublin and there will be something to suit all tastes.

Session 2 of the conference is entitled “Responding to Commercialism in Education” and offers delegates an opportunity to hear first hand from prominent professionals dealing with the challenge of the apparent colonisation of education by business in a ‘society’ increasingly dominated by neoliberal discourse. Delegates will also have an extended period in which to voice their own opinions from the floor and pose questions to the panels. Each panel will comprise individuals of varied background, affiliation and perspective, thus ensuring a well-informed and progressive debate.

To conclude proceedings there will be a short reflection and some closing remarks from Dr. Peter Conroy, School of Education TCD, & the keynote speaker Prof. Alex Molnar.