30 years of EERA – It’s the people who make EERA

30 years of EERA – It’s the people who make EERA

EERA is celebrating 30 years in 2024, and as part of our anniversary celebrations, we have invited people who have been at the heart of the association to share their memories and reflections. In a series of blog posts, which will run throughout 2024, we will share those precious memories, from the people who helped foster the global EERA community.

In this blog post, Dr Jani Ursin, reflects on his experiences as a Networks’ Representative on the EERA council, and the inclusive community of researchers he has engaged with over the years.

What I’m reflecting on in this blog post mainly relates to my time as Networks’ Representative on the EERA Council (NRC) from September 2015 to September 2019. What does a Networks’ Representative do? Well, I didn’t know much when I was elected as the new NRC in 2014, but a year of shadowing prepared me well for my role as an NRC.

The main role of an NRC is, as the name suggests, to represent all the EERA networks. EERA has more than 30 networks, which vary greatly in size and nature. As I moved from being a Link Convenor in Network 22: Research in Higher Education to being an NRC, it obviously took some work on my part to adopt this role. However, my four years’ experience as an NRC has provided me with a wealth of knowledge and insight into educational research that has far exceeded my initial expectations.

My time as NRC involved many meetings (Executive Board, EERA Council, and Link Convenor meetings), seminars (such as the Network Seminar), planning for future ECERs and other EERA activities, and all kinds of informal gatherings (the best decisions are made over dinner, right?). Common to all of these were lively, profound, and sometimes challenging discussions about educational research and its role in Europe and beyond. Occasionally these discussions ended up being very philosophical and thorough, such as what constitutes a network or what is a European perspective (I still do not have a comprehensive answer to these questions). Nevertheless, all the discussions we had really broadened my understanding of educational research and especially of the different contexts in which educational research is carried out. I think that participating in various EERA activities has helped me to get out of my own rabbit hole and really try to look at educational research from a ‘European perspective’.

A community of researchers

One of the strategic priorities of the EERA is to be an inclusive community of researchers. I think that EERA has succeeded in this. The openness of EERA and its networks to different research traditions and methodologies, as well as the promotion of dialogue between them, is evident when participating in ECERs. In addition, EERA pays particular attention to welcoming the next generation of researchers, and colleagues from countries where educational research is still in development, into the EERA community and into the educational dialogue. Personally, participating in EERA activities for more than two decades has helped me to build a network of great colleagues, many of whom I consider friends, with whom I can discuss and share whatever is on my mind.

In EERA we often tend to say that the networks are the essence of the association. I would argue that the people – network members, early career researchers, ECER and ERC participants, Council members, the Executive Board and the EERA office – are the heart and soul of EERA. The EERA community is made up of genuine, hard-working, committed, yet fun-loving people. In times of uncertainty, a sense of belonging is important – and belonging to the EERA community gives hope for a better and brighter future!

Dr Jani Ursin

Dr Jani Ursin

Senior Researcher at the Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Dr Jani Ursin is a senior researcher at the Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. His research has focused on academic work, the assessment of higher education learning outcomes, mergers of higher education institutions, and quality assurance in higher education. He is a former Link Convenor of EERA Network 22 (Research in Higher Education), after which he represented all the networks on the EERA Council. His profile is at: https://ktl.jyu.fi/en/staff/ursin-jani

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