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, Professor Fiona Hallett looks back on her 18 years of engagement with EERA and ECER, and what makes this community of researchers so unique.

In the realm of academic conferences, the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) stands out as a unique and transformative experience, especially for international students. My first encounter with ECER in 2006 marked the beginning of a journey that not only shaped my early career but also fostered a sense of intellectual camaraderie that set it apart from other conferences.

As an early career researcher navigating the landscape of academic associations, I was fortunate that ECER was my first exposure to this world. Little did I know that this event would not only broaden my horizons but also provide me with a mentorship experience that would become central to my academic growth.

What makes EERA and ECER so special

The distinctiveness of ECER lies not just in its academic sessions but also in the supportive atmosphere fostered by the organizers. During my first presentation, the session chair, doubling as a mentor, played a crucial role in creating an inclusive environment. The network meetings, characterized by their inviting nature, quickly drew me in, prompting a desire to actively contribute to the initiatives established by others.

In 2008, I assumed the role of the convenor for the Emerging Researchers’ Network, succeeding a predecessor whom I had the privilege to shadow. Professor Ian Menter, my appointed mentor during this transition, guided me with wisdom and generosity. The experience of taking over as the main convenor opened other doors, leading me to become a Council Member of the European Educational Research Association (EERA).

The collaborative ethos within EERA extended beyond administrative roles. Other networks offered support across a range of activities from reviewing papers and organizing sessions for early career researchers (including insightful sessions led by the Editors of BERJ); this support was invaluable. The intellectual generosity displayed by colleagues at EERA is a distinctive aspect that I have not encountered in other associations or conferences.

My journey with EERA and ECER

EERA has, undeniably, been pivotal in the trajectory of my academic career. From being an invited tutor at summer schools hosted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the University of Hamburg, to being invited discussants at sessions at the ECER 2023 conference, the opportunities for growth have been immeasurable.

Reflecting on the past 18 years, the wealth of opportunities and the bonds forged with colleagues and friends stand out as a testament to the unique value of my engagement with EERA. The association continues to be part of my academic development, allowing me to contribute as a judge for the Best Paper Competition for the Emerging Researchers’ Group. This role enables me to support the next generation of researchers and assist emerging researchers at my own university in organizing their own research events.

In essence, the journey with ECER has been transformative, offering not only academic enrichment but also a sense of belonging within a community of scholars. As I continue to engage with EERA, I am reminded that this intellectual journey is a shared one, and the generosity of spirit within this community is something that I hope will endure for years to come.

Professor Fiona Hallett

Professor Fiona Hallett

Associate Dean of the Graduate School, Edge Hill University, UK

Professor Fiona Hallett is the Associate Dean of the Graduate School, Edge Hill University, UK. Professor Hallett is also Joint Editor of the British Journal of Special Education.

EERA and ECER – nostalgic reflections of a past love affair

In this blog post, Dr Peter Gray takes a rather light-hearted yet nostalgic look back over the meetings and encounters of EERA and ECER, and wonders whether the spark of a past love affair can be rekindled.

Maturing an association – EERA turns 30

For our series on 30 years of EERA, Associate Professor Emeritus Lejf Moos reflects on his involvement in EERA and ECER, and his time as EERA President from 2009 to 2014.

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

For our series on the 30th anniversary of EERA, 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. #30YearsEERA #EdSci