The ECER 2020 in Glasgow intends to interrogate the capacity of educational research to address the complexity of the challenges that are encountered in connecting and reconnecting communities in contemporary Europe.
The concept of community is a complex one open to many different, and often contradictory, interpretations and operationalisations. As citizens and researchers we are members of a diverse range of often overlapping communities at local, national, international, disciplinary and institutional levels. How we choose to conceptualise community and how this interacts with the views and values of researchers and practitioners is at the heart of many strands of educational research. The diverse web of relationships and meanings that link education and community is reflected in valuable and socially relevant educational research that has generative potential to address the challenges of (re)connecting communities.
In this context, it can be argued that education and educational research have the potential to help make sense of what is happening in Europe and the communities of Europe. They might also provide resources to think in a different way, and possibly, generate resources to imagine solutions to fractures in communities. These fractures include: fragmentation, anti-intellectualism and mistrust of establishments, institutions and politicians. The threat of fragmentation can be perceived in the debates about nationalism in Europe and Brexit in the UK. These debates have relied on simplistic binary positions that have arguably led to unwelcome divisions and are closing down communities. There is a rise in anti-intellectualism in public life and a deep-rooted mistrust of establishments, institutions and of politicians in many communities. Education and educational research challenge these narratives and offer alternatives that contribute to the building of a ‘social Europe’ that prioritises the needs of citizens, acknowledges importance of emerging reconceptualisations of the nature of citizenship and identity driven by increasing diversity, the emergence of digital technologies, the fragmentation of traditional social structures and the recognition of centrality of educational communities to the rebuilding of a shared social space.
ECER 2020 suggests that the role of educational research is to establish the position or place of education in the recurrent debates and tensions between the local and global dimensions of life and help to connect and reconnect communities. Participants are invited to interrogate this contention, in order to examine the potential of educational research to (re)connect communities across Europe and beyond.