Education Research At Risk In Europe: What are the scientific, ethical, political and practical implications?

Time Thursday 13:30 - 15:00
Location VMP 8 - Room 208
Speakers Fabio Dovigo, Jonas Andreasen Lysgaard, Monica Carlsson, Carmen Carmona Rodriguez, Lisa Rosen
Chair Fabio Dovigo
  • Link to registration here after 25 June

As the ECER 2019 theme emphasizes, in an era increasingly perceived as unstable, unsustainable and at risk, educational processes, developments and capacity building become uncertain. Educational research (ER) is seen as having a pivotal role to play in generating answers to the many questions arising from this unstable landscape. However, ER itself is not exempt from risks that can hinder the ability to deal with this task. This workshop examines the types of risk that contemporary scholars struggle with and engage with different efforts tonavigate such a landscape of risk in order to ensure the continued relevance and impact of ER.

Examples from such a landscape of risk could be how scholars in many countries face violence, prosecution or restrictions (SAR, 2018). Scholars are at times forced to limit their activities and mobility, or face isolation from the scientific community. Moreover, academic freedom is also at risk beyond the individual level: worldwide, a number of HE organisations are currently under attack, suffering political coercion and intimidation, and even forced to shut down or relocate (Karran et al., 2017).

ER is also at risk for institutional reasons, as some public authorities and private companies investing in research push scholars to soften or eliminate conclusions that are not in line with the results they expect (Drenth, 2010). Another fundamental risk is in ER is seen when research freedom is threatened by economic pressures. Scholars from low-GDP countries are excluded from the scientific debate because of the growing cost of research in a competitive global environment, unable to afford access to expensive databases, equipment or conferences. In addition, ER is suffering from the economic pressure created by current neoliberal policies (Cheek, 2017). Pursuing a ‘competition fetish’, such polices strongly influence the way ER is conceived, reducing research to a less critical and more marketable commodity (Naidoo, 2018). Moreover, economic support for ER is at stake: the recent trend of international R&I programmes (such as Horizon 2020) shows that, while investigation in SSH is underfunded compared to hard sciences, investigation in education is underfunded within the SSH sector (European Commission, 2017).

Another risk is the pressure towards standardisation and ranking (Biesta, 2015; Hargreaves et al., 2010; Waaijer et al., 2018). Scholars are urged to produce a growing quantity of papers, whose quality is evaluated according to the evidence-based model imported from other research paradigms. This process, while limiting the space for critical reflection, reinforces a hierarchical ranking of scientific publications. Young scholars are especially at risk of seeing their career opportunities reduced to a race for impact factor.

Finally, the mounting wave of intolerance toward certain sections of the population (e.g. women, migrants, LGBT…) raises serious concern about the future of scholars and research programmes working on those topics (Ahrens et al., 2018). Actions to abolish entire research areas (such as gender or Roma studies) are already in place in several countries.

The workshop will provide a space for exploring the following questions:

  • What are the continuities and discontinuities seen across transnational contexts regarding the struggles experienced in relation to ER at risk?
  • As European researchers in the field of education, what strategies can we promote to protect ER freedom and overcome the challenges?
  • What are the scientific, ethical, political and practical implications of addressing those risks as researchers?

The workshop is organized as an interactive session with brief presentations, followed by facilitated group discussions and reflections. It will conclude with a discussion of what are the general and specific challenges across these different contexts and areas, and what we can learn from each other.

EERA Going Green

As part of the commitment of EERA to ensuring that our annual European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) is as sustainable as possible, we were delighted to work with the local organisers of our Hamburg 2019 conference to develop our 'Green Agenda'.  Watch this videoto learn more!

To cover and document the conference from a student’s perspective, Josephine Hohberg, a masterstudent in Hamburg, will blog and report on her #ECER2019 experience.
Read more

Upcoming ECERs

ECER'24, Nicosia
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