2021 Annual Meeting Major Lectures and Speakers
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Major Events, Lectures, and Speakers

The 2021 AERA Annual Meeting—scheduled for April 8–12—is the single largest gathering of scholars in the education research field and is a showcase for groundbreaking, innovative work in a diverse array of areas. All times are Eastern Time.

AERA Welcome Opening Reception
Thursday, April 8, 6:15 pm - 7:30 pm 

Join AERA President Shaun R. Harper and AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine for a celebratory opening reception. Catch up with your colleagues and enjoy our virtual kick off of the 2021 AERA Meeting. All registrants are welcome!

Presidential Town Hall Meeting: Accepting Collective Responsibility for Workplace Sexual Harassment
Friday, April 9, 2:30 p.m. ET

All presidential town hall attendees will be invited to identify actions we can take as individuals and as a professional association to raise public consciousness about sexual harassment. Together, we also will identify ways to use our research and networks to eradicate sexual misconduct in academic and other workplace settings. Attendees will identify actions we can take as individuals and as a professional association to raise public consciousness about sexual harassment. We also will identify ways to use our research and networks to eradicate sexual misconduct in academic and other workplace settings.

View the town hall flyer [PDF] 

AERA Presidential Address
Monday, April 12, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm 

Speaker: Shaun R. Harper, University of Southern California

Title: We Share Responsibility

Abstract: In the 2021 AERA Annual Meeting presidential address, President Shaun Harper will inspire researchers to accept individual and collective responsibility for complex educational and social problems. He will present a citizen-scholar model that aims to make our research useful in addressing threats to democracy, the miscarriage of justice in and out of schools, and assorted acts of violence against diverse populations in the U.S. and across the globe. Courage, actionable intelligence, transdisciplinary collaboration, and inclusive coalitions that meaningfully engage various publics will be emphasized throughout this address.

2021 AERA Distinguished Lecture
Friday, April 9, 12:20 pm - 1:20 pm 

Speaker: Sylvia Hurtado, University of California, Los Angeles

Hurtado, an AERA Fellow and a professor at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), is a preeminent scholar on racial campus climate, the experiences of underrepresented identity groups in college, and diversity in higher education. Hurtado served as director of the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute for more than a decade. Earlier, she served as director of the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan.


2020 AERA Distinguished Lecture
Friday, April 9, 12:20 pm - 1:20 pm 

Speaker: Vivian L. Gadsden, University of Pennsylvania

Title: The Education and Social Imperative for Responsibility and Partnerships: Can Children and Their Families Count on Us?

Abstract: As the theme of this year’s annual meeting suggests, those of us who wear the label of education professional—as researcher, scholar, practitioner, or policymaker—assume responsibility to ensure that the spaces in which we work and inhabit are in fact spaces that advance positive change and elevate the humanity of children and families. Our sense of responsibility is advantaged by a personal sense of duty but enhanced with a collective and shared commitment emboldened through partnerships. Over the past 25 years, such partnerships and the meaning and responsibility out of which they unfold and grow have contributed to a robust set of efforts that range from new conceptualizations of research to redefining what counts as change and for whom does it matter. Recent attention to young children and their families has been at the center of these efforts, as new programs and studies are designed to help us identify pathways to opportunity and engage communities. However, there is considerable evidence that much is still left to be done—by the systems intended to serve children and families and structures that too often restrict their learning. The distinguished lecture will focus on longstanding and shifting definitions of responsibility in both education discussions and the public sphere and on the ways that research partnerships can and do embrace this responsibility especially for the youngest and most vulnerable and those who care for them. It will highlight two guiding questions: whether and how our field responds to the call to fulfill our commitment to the well-being of children and their families and how we will demonstrate that they can count on us to dream with them and to act with purpose in their best interests.

The 2020 AERA Distinguished Lecture will be given by Vivian L. Gadsden—William T. Carter Professor of Child Development, professor of education, and director of the National Center on Fathers and Families at the University of Pennsylvania. Gadsden, who served as AERA president in 2016 and is an AERA Fellow, is a preeminent scholar on cultural and social factors affecting learning and literacy across the life course and within families, particularly those at the greatest risk for academic and social vulnerability. 

2021 Wallace Foundation Distinguished Lecture
Sunday, April 11, 12:20 pm - 1:20 pm

Speaker: Cynthia B. Dillard, University of Georgia
Title: When We (Re)member, “Everything is Possible:” Black Women Teachers and the Spirit of Our Work

Abstract: Educational research often approaches teaching and teacher education as if Black women just happened to be in the Americas. Just happened to be enslaved. Just happened to have suffered over 400 years of inequities. But how do these conditions matter to the lives of Black women teachers who know in our bodies, minds, and spirits the harm of centuries of systemic white supremacy, patriarchy, and other marginalizations that endure today? Drawing from a 7-year study of Black women teachers and teacher educators, this lecture highlights the need to acknowledge and (re)member the powerful spirit of Black women in education.

Dillard is a national leader in the study of critical teacher education, spirituality in education, and African/African-American feminist studies. Dillard is the Mary Frances Early Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Georgia. She was the 2012 recipient of the AERA Distinguished Contributions to Gender Equity in Education Research Award. Two of her books have received the Critics’ Choice Award from the American Educational Studies Association.


2020 Wallace Foundation Distinguished Lecture
Saturday, April 10, 12:20 pm - 1:20 pm

Speaker: Cecilia Rios-Aguilar, University of California, Los Angeles

Title: Research as Resistencia: Studying Community Colleges as Sites of Hope, Possibilities, and Transformation through a Systems/Funds of Knowledge Approach

Abstract: This presentation will discuss innovative conceptual and practical approaches to study community colleges to transform them into equitable spaces. Existing myths, models, and assumptions about community colleges and all its actors need to be challenged and debunked. In particular, this session will provide concrete examples of how to re-imagine the use funds of knowledge from a systems’ perspective to challenge deficit notions of what community colleges are, who they serve, and what role they play in redressing inequities in higher education.

Rios-Aguilar—professor of education and associate dean of equity, diversity, and inclusion at UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Rios-Aguilar is a national leader in the study of the educational and occupational trajectories of marginalized students, taking a multidisciplinary approach to examine issues related to access and the transition to college, college persistence and success, and pedagogies in higher education.