WERA World Congress Draws Hundreds of Education Researchers to South Africa
WERA World Congress Draws Hundreds of Education Researchers to South Africa

August 2018

The World Education Research Association (WERA) convened the 2018 WERA World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa August 3-5. The Congress brought together nearly 400 researchers, policy leaders, and practitioners from 52 countries to participate in paper sessions, symposia, poster sessions, and workshops focused on advancing education research worldwide.

AERA Executive Director
and WERA Immediate Past
President, Felice J. Levine (left),
and Liesel Ebersöhn, WERA
Sectretary General (right),
delivered opening remarks

  • For additional photos and highlights from the 2018 WERA World Congress, visit the WERA Facebook page.

Held at the Westin Cape Town, the meeting was organized around the theme "Reimagining Worldwide Education Research.” The 2018 World Congress placed a wide variety of issues in education in a global context, including primary and secondary schooling, higher education, workforce and adult education, and learning around the globe, among others. Liesel Ebersöhn, WERA Secretary General, and Felice J. Levine, AERA Executive Director and WERA Immediate Past President, served as the Congress co-chairs.

The research presented drew upon emerging systemic global education reforms and challenges, helping facilitate connections between researchers from different countries, cultures, and contexts. Both the substance of the program and the spirit of the gathering reflected WERA’s commitment to fostering inclusivity, building capacity for education research globally, and serving as a catalyst for research and scholarly engagement that transcends the boundaries of nation, continent, and hemisphere.

The conference opened with a timely and provocative plenary session that featured a presidential address by Levine, along with commentary from five education researchers from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America.

Levine’s talk, “Children Living in Distress Worldwide—An Enduring Challenge for Education Research,” challenged attendees to reimagine how the education research community might transform research to make a difference in the lives of young people confronted with the most traumatic of human conditions. Commentary from the panelists raised critical questions and highlighted promising examples of transformative work taking place in several regions around the world.

Four keynote addresses delivered by renowned education scholars and policy leaders from around the world called on conference attendees to acknowledge and engage with complexity in all aspects of education research. Their presentations also highlighted the importance of pursuing opportunities to disrupt traditional research frameworks and approaches in order to advance the field and improve education worldwide. 

Prudence Carter, Dean of the
Graduate School of Education
at the University of California,

Prudence Carter, AERA Fellow and dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, delivered a keynote titled, Education’s Limitations and Its Radical Potential in a Global Society. Carter’s address focused on educational inequality within a wider ecology of economic, political, and sociocultural relations in society and offered insights into new policy and practice directions informed by her research in the United States and South Africa.

AERA staff and AERA members across all career stages were well-represented in paper, poster, and symposium sessions. George Wimberly, AERA Director of Professional Development, presented his work on the importance of mentoring for early career researchers globally and the role that professional organizations can play in fostering productive mentoring relationships. 

Graduate student member and AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship recipient Dionna Louise Latimer-Hearn received the most innovative poster award at the WERA Congress for her research on “Experience, Training, and Perspectives of Speech-Language Pathologists Serving African American English-Speaking Students.” 

Ingrid Gogolin, WERA
President (left), 
with AERA Exeuctive
Director and
WERA Immediate Past
President, Felice J. Levine,

AERA Past President Gloria Ladson-Billings organized and chaired a symposium on culturally relevant and sustaining pedagogies in international contexts.  An Americas Network-invited symposium, chaired by Levine, critically examined education research methods in the Americas and featured a presentation by AERA Past President Barbara Schneider. Paralleling the worldwide emphasis of the opening session, five scholars were invited to serve as “participant observers” and reflect on what they found to be most compelling in terms of teachable, take-away, or valuable aspects of the conference. AERA Associate Executive Director Lori Diane Hill served as a panelist in that session.

Beyond the keynote addresses, paper sessions, and symposia, attendees had the opportunity to participate in research skill-building and training workshops. The topics for the workshops included using smartphone technology to advance international education research (led by Schneider and Katariina Salmela-Aro), successful academic publishing from a global perspective (led by Patricia Alexander and P. Karen Murphy), and education research on immigrant families and their children, (led by WERA President Ingrid Gogolin), among others.

Founded in 2009, WERA comprises major research associations from around the world dedicated to advancing education research as a scientific and scholarly field. AERA is a founding member of WERA. Several current and former leaders of AERA have served on the WERA Council, including former AERA presidents Eva Baker, Lorraine McDonnell, Carol Lee, Arnetha Ball, and Barbara Schneider.

Doctoral and Early Researchers
Network Meeting

In August 2019, WERA will hold its next Focal Meeting in Tokyo, Japan, featuring education research that includes multiple countries or is comparative, cross-cultural, international, or transnational in conceptualization, scope, and design.



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