AERA President Rich Milner on What Makes the 2023 Annual Meeting Special
AERA President Rich Milner on What Makes the 2023 Annual Meeting Special

February 2023

Dear Colleagues:

I hope you'll decide to join us in Chicago and virtually for the 2023 Annual Meeting as we, as a research community, engage our conference theme: "Interrogating Consequential Education Research in Pursuit of Truth." So many of you have dedicated your time, insight, knowledge, and skill in organizing and planning our annual meeting. I want to express my deepest gratitude to each of you, including our colleagues at the AERA central office. I also must acknowledge the incredible work of our program co-chairs, professors Ebony McGee (Vanderbilt University), Lori Delale-O’Connor (University of Pittsburgh), and Mark Gooden (Columbia University, Teachers College). I am also thankful to Dena Lane-Bonds (Vanderbilt University), assistant director of the Initiative for Race Research and Justice. Each of these people has been essential in the preparation phases of our conference.

I suspect 2023 will be a memorable conference for many reasons, and I invite you to consider the following.

  1. We are moving back into a full conference culture after several years of serious modifications.
  2.  Creating community and collaboration with young people across the globe is an important aspect of our work as education researchers. This year, as we commit to re-engaging youth in our annual meeting, we have launched a grant competition to support youth attendance and participation at the conference. Eighty-two individuals or organizations completed submissions from 32 states and seven countries. Our committee selected 13 youth teams, three of them outside the United States: one from Spain and two from Canada. We also selected youth engagement proposals from three teams outside of university settings—two from public schools and one from a research institution that collaborates with a public school.
  3. For this year's conference, I stressed the importance of re-centering the literature review as a legitimate site of scholarship in the field of education. Our program is richly filled with empirical papers and panels as well as literature reviews.
  4. Because we learn more from and enhance our knowledge base in education by studying and learning from disciplines outside of education, our opening session will feature Cornel West. After Dr. West delivers his remarks, he will engage in a conversation with me about many of the attacks on education and democracy that we face in our nation and world. There will also be an opportunity for audience questions.
  5. The range of topics explored throughout the annual meeting, both in Chicago and beyond, will enable our community to address theory, research, praxis, policy, and practice in ways that should advance our field. We have been intentional in our program planning to include diverse voices, epistemologies, career spans, and institutional and geographic affiliations.
  6. Indeed, AERA is a space where we should learn from and with each other, particularly during times when those outside our field need us to disseminate what we know in ways that help them make consequential decisions in their daily lives and practices. I have encouraged multiple modes for sharing what we know during the annual meeting, which (I hope) may be transferable to research dissemination outside the community of education researchers.    
  7. Of course, we want to celebrate the many accomplishments of our colleagues—particularly our doctoral student colleagues and early-career colleagues. I hope you will do your best to attend the awards ceremony set for Saturday, April 15, 4:40 p.m. to 6:10 p.m. CT.
  8. Finally, my presidential lecture will take place on Friday, April 14, 4:40 p.m. to 5:40 p.m. CT, and I hope you will join us as I have something to say.

It has been nothing short of an honor to serve this organization, which has given me so much over the years. Never—ever—would I have imagined when I attended my first AERA annual meeting as a doctoral student at The Ohio State University in 2000 that I would be voted president of this organization. Colleagues in AERA not only produce cutting-edge, world-class scholarship but operate from a set of values and principles that make me proud. We do not stand by as bystanders in the fight for justice. Rather, we position ourselves in community with others to co-create the kind of world in which we want and deserve to live. I thank you and look forward to seeing you in Chicago and virtually.   

Rich Milner
President, AERA
Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair of Education, Vanderbilt University