Introducing Professor Alma Harris ICSEI President 2013 -2015

The ICSEI conference in Chile surpassed all expectations. It was a wonderful conference with participation from over 52 countries in a simply beautiful location. Without question, it raised the bar yet again and set high expectations for Yogyakarta and ICSEI 2014. It was a real pleasure to accept the Presidency of ICSEI in Chile and to know that the Congress will return to Asia, once again, in 2014. ICSEI 2014 promises to be an exciting and vibrant conference in a fascinating location where there will be many opportunities to experience a rich and diverse culture.

When I took over the Presidency in Chile, I reflected on what I felt ICSEI was, and indeed, how others understood it. While there are many ways to describe what ICSEI is and what it does, the best word that encapsulates ICSEI for me is the word ‘community’. It is a community, with various elements which combine to make ICSEI the unique organization it is today.

ICSEI has been described as a family, which for some it is, but in my experience it is more of a community. ICSEI is an inclusive community because it represents and reaches policy makers, practitioners and researchers in a huge number of countries. This inclusivity allows different voices, different points of view and different perspectives to emerge. This inclusivity also ensures that ICSEI is a learning community which fosters debate, discussion and disagreement to promote new understanding and new knowledge.

As a learning community, ICSEI demonstrates the highest standards of scholarship and intellectual debate. In this sense, it is also a scientific community drawing upon a wealth of research evidence, over many years, about how schools and school systems become effective and improve. It is the quality of the research base that has ensured that the field continues to influence policy and practice. The challenge is to ensure that ICSEI is a first point of call for policy makers and practitioners around the world, and to ensure it continues to deliver cutting edge, contemporary and relevant research evidence.

ICSEI is also a networked community. In between conferences, the ICSEI networks are actively working, sharing ideas, generating research projects and writing together. The formal and informal networks within ICSEI ensure that new knowledge is constructed, shared and disseminated, despite time zones and distance. Finally, ICSEI is a virtual community, as much of the communication, discussion and planning takes place on line or through Skype or face-time. With the fast pace of technological change, who knows what technology ICSEI members will be using to stay in touch in the future but one thing is certain, they will.

It is a privilege to be President of ICSEI and to be part of the ICSEI community.

Professor Alma Harris

University of Malaya

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