Welcome to ICSEI, and to the ICSEI Stavanger Congress. As ICSEI's current President, I am delighted to welcome you to our community and this Congress.
ICSEI is unique in bringing together a growing community of researchers, educators and policy-makers every year, face-to-face, in an International Congress to discuss and debate ideas, evidence, practices and strategies that help make schools and other educational institutions more effective for all those that they serve.
Despite our name, we are more than a Congress, as we also offer opportunities to participate in some very active ongoing networks of professional interest, publications and website communication such as the ICSEI Digest and ICSEI Express. Behind the scenes, the ICSEI Board and its Executive is working extremely hard on behalf of all the members to make ICSEI even more effective for you and all that you represent - promoting increased diversity and generational renewal in the membership, the roster of speakers, and the focus of our discussions and publications. We are beginning to build a professional development platform to increase impact and income alike in order to provide better services. We are taking our Congresses to parts of the world we have never been before to open up dialogue and learning across cultures and systems.
In coming to Norway and Stavanger, the 2018 Congress will be engaging with a high performing educational system that is a global leader in early-childhood education, a great believer in public education for public good, one of the world's highest ranking nations on indicators of happiness and well-being, and a culture that embraces and enjoys nature and environmental sustainability - including in education. In Norway, they say, there is no such thing as bad weather. There is only bad clothing.
The Norwegian Congress will feature keynote speakers including Maggie McDonnell, the Global Teacher Prize Winner for 2017, Professor Amanda Datnow from the University of California, San Diego - an international thought leader on professional learning communities, educational policy and educational change; Jan Egeland, a foremost advocate of human rights; and Oxford University Professor, Kathy Silva, a living legend in the field of early childhood studies.
There is no better place, probably, for us all to think about the connection between equity, diversity and sustainability than Norway. It does not have all the answers, but this Congress will pose the important questions. How do we provide success for all children, not just a few or even the majority? How do we make our educational processes responsive to and inclusive of all cultures, including the indigenous cultures? How do we lay the best possible foundations for learning, achievement, wellbeing and identity from the earliest years of life? How do we engage learning with the natural world and connect education more effectively, every day, to the world around us and of which we are a part? How do we also engage our teachers and leaders fully in this great quest without bleeding them dry and burning them out?
In this Congress and this community, we work across disciplines, borders, roles and identities to address these compelling questions that affect everyone.
In ICSEI, we move towards and engage others instead of turning against or aside from them. We support and promote knowledge and evidence over opinion and ideology. We uplift the people we serve in order to uplift the people who serve them. Two years is a short time to serve as President, and the Stavanger congress will mark my last days in this role, but working as a team with the Past President, Michael Schratz and the President Elect, Kim Schildkamp, as well as with a distinguished and hard-working Board, and a dynamic Congress Committee, we have been able to achieve so much together and over time than any one of us could have done alone.
Sustainability is about collaboration more than competition, about diversity rather than standardization, about conserving and renewing people's energy not wearing them out, and about considering how all our actions - the schools we choose, the places we teach, the innovations we support - affect everyone else, especially the least advantaged. It's hard enough to be successful. It's harder still to be sustainable. Let's figure out how to do that together.
I am honored to serve as President and look forward to meeting many of you in Stavanger.
President of ICSEI
Brennan Chair in Education