Dear EECERA conference delegates,

I am counting down the days until the beginning of September when our remarkable EECERA research community meets together, once again face to face, in Brighton, England for our 32nd Annual Conference which this year focuses our interactions on Developing Sustainable Early Childhood Education Systems.  Last year’s conference in Cascais, Portugal was an incredible experience and I am looking forward once more to sharing our creative, curious and lively dialogues! This year’s Conference will again be a big gathering of several hundred colleagues from across the globe. I anticipate that our growing international community will provide an amazing opportunity to (re)connect and welcome EECERA colleagues, both old friends and new.

Our annual time together becomes ever more precious as we continue to live through relentless serious global and local challenges – from the lingering effect of the COVID pandemic and its economic and societal impact, to climate change, population displacements on a massive scale and, shockingly, wars both within Europe and globally. The accelerating scale and pace of these events demand that action to tackle them seems ever more urgent as their impact becomes ever clearer. These exceptional challenges require every one of us to respond with generosity, solidarity, collective action, partnerships and importantly, honest critical dialogues with each other, if we are to progress. We think that critical and rigorous dialogue, collaboration and research across all divides are vital if we are to address these global challenges and create a more peaceable world.

On behalf of EECERA I want to express our solidarity and support for all of our EECERA colleagues – scholars, teachers and students – from conflict ridden situations who live daily with the tragedy of these events and knowing their profound impact on the lives of the young children brings us all together. Following guidance from national and international academic bodies, it is our priority to ensure that our conference remains safe for all our delegates. We will do everything we can to prevent hate crime, antisemitism, Islamophobia and intolerance, and support our colleagues to respond appropriately if incidents involving these take place. In line with our clear commitment to freedom of speech during these extremely difficult times, it is important that EECERA enables and supports delegates to debate and discuss these most challenging issues, within the law, and with respect and tolerance.  However, we also need to reiterate that any discrimination or intimidation against EECERA delegates is absolutely unacceptable, and we are urging any delegates facing antisemitism, Islamophobia, harassment or discrimination of any kind at conference to inform the EECERA Board of Trustees and Conference organisers and seek support.

This letter is a signal of the concrete steps we are taking at conference to prevent intolerance and promote good relations between different groups. We are working hard to develop a culture where relationships between diverse groups and individuals enhance the learning experience, protect freedom of speech and academic freedoms, tackle harassment, and contribute to an inclusive society. The following five key principles, based on guidance produced by the Commission for Racial Equality in the UK (CRE, 2005), provide a useful framework for understanding and creating good relations in academic gatherings:

  1. Equality, acting swiftly to challenge discrimination, harassment and bullying in all its manifestations.
  2. Respect, framing the right to self-expression and free speech within the context of respect for others; encouraging dialogue about the issues that connect and divide individuals and communities, discussing prejudice; challenging preconceptions and assumptions.
  3. Security, creating a safe environment for all delegates, free from intimidation, harassment and fear; tackling hate crime; challenging views that promote violence or otherwise deny human rights.
  4. Unity, providing opportunities to learn about difference and identify common ground; promoting the benefits of developing knowledge and skills that improve personal and communal relationships.
  5. Cooperation, taking a proactive approach to conflict resolution that is fair, consistent and transparent.

So, when we gather in Brighton we trust that as a community of international scholars we can live out these 5 principles and demonstrate our commitment to creating space for positive, constructive and respectful dialogues. I believe we can and should make a deep and collective effort to welcome with generosity and compassion all EECERA colleagues who have had the courage to make the journey to conference from conflict zones or from threatened communities, often at significant personal risk, and that we can collectively ensure their experience is a positive, safe and supportive one.

I am very much looking forward to meeting up with you all in September and that we will each have a rich, rewarding and inspiring experience.






Professor Chris Pascal, EECERA President

On behalf of the EECERA Board of Trustees