“Surviving and Thriving: Education in Times of Change”
In 2017, IAFOR education conferences in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America brought together delegates from around the world to consider the theme of “Educating for Change”. The theme was approached from a variety of different perspectives, taking full advantage of the international diversity of the attendees with their myriad experiences. A recurring note throughout the conferences was the reference to the future, be it immediate or longer term, as being uncertain. The natural resilience and optimism of educators was counterbalanced by apprehension; with hope also came fear.
In the current period of great global political and economic instability, rising inequality and social unrest, the role of education within society has never been more important, but never more vulnerable. This brings us to our conference theme for 2018, which references these inherent vulnerabilities in both educational systems and the individual students and teachers, as well as the necessary resilience needed to not only survive, but also thrive.
How do we as teachers, administrators and policymakers adopt and adapt to change outside our control? How do we nurture and encourage positive change, through the excitement of the imagination, innovation and creativity? How can technologies be better used to help us teach, and to help students learn? How do we sustain and manage change? How can we react positively to negative change? How can we, our institutions and our students survive and thrive in these times of change?
The Local Context: Asia and Japan
The situation of education in Asia reflects the challenges of diversity in Asia itself. There are varied education systems and structures, as well as the wide gap between countries struggling to meet the most basic educational and human security needs, rapidly developing nations vying to compete on the global stage while attending to pressures of a growing population, and advanced economies with shrinking populations among them. The region hosts the world’s top performers in PISA and TIMMs and some of the most rapidly rising stars in the global university rankings, as well as some of the most underfunded, and underperforming systems in the world. There are many and varied challenges throughout the region that reflect and inform those experienced in other nations throughout this world.
The Asian Conference on Education has chosen a befitting city, Tokyo, Japan, as the venue. It is the seat of one of the oldest and powerful bureaucracies, the MEXT, that oversees the education from grade school to university that once symbolised the most desirable model of rapid development and modernisation. Today, the challenges that face the Japanese education system are one and the same as the challenges that face the entire country: changing to survive. Education for the national purpose is no longer working, and yet the institutional inertia hampers efforts to free the system to become effective, dynamic and competitive in the long run. At the forefront of these challenges are the universities that are strong in STEM subjects but widely underperform in global ranking in other areas, but the roots of the problem are to be found in the primary and secondary and tertiary sectors that are still conformist.
Unlike countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, with young and growing populations, Japan’s population is now falling, which presents it with a number of problems, but also an opportunity to use its universities and acquired expertise to help play a more active role in regional educational development. For one, while Japan may be unsure how to embrace multiculturalism, universities in particular are pressed to open up their doors to more foreign students to survive financially but more importantly to remain internationally relevant academically. Universities are the microcosmos of Japanese society as they engage with the diversity of a globalising world. As the pinnacle of the Japanese education system the change in the universities is an urgent necessity to inspire primary and secondary sectors as well as other countries in the region. It is a task of historical proportions as the first modern country to emerge from Asia, but one that would impart many important lessons for those who have followed in Japan’s footpath.
For our tenth annual Asian Conference on Education (ACE) in Tokyo, we are looking to confirm our commitment to providing the most engaging platform for exchanging ideas on education in Asia and beyond by bringing together our largest and most diverse group of scholars, educators, and policymakers to date, to exchange ideas, research and practice from their own backgrounds and contexts, and to draw on and be inspired by the local and international body of delegates from an expected 40+ different national backgrounds, as we come together to consider how we not only survive, but positively thrive, in these uncertain and changing times. Remember to submit early, and save the dates for your diary!
We look forward to seeing you in Tokyo in October!
Dr Tien-Hui Chiang, Zhengzhou University, China
Dr Joseph Haldane, The International Academic Forum (IAFOR), Japan
Dr Paul Lai, Nagoya University, Japan
Dr Tzu-Bin Lin, National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan
Dr Yvonne Masters, University of New England, Australia
Professor José McClanahan, Creighton University, USA
Professor Ted O’Neill, Gakushuin University, Japan
Justin Sanders, Osaka University, Japan
Dr Zachary Walker, University College London (UCL), UK
Over the years, the Asian Conference on Education (ACE) has brought together thousands of passionate scholars and educators from around the globe to discuss ideas critical to the development of education in Asia and beyond, making it one of the most respected, and longest running annual conferences focused on all levels of education in Asia.
ACE was the first conference organised by The International Academic Forum (IAFOR) in Osaka in 2009, when the organisation was founded. By the time the tenth Asian Conference on Education is held, some 20,000 academics will have presented at an IAFOR conference, whether in Asia, the Middle East, Europe or North America.
Founded in Japan at a time when academic conferences held in English did not exist (outside those organised by professional associations dedicated to English language teaching), IAFOR quickly found support for these among a growing number of scholars in Japan, Asia, and beyond. Participants came together to make friends, network, and, at a time of rapid globalisation and technological advances, explore the latest ideas. The conferences also encouraged the search for research synergies in the pursuit of addressing and finding solutions to many of the myriad and complex challenges presented by the modern world.
IAFOR now has university partners across the globe, counts some of the world’s foremost intellectuals as advisers, and boasts an interdisciplinary research centre in Osaka University’s School of International Public Policy. The organisation also has a conference program that spans three continents, and in a divided world, IAFOR’s founding principles of nurturing ideas, individuals and research projects across barriers of nation, culture, and discipline are more timely than ever.
Why Join an IAFOR Conference?
The International Academic Forum (IAFOR) welcomes academics from all over the world to our interdisciplinary conferences held in Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East. Our events provide a unique international, intercultural and interdisciplinary environment in which to hear the latest world-class research and network with leading academics, professionals and practitioners.
Our conferences are meticulously planned under the direction of prominent academics to ensure that they offer programmes of the highest level, and are supported by some of the world’s leading academic institutions, including the University of London (UK), Virginia Tech (USA), University of Barcelona (Spain), Waseda University (Japan), University of Sussex (UK), Medill School of Journalism (USA), Moscow State University (Russia) and The University of Tokyo, (Japan).
By facilitating dialogue between the world’s academics and thought leaders, IAFOR has become a pioneer in providing the research avenues and visionary development solutions that are necessary in our rapidly emerging globalised world. We welcome you to engage in this expanding global academic community of individuals and network of institutions, and look forward to seeing you at one of our future events.