JustEd doctoral students’ key takeaways from ECER 2018

By on 18.09.2018 in Conferences, PhD thesis

Did you attend ECER 2018 in Bolzano, Italy? So did many of JustEd’s PhD students from the University of Helsinki – we asked them about their biggest key takeaways and the overall experiences from the conference.

For Ida Hummelstedt-Djedou, the conference provided a marvelous opportunity to connect on both a professional and social level:

“It was great to be surrounded with colleagues from all over the world and best of all was to get to know my own colleagues better, since the everyday life as a doctoral student is not always very social. Bolzano in itself was very beautiful, surrounded by mountains and medieval castles – I held my presentation in one of them.”

Castel Marrecio, Bolzano

Some of the ECER presentations were held at this beautiful castle, Castel Marrecio, Bolzano. Photo: Ida Hummelstedt

At the conference, Ida particularly appreciated the keynotes by Marco Catarci and Thomas Popkewitz:

“Catarci showed how brutal life can be for refugee and immigrant children growing up in Italy but never getting Italian citizenship, pleading for more humanity. I was also inspired by examples on ‘translanguaging’ from Luxemburg and Holland, where children get to use all their languages in kindergarten or school. It showed me how much still remains to be done regarding multilingualism in the Finnish context.”

In her own presentation, Ida spoke about the processes of inclusion and exclusion in categorization in school interaction. She has studied the categorization done by pupils regarding race, gender, and nationality, and what kinds of actions they achieve with the categorizations and what consequences this has for exclusion and inclusion.

“Some people were excited by the fact that I had done video observations and I showed a clip during the presentation. One Italian researcher thought my results were very depressing and asked for the connection between policy and practice, which is something we have tried to figure out in the MINTED project, that I’m engaged in.”

Ida Hummelstedt

In her own presentation, Ida Hummelstedt spoke about the processes of inclusion and exclusion in categorization in school interaction. Here at the castle where she gave her presentation.


Support system for self-doubt and solitude

Saija Volmari attended some paper sessions and keynotes and got useful comments when presenting her own paper:

“I attended some paper sessions and keynotes. Some interesting, others inspiring. I, of course, also presented my own paper (on the agenda-setting in higher education policy and politics in Finland) and got great comments. I now see I need to be much clearer and more precise in order to get my message across.”

Saija’s biggest breakthrough was the importance of the support system of like-minded colleagues:

“What really counts is to have a support system, a safety net to survive the inevitable moments of self-doubt and solitude that are such an integral part of this work. As to me and a whole bunch of us here in Helsinki, all that is already in place!”

“This trip taught me there are endless ways to do this work and mine is as good as any. Takes a whole lot of pressure off to admit that even in a role of a researcher, I cannot and do not want to be anything more, or less, than I am.

 Aarno Kauppila and Anna-Maija Niemi

PhD student Aarno Kauppila and postdoctoral researcher Anna-Maija Niemi also attended the conference together with Saija, Ida, Heidi, Tuuli and many more JustEd members. Photo: Ida Hummelstedt



Broadening horizons

Heidi Vartiainen especially enjoyed the unofficial networking with people at the conference, in addition to the Ötzi-museum, and the wonderful views in Bolzano. She also felt she got a great opportunity to broaden her horizons:

“I attended really interesting and useful sessions related to my own dissertation, the Mixed Classes and Pedagogical Solutions (MAPS) project, and the Local Educational Ethos (LEE) project. After getting the chance to listen to other interesting presentations, I feel like I can now better map my own research in the field.”

Bolzano, Italy. Photo: Ida Hummelstedt

Bolzano, Italy. Photo: Ida Hummelstedt

Heidi has sometimes wondered whether it is worth it to travel to conferences:

“I often feel I don’t get any feedback that is actually useful. However, this ECER conference confirmed to me that my own work might just make sense after hearing what other researchers are doing in different parts of Europe. I feel more confident about my own research and know better how to place it in the field.”


Community building

Tuuli From had two presentations at the conference – the first one was based on her own doctoral research, an ethnographic approach to language policies in educational spaces. The second one was a part of a symposium on ethnographic research on rural youth in education, based on a joint article written together with colleagues for the JustEd special issue in the journal Education Inquiry.

Tuuli From

Tuuli From enjoyed feeling particularly relaxed at the conference. Photo: Ida Hummelstedt

This year’s ECER was among the nicest conference experiences Tuuli has had as a doctoral student:

“From a scientific perspective, I was particularly happy about this year’s emphasis on spatial issues in my own network ‘Ethnography and Education’, which allowed me to listen to several relevant presentations and participate in interesting discussions on the topic.”

She also enjoyed feeling more relaxed:

“While approaching the end of the doctoral journey and having attended several international conferences already, you begin to know what to expect and the pressure about your own performance does not take all of your energy. I also realized it is not all about international networking, these trips are also important for community building with the colleagues you work with on a daily basis at the University of Helsinki.”

The theme for this year’s ECER conference was “Inclusion and Exclusion, Resources for Educational Research?”

Bolzano, Italy. Photo: Ida Hummelstedt

Bolzano, Italy. Photo: Ida Hummelstedt

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About the Author

About the Author: Charlotta Järf is in charge of the communications and marketing activities for JustEd, The Nordic Centre of Excellence, an international research network with 14 partner universities in 8 countries. With ten years of professional experience in Communications and Marketing, and five years as a TV, radio and newspaper journalist, Charlotta has a practical set of skills in strategical communications, PR, social media, graphic design, video and content production. .


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