The twin aims of the WCCES are “to promote the study of comparative and international education throughout the world and enhance the academic status of this field; and to bring comparative education to bear on the major educational problems of the day by fostering co-operative action by specialists from different parts of the world.” In seeking to achieve these aims, the WCCES President should play several important roles. Accordingly, my vision for a WCCES Presidency centers on three key components:
1. Promoting an International Dialogue in Comparative Education
Throughout my academic career, I have continually addressed what I consider to be the theoretical and policy “debts” of comparative education. As President, I would like to work around some of these challenges in promoting a more forceful comparative education in theory, research, policy and practice. Yet these challenges cannot be tackled by one institution or by one individual alone. We need a dialogue across cultures, identities and institutions. If elected President, I will use the resources and visibility of UCLA, a world-class university, and the Presidency of WCCES to promote this dialogue among different communities, constituencies and stakeholders. As I see it, this dialogue should encompass at least three central foci. The first should bring together the voices of the South and the North to explore key issues such as diversity, social justice education and multiculturalism. Another foci must bridge the gap among social movements, community organizations and domestic governments and institutions vis a vis the workings of international, bilateral and multilateral organizations. A third foci for dialogue should include the possible connections between international comparative education as a field of study –including three main dimensions as outlined by my colleague and collaborator Robert Arnove: a scientific dimension, a pragmatic dimension and a global understanding dimension– with institutions and fields concerned with ethnic studies, gender studies and area studies.
2. Reinforcement of the Scientific Commitment of Comparative and International Education
Languages constitute identities. Following the example of the International Sociological Association (ISA) and the International Political Science Association (IPSA), it is imperative that we expand the working languages of our World Congresses. If we add Spanish as a third official working language, it will enhance the participation not only of Spanish speakers but also of Portuguese speakers, practitioners and scholars in World Congresses–more than 60 percent of the papers submitted for the Buenos Aires World Congress are in Spanish or Portuguese.
The institutional expansion and strengthening of comparative education in all regions is another one of my key priorities, particularly creating more societies in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East.
We also need to document the experiences, thinking, history and legacies in the field. The creation of a series of video documentaries will be a priority of my administration. These 30-minute videos will constitute a resource that will be systematically and continually included in the website of the WCCES, providing an important source of institutional and organizational memory.
3. In-between World Congresses Institutional Initiatives
Each World Congress creates unique opportunities for research and scholarship communication, along with possibilities for impacting policy and practice. But the energy and synergy that is created in the congresses need to be reinforced with specific practices and policies during the time between meetings. I would like to organize mid-term meetings, which will also be an opportunity for the annual meeting of the WCCES board. I will also renew the practice of pre-congress meetings in the region, with the goal of creating more enthusiasm for and participation in the World Congresses.
A second initiative will be to develop a model of international and continuing consultation with societies to assess the state-of-the-art in comparative education teaching, research and practice. In addition I would like to set up a process of consultations with New Scholars in all national societies, with the findings incorporated into the WCCES website. They are the next generation, and their voices are essential. Including their voices will also contribute to the transparency of the work of the societies and the WCCES.