Speakers, delegates and students from all over the world congregated at the University of Suffolk this week for the two day biennial Children and Childhoods Conference.
The keynote speakers were Dr Afua Twum-Danso Imoh of the University of Sheffield and Professor Katherine Runswick-Cole of Manchester Metropolitan University both leaders in the progressive field of childhood studies.
Dr Afua Twum-Danso Imoh is a Lecturer in the Sociology of Childhood. At the conference she led critical discussions about her publications and research relating to contemporary debates on the subject. Her presentation was focused on the comparative nature of childhood in the global north and south and the impact of cultural values such as reciprocity, respect, and responsibility on universal children’s rights standards. In her keynote speech she explored the impact of globalization on the concept of childhood.
She said of the conference “I’m very keen to support other institutions and other childhood conferences especially when there is an international angle. There is a really interesting spread of presentations as well. The conference provides great networking opportunities with all sorts of people from different countries and in different professions all focused on childhood studies. It provides a wonderful opportunity for researchers at all stages of their career. There were lots of questions and interaction, much to learn.”
Professor Katherine Runswick-Cole is Professor of Critical Disability Studies & Psychology. She has published extensively in the field of critical disability studies and her keynote posed the question ‘Do we need disabled children’s childhood studies?’ In her presentation Professor Runswick-Cole, an expert in critical disability studies, provided a potent exploration the oppressive practices associated with disablism, the ways in which society is marked by what she terms as ‘the stains of disablism and the exclusion of people with impairments from wider society.
Professor Katherine Runswick-Cole said "It was fantastic to be part of this international conference presenting alongside colleagues engaged in exciting research about children at the beautiful waterside campus.”
Delegates and speakers attended the conference from twenty countries including America, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Malaysia, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Taiwan with some delegates returning for a third time after the success of previous conferences.
Topics discussed included creativity and the arts, participation and rights, spaces and places, disability, health and wellbeing, innovative methods of researching with children and the debate generated has been characterised as strong, critical, inclusive and transforming.
Brianne Mason from Indiana State University accompanied her colleagues Dr Maureen Johnson and Dr Wan-Ju Jennifer Yen who were involved in one of the breakout discussions. Brianne said
"This is my first time in the UK and its beautiful here. I’ve been meeting lots of people, networking, getting different perspectives on different topics. Dr Johnson has talked about collaborating with candidates from the different countries that we have met here so I think that is definitely something for the future.” Brianne has this message for those considering attending the next conference “Come if you can, it is an amazing opportunity to not only network with people internationally but it’s an opportunity to learn. Constantly learning I think is the key to quality of life.”
Dr Allison Boggis, Course Leader for BA (Hons) Special Educational Needs and Disability Studies in the Department of Children, Young People and Education, said “The programme for this, our third biennial conference, celebrated the diversity of children and childhoods globally. The quality of the presentations was phenomenal and we were delighted to welcome so many delegates to the University of Suffolk.”
Professor Erica Joslyn, Head of Department for Children, Young People and Education, added “The study of children and childhoods continues to influence social and cultural norms across the world and the University is proud to provide a forum for a diverse group of academics to pursue the many strands within this field. In its third year the conference has facilitated active networks of researchers and practitioners to continue to push the boundaries of our global understanding of the value placed on children and childhoods today - with an eye to the future.”
The conference edition of Childhood Remixed, the University’s online journal for wider reading will be published shortly.
For more information about the courses within the Department of Children, Young People and Education click here
University of Suffolk Press Office
T: 01473 338476