A Global Conference for the Global Education Community

Carolyn Shields has been an educator for over fifty years, working in both K-12 schools and higher education. Her research and teaching focus has been transformative leadership theory—a way of providing just, equitable, inclusive, excellent, and socially-just education for all students. Throughout her career, she has been involved globally in research that supports school leaders, both formal and informal, in their endeavors to create inclusive and socially-just learning environments for all students regardless of race, religion, color, creed, or social situation. These activities have brought many accolades in addition to world-wide recognition of her research. In her current position as vice-president of the Commonwealth Council for Educational Administration and Leadership (CCEAM), she writes about her hopes for its biennial conference, to be held in Kuala Lumpur September 1 – 4, 2020. 

As I moved from my 20 years in K-12 education to a position in Higher Education, my first “academic home” was a community associated with the Canadian Association for Studies in Educational Administration (CASEA). As an active member of that group, I soon became the Canadian representative to CCEAM, a diverse group of educators in countries associated with the reorganized British Commonwealth. This latter organization’s mission, as our logo indicates, is to support and enhance “Leading across Nations and Cultures” with an emphasis on the values of “equity, global awareness, justice, respect, fair mindedness, networking, excellence, heritage, research, and exchange.” A recent example of CCEAM’s activities and collaborative work is its development of a Commonwealth School Leadership Framework, soon to be piloted in several African and Pacific countries.

To that end, as current vice-president of CCEAM, my role is to chair the committee responsible for our biennial conference and to promote CCEAM’s activities worldwide. The conference brings together researchers from both developed and developing countries and offers a network for exchange of ideas and collaboration into research, teaching, and professional development activities. This year’s conference, Educational Leadership for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship, is hosted jointly by CCEAM and MSEAM, the Malaysia and Malaysian Association for Education and marks the 50th anniversary of CCEAM and a turning point in the organization’s mission and membership aspirations. It will offer an important forum for reflecting on the role of educational leadership as an important catalyst for sustainable development and global citizenship. Moreover, the joint sponsorship will ensure multiple opportunities to interact with local educators and to better understand local cultures.  

As we look back and celebrate our past, we will honor past presidents from Australia, Canada, Cyprus, England, New Zealand, and South Africa who have worked to support excellence in educational leadership throughout the world, and to learn from those whose voices are often not heard. Our executive meets virtually, as well as for several days prior to each conference, and comprises a representative from each region: Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, East and West Africa, Europe, the Pacific, and Southern Africa. Member organizations all have a representative on the Board to ensure that every area is represented in discussions about activities or policy.

As times and needs change, we are currently revisiting our membership structure to broaden our base even further and become more inclusive of groups, organizations, and individuals who want to affiliate with CCEAM to access a truly global forum for conversations and research about excellence in leadership. In other words, WE NEED YOU! And we invite you to participate in our upcoming conference. Because we are in a transition state, looking to re-establish ourselves for the future, our website is under revision, however, you will find information about conference proposals, registration, and housing on our web site, as well as information about conference themes and our diverse, excellent, and committed group of keynote speakers (cceam.org). Our sub-themes related to sustainable development and global citizenship, to communities of practice, policy and governance provide multiple options for dialogue about these important topics and opportunities for presenting a wide range of related research. At this upcoming conference, our focus will be how to have a continued impact globally in the face of current volatile political, social, and fiscal global challenges. Sustainability and global citizenship seem ever more important concepts and it is important for scholars and practitioners to work together to address these important challenges. 

Those who participate in our conference will find a group of welcoming, inclusive, and reflective researchers and practitioners and enjoy adequate free time for networking and informal interaction as well as opportunities for cultural activities and opportunities for school visits and cultural tours both before and after the conference. We are excited about the location in Kuala Lumpur which will represent our third conference in Asia, and the first since 2004, with previous Asian conferences having been held in Hong Kong and Singapore. Kuala Lumpur is located at the heart of Asia, the largest and fastest growing economic region in the world, and is home to a vibrant mix of cultures. The city itself is both safe and exciting; moreover, served by over 60 airlines, it provides easy access to the rest of Asia as well as to other regions. 

On a personal note, the contacts I have made through CCEAM have led to lasting friendships and enriching collaborations. Without CCEAM, I would likely not have spent my first sabbatical leave in 2001 in New Zealand and learned about efforts to improve education for Maori students (as Maori) or been honored by invitations to deliver keynote addresses to a global audience at CCEAM conferences in both Australia and Canada. 

Carolyn Shields

These contacts have permitted me to access networks of schools and educators in multiple countries, to conduct interviews with school leaders, and to provide international examples of practice as I have developed and clarified the theory of Transformative Leadership. Each site for the CCEAM biennial conference offers new opportunities for learning, and exciting new examples of how educational leaders around the world are working to lead excellent, inclusive, and socially-just schools. We hope you will accept this invitation to join us in Kuala Lumpur. 

We thank Carolyn for sharing with us how being involved with CCEAM has enriched her career as a Professor of Educational Leadership. To learn more about the 2020 conference visit CCEAM’s website.

Thanks for reading!

Maxie and Paula