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CIES Western Regional Conference Concludes Oct. 16

Published: October 15, 2010

The Comparative International Education Society’s (CIES) Western Regional conference, hosted by CSULB for the first time, will conclude Saturday, Oct. 16. The conference theme is “Reimagining Centers and Peripheries.”

The plenary session was held on Oct., 14 in the Anatol Center. The keynote address and dinner, also held in the Anatol Center, will be Friday, Oct. 15. Other concurrent sessions will be held in classrooms in the AS building.

Approximately 130 students, scholars and staff members are expected to attend the conference over three days. Roughly a third of the attendees are CSULB faculty and students. The remainder will represent institutions from throughout Southern California and the Western region including Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada and British Columbia. More guests are expected from China, Taiwan, South Korea, Israel, Spain and Mexico.

CIES is an organization comprised of approximately 2,000 academics, practitioners and policymakers who study education in the international realm, explained Advanced Studies in Education and Counseling’s (ASEC) Laura Portnoi, who is on the core organizing committee for the event.

“They study educational topics cross-nationally (e.g., standardized testing, bilingual education, teacher education) and global trends (e.g., global competition, globalization, privatization, and the influence of international organizations),” said Portnoi. “Though the organization is based in the U.S., the society’s members come from educational institutions and organizations worldwide. CIES has been in existence for over 50 years and hosts an annual conference in the spring that attracts educators from around the world.” The CIES Western Regional has been hosted in recent years by UCLA, the University of Hawaii and the University of British Columbia.

Portnoi, an ASEC member since 2005, points out that hosting the conference is an honor for the Social and Cultural Analysis (SCA) of Education program, the ASEC department and the college. “SCA has recently redesigned its curriculum and has an International Contexts area of emphasis. Our program is one of the few in Southern California to offer a social foundations program with comparative international education as one of its foci,” she said. “We are delighted to welcome scholars, students and practitioners from around the U.S. and several other countries. This conference is also a wonderful opportunity for students to be engaged in cutting-edge research in the field. Three SCA students have served on the core conference committee, and many students from the participating universities will present papers and/or attend the conference.”

The core conference committee consisting of Portnoi and SCA graduate students Nina Flores, Dario Fernandez and Andrew Kretz, have planned the conference for eight months. “We generated the theme through our initial meetings and chose a topic focused on addressing social injustices worldwide because it aligns with our program’s mission and focus as well as the college’s vision and mission,” she said.

Portnoi and Kretz will present a manuscript they co-authored on the tension between global competition and employment equity in which they analyze the core value statements and missions of three South African institutions. This co-authored paper is due for publication this year in Education and Society, an international peer-reviewed journal based in Australia.

Despite the challenges, Portnoi has enjoyed planning the event and benefited from the assistance of colleagues from around the college and university.

“Hosting the conference brings substantial recognition to our program, our college and the university,” she said. “The challenges have been with starting almost from scratch because this is a one-time event. We met with the hosts from UCLA who organized the conference last year and we learned a great deal from them. However, there was much that we had to learn about hosting a conference at CSULB in particular. We were fortunate to have the help of ASEC Department and college staff who have worked on large events before and were able to provide advice and assistance. We also consulted with the folks who host the Comparative Literature conferences to seek their advice.” She noted how beneficial these on-campus resources were in preparing for the event.

“I have had a wonderful experience thus far, as I know the student organizer’s have,” said Portnoi. “Hosting a conference is a wonderful way to interact with colleagues and to have the opportunity to network and learn about exciting new research in the field.”

–Richard Manly