NERA Preconference workshop on 31 May 2022

Welcome to participate in a NERA Preconference workshop on inclusive and early childhood perspectives on Wellbeing

hosted by NERA Network 3 (Early Childhood Research) and Network 12 (Inclusive Education)

Tuesday, 31 May 2022 at 13.00-17.15

 Location: University of Iceland, Reykjavik

‘No cost’ for the pre-conference, just pay own costs if you join for dinner

Programme (room to be advised)

  • Coffee & light snack on arrival prior to 13.00
  • 13.00-13.45 – round circle introductions and brief overview of our individual research
  • 13.45-14.30Step 1. Inspirational snapshots of research (45 minutes) – Heidi’s presentation
  • 14.30-15.30 – Step 2. Moving towards forming an understanding of wellbeing in educational research contexts in small groups (60 minutes)
  • 15.300-15. 50coffee/tea break and snack
  • 15.50. 17.00 – Step 3. Developing project ideas for these contexts (in small groups and then jointly) (70 minutes).
  • 17.00-17.15 network future plans and summary
  • 17.15- 18.30 check in to hotels followed by optional network dinner at own expense

Registration information link:

DEADLINE for registration is Sunday 1 May 2022.

Keynote abstract:

Building a big picture! Inclusive early childhood education developing societal wellbeing

In the Nordic countries the combined population is over 26 million and the countries’ educational systems have received a lot of attention during the last decade. These countries score high in for instance quality of life and children’s educational outcomes. Much of this has to do with policy, for instance well-established political intentions for families, children, and the education system. This includes a development across the Nordic countries of policies that promote equality for all with equal educational opportunities (see Garvis, Harju-Luukkainen, Sheridan & Williams, 2019). Human wellbeing is the goal of social policy in the Nordic countries as well and there are multiple societal indicators measuring different aspects of wealth, educational outcome, quality of life and so on, all revealing different aspects of societal wellbeing, the challenge is that there is no clear definition on what wellbeing is and the notion of wellbeing is multidimensional and interdisciplinary. According to Hirvilammi and Helne (2014) there is a need of a more profound interest in the context of wellbeing and a need of a more holistic and broader understanding of human needs and wellbeing, around which sustainable societies can be built. In the educational context the wellbeing can be seen through individual, group and societal perspectives and notions like inclusion, equity and children’s rights are in the center of it.

 The education system across the Nordic countries have adopted international frameworks and the entire education systems, starting from ECEC (Early Childhood Education and Care) are formed around key principles on equity and full participation possibilities for all children. A large body of literature is pointing out to the benefits of education for the individual but also for the society. In this discussion the importance of early childhood education is very much highlighted. Policymakers across the countries have understood the importance of high-quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) and that it has both long- and short-term effects on children. Research on ECEC has shown that high-quality ECEC can significantly benefit children’s academic, learning, social and behavioral outcomes as well as their self-esteem, and attitudes towards lifelong learning, among other important factors (OECD 2018; Baustad et. al., 2018; Hanssen, 2019). Therefore, one part of education is children’s rights to participate into special education as well. At the core of such interest is the principle of inclusion. This principle is embedded, in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), in UNESCO’s The World Declaration on Education for All (1990) and The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education: Access and Quality (1994), which have all contributed to shaping the development of the ECEC of the Nordic countries. Inclusion promoting access, participation and learning opportunities for all, has become a worldwide guiding principle for ECEC, comprising special education (Hanssen et al., 2021). However, inclusion is not only about special education, but about individual, policy and practice level perspectives on inclusion impacting the individual child’s educational possibilities (Hausstätter and Vik, 2021). Therefore, inclusion cannot be universally understood in all countries or even in educational spaces, and there is no model of inclusive education that fits all (Hanssen and Khitruk, 2021).

In this presentation I will give audience inspirational snapshots of my research connected to early childhood education, special education, inclusion as well as to other areas connected to individual and societal wellbeing. After the talk, audience will be challenged in workshops to jointly build bridges between different perspectives building societal wellbeing in educational contexts and further to develop international project ideas out of these.

Step 1. Inspirational snapshots of research (30-45 minutes)

Step 2. Moving towards forming an understanding of wellbeing in educational research contexts in small groups (60 minutes)

Step 2. Developing project ideas for these contexts (in small groups and then jointly) (90 minutes).

Heidi Harju-Luukkainen (Ph.D.) is a Professor at Nord University in Norway and Professor and Vice Director at the University of Jyväskylä, Kokkola University Consortium in Finland. She is also a Professor of Early Childhood Education at the Tampere University. Sheholds a Ph.D. in education, special education teacher qualification and a qualification in leadership and management. She has published more than 200 international books, journal articles and reports as well as worked on more than 30 projects globally. Harju-Luukkainen has worked at top ranked universities in the USA like UCLA, USC as well as in many Nordic research universities. She has developed education programs for universities, been a Principal Investigator of PISA sub-assessments in Finland and served as a board professional. Her research areas are early childhood education, justice in education, and international student assessment.

NERA Network 3 – Early Childhood Research

Welcome to the network pages for NERA Network 3 – Early Childhood Research!


NERA Network Meeting Minutes Uppsala 2019

Annual Report and March Minutes Turku 2020


NERA Network Meeting Agenda Turku 2020


The editor of the journal Sustainability is inviting submissions for a special issue on sustainability of families and child welfare. This is a subject dear to the heart of many EC researchers. If you wish to express interest in a special issue, please make contact with Kaisa Pihlainen by 19 May with a short expression of interest, with submission expected by September. Details of the special issue at this link: