5 September 2017
A personal view of the Department of Educational Research as it celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in 2017.

I started working at Lancaster University in 1976.  Curiously, the intellectual heat around the Department at the point of my arrival had nothing to do with my nearly completed PhD but rather more with a certain "Teaching Styles and Pupil Progress" published in the April of that same year by Neville Bennett. Neville was at that point a lecturer in the Department, set to become Head of Department and Professor prior to leaving for Exeter where he duly became Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor.

Neville's move to Exeter was just one of the many such moves made by people who had part of their career at Lancaster. Former members of staff have taken up senior roles in Universities across the country and around the world. You will find them, or their records, from East Anglia to Sydney. I am not even going to start a list, as I will certainly offend by omission, but such a list would be impressive.

Teaching Styles was firmly located in the educational processes of the primary school, and, with some important exceptions, that is out-with the foci of attention of much of the current Educational Research profile. The Department has, in many ways, come full circle. Founded by Professor Alec Ross 50 years ago as a research centre intended to explore the innovations in Higher Education being attempted at Lancaster University, much of that initial focus on Higher Education and innovation (especially the technological) has again come to the fore, with great success.

The Department has run a variety of programmes, at Undergraduate, Masters and PhD level and through its programmes the Department has had an outstanding impact internationally through its current and former students.

Running throughout the 50 years is the Department's concern with social justice. This has been demonstrated particularly in research concerned with aspects of gender and the impact of gender roles and stereotypes upon social practices, most especially, of course, those involved in education.  It is good to see a growing concern within the Department with corresponding effects of ethnicity, sexuality, disability and social class. All these concerns have found expression and wider audiences via the Department's new range of on-line Doctoral Programmes.

Educational Research looks and feels very different from the place I entered in 1976. Folk have come and gone. Some have passed on from more than just the Department, some expectedly, some not. All are greatly missed.

In spite of many changes, fundamentally the place remains the same. It is a unique place for an academic to work in the discipline of Education in that it is the only Department of Education in the U.K. never to have engaged in Initial Teacher Education.  The Department has always had a strong sense of community and collegiality. Those characteristics have served the old place well over the past 50 years. They will, I hope, continue to do so for the next 50.

Edited from an original piece by Colin Rogers, Emeritus Professor of Education
See Colin’s Mahara page for the full version.