On Friday 22nd September 2017, over 80 people gathered together for a day of academic and social events to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Department of Educational Research.

From its foundation in 1967 as a research unit exploring the then radical changes taking place in Higher Education through to its current role as a world leading Department offering innovative online Doctoral programmes, the Dept has forged a unique and important role for itself. Marking all of this in a single symposium was bordering on the impossible. However, following on from a welcome by the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education, Professor Sharon Huttly, a trio of very distinguished ex-members of the Department’s academic staff proceeded to highlight many of the contributions the Department had made. 

Professor Noel Entwistle, now Emeritus Professor at Edinburgh, took us through his early work into the nature of student learning in HE conducted up to the time of his departure from Lancaster in 1978. Professor Rosemary Deem (now at Royal Holloway), who left Lancaster in 2001, took us through her personal career journey. This was skilfully used to highlight the links between her research into social justice in education and her own experience of the lack of it, particularly in relation to gender equity. Professor Peter Goodyear, at Lancaster until 2003 and now at Sydney University, explored his work into aspects of Technology Enhanced Learning, which had had a significant and enduring impact on the work of the Department and the broader University at Lancaster. 

Each of these speakers were supported ably by two current staff members. Gemma Derrick and Kirsty Finn supporting Noel Entwistle, Susan Cranmer and Nicola Ingram supporting Rosemary Deem while Kyungmee Lee and Brett Bligh added to the contributions of Peter Goodyear. 

These presentations, together with contributions from the audience, demonstrated how the work of the previous staff members had both informed that of the current members while also setting a high standard for creativity and innovation that prevents that earlier work in any way constricting what now takes place. The evening session provided proof that the Department continues to be as lively and as friendly as ever. Cake was cut, toasts were made, old friendships rekindled and dancing (allegedly) took place. 

The founding members through to the newest recruits joined in wishing the Department well, and vowed to do what they could to be back for 2067!