When I started my doctoral training in Northwestern’s learning sciences program nearly 25 years ago, I didn’t know what the “learning sciences” were; and I’m not sure anybody there at the time did either. When I took my first faculty job a few years later, I continued to struggle when people asked me to define the “learning sciences.” This year ISLS marks its fifteenth year as an organization, and the growth and maturation we have seen in the learning sciences as a field over the last two decades is due in no small part to the efforts and vision of all the people who’ve come before me in growing our Society into a mature organization.

Over these last fifteen years, both research in the learning sciences and the scholars who do that work have gotten more diverse. When I looked into the audience at the closing ceremony for CSCL 2017 this past June, I saw a more diverse group of learning scientists than I saw 15 years ago, or even 5 years ago. We now count members from more than 35 countries throughout the world. As learning scientists, our work is committed to studying and improving learning in the myriad diverse communities in which we work, and the people in them whom we serve. At a time when the ideal of diversity is under attack in America, Europe, and elsewhere, we should celebrate the diversity we have in our Society, and strengthen our commitments to equity for all learners, everywhere. 

As president, my primary goal this year is to develop initiatives to increase the diversity of our membership. I would like us to expand into parts of the world we have yet to reach, including Africa, Latin America, and South Asia, building on work begun by the Membership Committee and past-president Carolyn Rose. I also look forward to continuing our ongoing efforts to build bridges to other communities engaged in learning research. Our organization and our research will benefit from and have more impact through engagement with diverse perspectives. Fifteen years from now, I hope ISLS can be proud to count members hailing from and committed to serving all peoples of the world.     


William 'Bill' Sandoval
President, International Society of the Learning Sciences

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