President’s Address

A welcome message from the ISLS President, Ravit Golan Duncan

Ravit Duncan headshot

I want to share some of the key points I made during the closing session of ISLS2023. I hope they resonate with you and that we can act on these together to lift our scholarship, care for each other, and make a difference.

I believe we need to invest in our emerging and early career scholars through intergenerational learning within our community. The future of the society is shaped by their brilliance and consequential scholarship. To lift and support them we need our community elders, aunties and uncles among us, to continue mentoring and sharing their wisdom with our newcomers but also learning from them and their new ideas.

Progress in science, any science including ours, depends on pushing boundaries through new ideas and tools, questioning existing paradigms, and offering different lenses for making sense of the world. A plurality of ways of knowing has been, and continues to be, the success of our Society. Our strength is in this epistemic diversity, and we need to repeatedly and intentionally make space for different ways of being and knowing, especially those that have been traditionally marginalized and not legitimated.

Towards this end we need to continue nuancing our understanding of context through critical lenses that consider the historical and political dimensions of the places and spaces in which learning occurs. By political I mean the ways in which power, privilege, and resources are distributed in society and the hierarchies that result. These hierarchies, and the forces exerted by those at the top, are ubiquitous. They impact teachers, learners, and communities in ways that serve to either reproduce or disrupt the distribution of power and privilege, and the benefits or harms that ensue. Hierarchies of power and privilege are a global phenomenon resulting in different forms of inequities and injustice. While the manifestations of inequities look and feel different in different places, these socio-political forces are always there everywhere. We need to understand them better and across a variety of contexts.

I believe that through our varied lenses, through our critical perspectives, through our nuanced attention to context, including power and privilege, we can develop profound knowledge that is generative and consequential. Knowledge that can facilitate change towards greater wellbeing and a more democratic, sustainable, and just future.

To produce this sort of knowledge we must learn from each other, build shared understandings, and uphold the value of our different experiences, perspectives, and aims. We need to infrastructure this learning, sharing, and valuing — especially now, in this growth spurt we are experiencing and the complicated and challenging times and places we inhabit. Most importantly, and echoing Jan Hare’s emphasis on trust and relationships in her keynote at ISLS2023 — we need to build relationships of care for each other as humans, practitioners, and scholars.

Ravit Duncan
ISLS President 2023–2024