You can click here to download the conference slide template for your presentation – this is optional.

Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

In 2011 Frances Fitzgerald was appointed Ireland's first ever Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Among the key priorities she outlined are the need to protect children by putting Children First on a statutory footing, to deliver a Children's Referendum, to establish a dedicated agency for Children and Family Services, to continue to offer a free pre-school year for children, to develop youth services throughout the country, to end the practice of sending under-18s to St Patricks Institution, to open inter-country adoptions with countries such as Vietnam and to improve adoption and fostering systems in Ireland.

Stuart Brown, M.D.
Medical doctor, Psychiatrist, Clinical Researcher,
and Founder, National Institute for Play

Dr. Stuart Brown is a medical doctor, psychiatrist and clinical researcher but also a major proponent of the importance of play. He has found a strong correlation between success and playful activity through his research of animal behavior and more than 6,000 “play histories” of people with all different backgrounds. Brown’s book Play explains why play is essential to the development of our social skills, adaptability, intelligence, creativity, ability to problem solve and more. To further his efforts, Brown founded The National Institute for Play, a non-profit committed to bringing unrealized knowledge, practices, and benefits of play into public life through continuing research.

Prof. Margaret Carr
Director, Early Years Research Centre / Co-Director, Early Childhood Learning and Exemplar Project

Professor Margaret Carr is Professor of Education and Director of the Early Years Research Centre at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. Formerly a kindergarten teacher, she was a co-Director of the Early Childhood Curriculum Development project that developed a national early childhood curriculum for New Zealand in 1996 (TeWhāriki). Since that time she has been involved in a number of research projects with teachers and colleagues on teaching and learning in early childhood settings and schools. Professor Carr developed, with teachers, narrative assessment practice that they called ‘Learning Stories’, the subject of a 2001 book: Assessment in Early Childhood Settings: Learning Stories. A recently published new book entitled Learning Stories: constructing learner identities in the early years was written with Wendy Lee. The major focus of her research has been early childhood education environments, opportunities and outcomes.

Pat Kane
Writer, musician, consultant and activist

Pat Kane, 49, is a writer, musician, consultant and activist. He is the author of The Play Ethic (Macmillan 2004) & the forthcoming Radical Animal. Pat is an advocate of, and researcher into, the power and potential of play, making the case for more play-oriented strategies & policies to communities, companies & governments across the world. He is also a board member of the YesScotland campaign for Scottish independence, and one half of the pop band Hue & Cry.

Ms. Wendy Lee
Director, Educational Leadership Project / Co-Director, Early Childhood Learning and Exemplar Project

Ms. Wendy Lee is currently the Director of the Educational Leadership Project (a professional education provider for early childhood teachers) and also the Co-Director of the Early Childhood Learning and Exemplar Project with Professor Margaret Carr. She has over 35 years involvement in the ECE field (teaching, tutoring, lecturing, professional support, management and leadership roles). Other current projects include working as a researcher with Professor Margaret Carr on three projects: Marsden Project ‘Dispositions in a Social Context,’ the ‘Roskill South Centre of Innovation Project,’ and more recently, the ‘Greerton ECC Centre of Innovation Project’. Wendy has a passionate interest in political issues as they affect and impact on early childhood education. Her special interests include professional education, leadership, assessment, curriculum, planning, & information communications technology (especially the use of computers as an integrated tool in ECE settings).

Prof. Kathleen Lynch
Professor of Equality Studies, University College Dublin

Kathleen Lynch is the Professor of Equality Studies at University College Dublin, where she also holds a Senior Lectureship in Education. She is Head of the UCD School of Social Justice.

Her major area of equality research has been in education, but for the last 10 years she have also been working on issues of egalitarian theory and practice with colleagues in Equality Studies. She has been a major author of published two significant works in the field: Equality: From Theory to Action (2004, 2009) and Affective Equality: Love Care and Injustice (2009). The latter was listed as one of Ireland's 100 best books in 2009 by the Irish Times. She has published extensively in academic journals.

From 2007 to 2010, she was an advisor to the EU Directorate Generalate on Education and Culture (DGEAC) as a member of the European Network of Experts in the Social Sciences on Education and Training. She has held a number of positions outside of UCD. Most recently she was a visiting fellow at Lucy Cavendish College and the School of Education, Cambridge University in 2006 and one of 12 visiting global experts involved in the GEXcel (Gender Excellence Research programme) in Sweden at the Universities of Linkoping and Orebro in 2010. She served on the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences from 2010-12.

Her most recent book is New Managerialism in Education: Commercialization, Carelessness and Gender (2012) Palgrave Macmillan. It was co-authored with B. Grummell and D.Devine. It is a study of the impact of new managerial and neoliberal policies on primary, secondary and tertiary education.

Kathleen is an academic and an activist. She has been guided by the belief that the purpose of scholarship and research is not just to understand the world but to change it for the good of all humanity. To this end, she played a key role in founding the UCD Equality Studies Centre in 1990 and the UCD School of Social Justice in 2005. She has been involved in many social justice campaigns, and works closely with grassroots groups on actions for change.


Dr. Stuart Shanker
Director, Milton and Ethel Harris Research Initiative

Stuart Shanker is Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at York University and Director of the Milton and Ethel Harris Research Initiative at York University (www.mehri.ca). He was educated at the University of Toronto, where he won several awards, including a scholarship to study at Oxford, where he obtained a First in PPE and won the Marian Buck Fellowship at Christ Church, where he obtained a First in a B Phil in Philosophy and a D Phil with Distinction in Philosophy.

Among his awards are a Canada Council Doctoral Fellowship and Postdoctoral Fellowship; a Calgary Institute for the Humanities Fellowship; a University of Alberta Mactaggart Fellowship; an Iszaak Walton Killam Fellowship; and the Walter L Gordon Fellowship at York University. He has received many grants, among them a $7,000,000 grant to establish MEHRI, a state-of-the-art cognitive and social neuroscience centre.

Among his recent monographs are Calm, Alert and Learning: Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation (2012); Human Development in the 21st Century (with Alan Fogel and Barbara King, 2008); El rizoma de la racionalidad (with Pedro Reygadas, 2008); Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (a member of the PDM Steering Committee, 2006); Early Years Study II (with J. Fraser Mustard and Margaret McCain, 2007); The First Idea (with Stanley Greenspan, 2004); Toward a Psychology of Global Interdependency (with Stanley Greenspan, 2002); Wittgenstein’s remarks on the foundations of AI (1998); Apes, language and the human mind (with Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Talbot Taylor, 1998); and Wittgenstein and the Turning-Point in the Philosophy of mathematics (1998). He is the editor of several collections, among them The Routledge History of Philosophy (with G.H.R. Parkinson, 1994-2000); Language, Culture, Self (with David Bakhurst, 2001); and Ludwig Wittgenstein: Critical Assessments (with David Kilfoyle, 2002).

Dr Shanker served as Director of the Council of Human Development for ten years; Director of the Canada-Cuba Research Alliance for six years; and he was President of the Council of Early Child Development in Canada for two years. Over the past decade he has served as an advisor on early child development to government organizations across Canada and the US and countries around the world, among them Australia, Bosnia, Colombia, England, Hungary, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Peru, Romania, and Serbia. Most recently he served as the 2012 Thinker in Residence for Western Australia. He is currently rolling out a self-regulation classroom initiative with several Superintendants under the auspices of the Ministry of Education in British Columbia (www.self-regulation.ca).