14th International ECHA Conference, Ljubljana, 17-20 Sep 2014

In 2014 the conference was held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, from September 17–20. The title of the conference was: “Rethinking Giftedness: Giftedness in the Digital Age”. Through an examination of current theory, research and practice the conference aimed to explore the possibilities and challenges that the “digital age” offers to the education of the gifted across the lifespan. In addition the conference aimed to highlight current trends in research and practice considering how to best support and nurture giftedness now and in the future.

The conference was held in the hotel Four Points by Sheraton.

Four Points Sheraton
Four Points Hotel, Ljubljana

There were five keynote lectures and six keynote speakers, as follows: Joan Freeman (UK) and Péter Csermely (Hungary): “Discussion on the Past, Present and Future of ECHA”, Albert Ziegler (Germany): “An overdue step into the future: Gifted education goes digital”, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (USA): “Creativity in the Digital Age” (video conference), Norbert Jaušovec (Slovenia): “The Gifted Brain” and Marta Fulop (Hungary): “Do Contests and Competition Enrich or Ruin the Life of the Gifted?”. In addition, there were also nine invited speakers: Sheyla Blumen (Peru), Jasna Cvetković Lay (Croatia), Csilla Fuszek (Hungary), Lianne Hoogeveen (The Netherlands), Martin Kubala (The Czech Republic), Slavica Marsić (Serbia), Peter Merrotsy (Australia), Carrie Winstely (UK) and Frank Worrell (USA).

The introductory lecture, which followed the opening ceremony, was team based. It was moderated by Margaret Sutherland, a long-time member of ECHA and a member of the ECHA executive committee. The lecture featured Joan Freeman, founding president of the ECHA and Péter Csermely, the current ECHA president. Joan Freeman focused on the very beginning of the ECHA and vividly walked through the three decades of ECHA work, while Péter Csermely presented the modern vision of ECHA which was based on stimulating future research and professional work, collaboration and social networking.

stage Ljubljana
Péter Csermely, Joan Freeman and Margaret Sutherland on stage, Ljubljana

“I am sure that this 14th ECHA Conference will make ECHA even stronger and happier. My vision is to make this enrichment of ECHA a self-maintaining process, where young talents of our days will serve as teachers, mentors, role models of the future talented generations and will strengthen ECHA maintaining its high standards and multi-coloured traditions. Ultimately, we need to build a talent-friendly continent here in Europe.“
(Péter Csermely, President of ECHA)

The evening lecture on Thursday the 18th was delivered by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, one of the founders of positive psychology, who – through a video conference – discussed his positive view on the role and influence of the digital age on the evolution of creativity as the central human activity.

csikszentmihaly Ljubljana
Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, Ljubljana

“In this well-attended conference, 250 different experts from 40 countries participated. During the four days, the educators, teachers, psychologists, pedagogues, university professors, and researchers delivered 186 research and professional contributions, among them 7 practical demonstrations, 8 workshops, 29 posters, 15 contributions within 4 symposiums, and 113 individual papers within 31 thematic sections. Two additional meetings were organized as well. The first was aimed at the possibilities ECHA organisation can offer for the international cooperation in educating teachers for working with gifted students. The second addressed (under)graduate students in the methodology of researching giftedness and the students were able to discuss open issues with established researchers from the entire world. In addition, the 2014 General Assembly was held on the second day of the conference and ECHA members agreed that ECHA supports, regulates and guides the formation of a European Talent Support Network.”
(Mojca Juriševič)

During this conference rewards were given for the presentations on posters, which aimed at giving more support to this type of contributions due to the fact that posters are mostly delivered by younger researchers, original preliminary research presenters or the most recent innovations in learning and teaching practice.    

A full archived site of ECHA 2014 conference is available at http://echa2014.mib.si/. A video report is available at https://youtu.be/ncsEg_54Dx4.

ECHA Ljubljana front of flyer
Flyer Ljubljana
Program book cover Ljubljana
Program book Ljubljana