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2016 SSEC Annual Conference


In November 2015 long-time SSEC members, Murry and Elizabeth Nelson traveled to Berlin, Germany, to plan for the annual conference of the Social Science Education Consortium to be held in June 2016.  Murry, a long-time Fulbright Scholar, made contact with his colleague and Director of the German Fulbright Commission, Reiner Rohr.  Based on this collaboration, the 2016 annual SSEC conference plan emerged.  The conference theme became “Mending Walls: Historical, Socio-Political, Economic, and Geographic Perspectives.”  This Berlin metaphor highlighted Berlin’s beauty, history, and cultural perspectives.   

Murry and Elizabeth Nelson
Elizabeth and Murry Nelson

Meanwhile, back home, SSEC members were working on different aspects of the conference plan.  Michael Berson, SSEC Board member, and Jim Davis, SSEC Executive Director, were recruiting Young Scholars to attend the conference through the College and University Faculty Association (CUFA) of the National Council for the Social Studies.  Richard Diem, SSEC President, and Michael Berson issued the call for conference papers and arranged for their publication through Information Age Publishing, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Modest financial awards were given to seven young scholars, who were required to present conference papers which, upon acceptance, will be published by Information Age Publishing in early 2017.  In addition, senior scholars (not necessarily “old”) were also invited to present papers. It should be noted that the young scholars awards have been named the Nicholas and Suzanne Helburn Young Scholar Awards. Nick passed away in 2011; Suzie is still an active person and scholar. Here are a few topics of the papers given at the conference that will appear in the Information Age publication:  Global Education and Teacher Navigation of Failed Citizenship; Mending Walls: A Place-Based, Exploration of the Holocaust in Berlin; Exploring the Persisting Walls Between Ability and Disability in Schools and Society; and Disrupting Spaces for Education, Policymaking, and Activism. 

Sarah Diem and Anajale Welton
Young Scholars Sarah Diem and Anajalé Welton present their paper

Charles White and Jane Lo
Senior Scholar Charles White and Young Scholar Jane Lo present their papers.  In the background are Hannah Hodes, student; Carole Hahn, a senior scholar; Deborah White, Charles’ spouse; Jim Davis; and Sharryl Davis, a senior scholar.

Murry and Elizabeth Nelson planned superb site visits for social studies/social science educators.  In Dresden, we were treated to The Green Vault (Grunes Gewolbe) Old Masters Picture Gallery led by Museum Curator, Dr. Ulricke Weinhold.  Professor Jurgen Danyel, who curated the recent opening of the I.M. Pei-designed building of the German Historic Museum, presented to the group, as did Reiner Rohr on the status of German higher education.  The group also spent considerable time at the Jewish Museum, a stark and troubling reminder of the Holocaust and of Germany’s past.  This visit was followed by Carole Hahn and her two German colleagues, Sibylle Reinhardt (Halle University) and Tilman Grammes (University of Hamburg), discussing German civic education.  Our visit to the Pergamon Museum, hosted by Professor Markus Hilgert was a true highlight, especially the visit to the behind-the-scenes workrooms where painstaking restoration occurs.  Perhaps one of the most important and troubling conference visits was to the Sachenhausen concentration camp near Berlin.  The camp’s displays created powerful and very troubling images in the minds of the conference attendees on the deplorable and miserable conditions of so-called Nazi “political” prisoners. 

Markus HilgertMarkus Hilgert of the Pergamon Museum describes behind-the-scenes work.  He emphasized the tedious work it takes to restore artifacts that are hundreds of years old. Watching Dr. Hilgert are Richard Diem, Jang An, Christy Hammer, Russ Hodes, and Hannah Hodes.

Berlin WallThis image shows part of the former Berlin Wall today.  About a city block of the wall is left as a reminder.  Toward one end of the wall is the Berlin Wall museum.  SSEC participants visited the Museum and wall on their own time. 

A highlight following the visit to the Pergamon Museum was lunch, served family style at the restaurant Via Nova.  At the lunch, we had the opportunity to thank Reiner Rohr for his outstanding and selfless work on the conference.  Reiner served as an intermediary with our hotel, The Pestana, and took care of most of our bills, saving us money and Euro-dollar exchange difficulties.  His staff accompanied us throughout our bus and subway travel in Berlin.  The image below shows Murry Nelson presenting the proclamation to Reiner thanking him for his work and making him a lifetime member of the Social Science Education Consortium. 

Reiner Rohr

The conference concluded with the SSEC Corporation Meeting.  Indeed, conferees agreed the conference was a powerful experience.  At the meeting the leadership of the organization presented a financial report, encouraged attendees to recruit other young scholars, and invited volunteers to become members of the six-member Board of Directors. 

SSEC Board Members
L to R:  Michael Berson, Board member and treasurer, President Richard Diem, and Executive Director Jim Davis.  The other Board member is Past President Murry Nelson. 

The final conference action was presenting the Irving Morrissett Award for Excellence in Social Science Education.  In effect, this is a lifetime achievement to a member who has made a significant contribution to our field and to the organization.  Both recipients were surprised they were selected.

Jim Davis & Sherry Field Jim Davis presents to Sharryl Davis
Jim Davis presents to Sherry Field
Jim Davis presents to Sharryl Davis

The 2016 SSEC annual conference was one of the best attended in many years.  We had a total of 37 participants, with seven young scholar awardees and six first-time attendees.  We welcome, need, and encourage new members.  It will be through the addition of new members and their commitment to the social sciences in pre-college education that our mission will continue to be fulfilled.  Below is a photo of most of the conference attendees. 

Back Row, L to R:  Mary Dell Smith, Crista Banks, Daniel Osborn, Shane Pisano, Charles White, Jim Davis, Val Dusek, Jing (An) Williams, Bruce Williams
Middle Row, L to R:  Carole Hahn, Hannah Hodes, Jane Lo, Sherry Field, Russ Hodes, Lyn Oshima, Jean Craven, Christy Hammer, Bea Saywell, Deborah White, Sharryl Davis, Elizabeth Nelson, Sarah Diem Anjalé Welton
Front Row, L to R:  Fred Risinger, Ilene Berson, Michael Berson, Murry Nelson, Greg Samuels, Susan Gately, Richard Diem

Note:  Our thanks to Michael Berson, Sharryl Davis, and Charles White for use of their photos.     

Download 2016 SSEC Berlin Program Brochure

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