Introduction of Pacific Rim Special Education Research Consortium (PR-SERC)
The United Nations and 46 signatory states in the Asian and Pacific region have declared the decade, 2003-2012, as the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons. In response to the call for this grand mission, we are enthusiastic about gleaning brilliant minds in relevant areas of research of high interest to attempt to conduct large-scale collaborative research, in order to understand policies, research and practices with regard to inclusive education, early identification and intervention, and family support for families of children with disabilities around the Pacific Rim, particularly in the Asian Pacific, a region that covers over 400 million people with disabilities.
Pacific Rim Special Education Research Consortium (PR-SERC) was formally established in 2010 through the inaugural consortium conference held in Beijing. The establishment of PR-SERC is based upon collaborative partnerships between the special education faculty in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, University of California at Santa Barbara and scholars from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the People¡¯s Republic of China initially and then extended to those in Australia, Canada, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. This consortium seeks the goal of expanding research collaboration and cooperation to researchers across the Pacific Rim, with the particular attention to the value of enhancing international exchange of empirically derived knowledge that can support education of children and youth with disabilities. Major foci of the collaborative research have been placed on the differentiated implementations of those various support systems for people with disabilities shaped by the unique local cultural, social, and political environments.
A living example of the research project cooperated by PR- SERC researchers from different Pacific Rim areas is a survey study regarding dynamics of family involvement in the education of children with disabilities in Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Taiwan. A group of researchers from UCSB, East China Normal University and Beijing Union University, and the Hong Kong Institute of Education have undertaken a comparative cross-national interview and survey study in this research project. The fruit of this project is likely to be used for scholars in China and the United States to encourage research in an area of importance to the approximately 30 million Chinese children with disabilities and their families in China and to inform parent organizations in the US and China about their similarities and differences for purposes of cross-national family support.
The inaugural PR-SERC conference organized by the consortium¡ªThe International Conference of Special Education Research Cooperation in the Pacific Rim Area took place in Beijing, China, from May 27 to May 29, 2010 (see report at http://www.china.org.cn/china/2010-05/29/content_20144905.htm). The conference had attracted researchers from America, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, as well as 300 staff from special needs schools, government agencies and NGOs in Beijing.
Division of International Special Education and Services (DISES) of Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) has been in great support to the establishment and collaborative work of the consortium. CEC is the largest international professional organization in the world that is devoted to special education. DISES is the co-sponsor of the second PR-SERC consortium conference which will be held in Santa Barbara on February 8-12, 2012.