The fifth Conference of ECHA was held at the beautiful building of Palais Ferstel in Vienna, Austria, from 19 to 22 October 1996.
The main theme of the conference was ‘Creativity and Culture: Talent Development in the Arts and Sciences.’ Organizers were the Österreichischer Kultur-Service (ÖKS, Austrian Cultural Service) and of course the ECHA.
The conference was held under the auspices of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education and Cultural Affairs and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science, Transport, and the Arts.
The 4th conference took place in Nijmegen from 8-11 October 1994, its title was ‘Nurturing Talent: Individual Needs and Social Ability.’
The organizing committee was formed by Franz J. Mönks, Willy Peters, Hélène van Haren and Michael Katzko and the Program Consultancy was in the capable hands of Pieter Span.
ECHA's Third European Conference took place in Munich, Germany from October 11-14, 1992.
"The conference's scientific programme," President Joan Freeman wrote in her welcoming statement, "is an outstanding reflection of ECHA's mission to promote high ability by using valid and reliable evidence as the basis of educational decisions."
The conference was organized by Prof. Dr. Kurt Heller and Prof. Dr. Ernst Hany, who had been been very active preparing the conference. There were strong objections to the proposed title – High Ability in an Integrating Europe because of its political implications and its similarity to the name ECHA. The title then was decided to be “Competence and Responsibility”.
“High Ability in a Changing Europe”. What a striking name for the second ECHA conference in 1990. Europe was certainly changing, due to the revolutions in Eastern Europe and the Iron Curtain coming down.
“One of ECHA’s first steps to networking information was to reach out to colleagues on the other side of the ‘Iron Curtain’ in Eastern Europe. Academics and teachers there had been isolated for years by many forces, not least because Western scientific books on education and psychology were not for sale for them. The West and the East needed each others’ expertises. Positive reactions came quickly from all over - East Berlin, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. ECHA added two colleagues from the east to the board - Levcho Zdravchev from Bulgaria and Éva Gefferth from Hungary.”
(Pieter Span, 2008)
“I am truly proud to have the honour of welcoming you all to this first European Conference of ECHA.”
Those were the first words of Opening Address of the President of ECHA at that time, Dr Joan Freeman. She looked back on the start of ECHA and looked forward to what they hoped would happen in the future:
“It was only about 18 months ago that a few people met in Utrecht to discuss how we might form a European association for the highly able. (…) This conference in Zurich is intended both to launch ECHA as a clearly effective organisation, to firm-up network where it has already spread, as well as acting as a focus for making more links. (…)
You may have heard it on the grapevine that our next major conference is to be in Budapest. This beautiful city, either side of the Danube, was the natural choice. It fits into the original ECHA plan to have a European conference, alternately in the West and the East of the continent, in the quiet years either side of the conferences of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children. (…)
Those of us here at this first conference of the European Council for High Ability are privileged to be in at the start of a movement which is already growing very fast indeed. (…)
ECHA is the only association covering all Europe, which is specifically concerned with high ability. We have a daunting amount to accomplish in the next few years in getting these outlined ideas and plans into action. I am excited by ECHA, because I believe it is a sound venture which will soon bear fruit for the highly able, and that is why we are here, to start the ball rolling.”
(Opening address From the President of ECHA, Dr. Joan Freeman 10th Nov 1988)
The General Committee of ECHA decided to celebrate the 30th birthday of ECHA by collecting the available information and memories of our past 15 International ECHA Conferences. These conferences were always the highlights of ECHA’s life, which gave again and again a great impetus for research, its applications and cooperation both in gifted education and talent support. The Committee asked Ragnild Zonneveld to mobilize the collective memory of ECHA on its conferences. Please find her Introduction to the Conference summaries enclosed.
president of ECHA
It is with great pleasure I present you this overview on thirty years of ECHA Conferences-history.
While doing research for this project, I found this article in ECHA News: “The Importance of attending a Conference”, by Ludmila V. Popova. Ludmila Popova ends her article by saying:
“Looking back on all these events and projects I can see how many new friends and enthusiastic supporters I have acquired thanks to the conferences, how much has been achieved during this relatively short period of time, what a wide network has formed and how much I have been stimulated by these contacts. (…) With great hopes I foresee my meetings with friends and colleagues with whom we have worked and are working together for the sake of a better world and our common future.”
(ECHA News Vol. 8 no. 2 September 1994)
That was the tendency in all the reports and memories I came across: every single one was about “warm”, about “inspiration” and “stimulation”, about “contact”, “working together” and “meeting people”. And actually, it was just that I experienced myself, while working on this project!
To make this overview I have worked my way through the ECHA archives: all the minutes of the General Committee, High Ability Studies and ECHA News issues. I searched the whole of the internet by filling in several combinations in Google (did you know ECHA is a European Agency for Chemistry Safety as well?). I stalked quite a few people by emailing them (a lot) for information; sorry about that! I met with a few people, among whom the founding ECHA President, Prof. Joan Freeman and the three times president of ECHA, Prof. Franz J. Mönks. I became best friends (including arguments) with Google Translate. Same with my laptop. And thus all the bits and pieces came together.
I would like to take the opportunity to say a special thank you to a few contributors who made my work a lot easier:
I feel privileged to have had contact with so many people I read about while working on this project; ECHA history really came to life!
Joan Freeman stated in her Opening Address at the very first conference in Zürich 1988:
“ECHA is the only association covering all Europe, which is specifically concerned with high ability. We have a daunting amount to accomplish in the next few years in getting these outlined ideas and plans into action. I am excited by ECHA, because I believe it is a sound venture which will soon bear fruit for the highly able, and that is why we are here, to start the ball rolling.”
During this project I found the ball never stopped rolling, and ECHA has been fruitful and accomplished a whole lot in the past thirty years. So let’s keep the ball rolling: I’m looking forward to meeting you in Dublin next year, so we can make some new contacts, memories and history!
The Youth Platform of the European Talent Support Network has elected its first Council for the years of 2016 to 2018. Members of the Council are: Marco Agozzino (Italy), Armin Fabian (Romania), Liliana Gerse (Austria), Lukas Kyzlik (Czech Republic) and Elle Loughran (Ireland). ECHA wishes all of them a very successful organization of the cooperation of gifted and talented young people in Europe.
On the 28th of October 2016 the representatives of the European and Associated European Talent Centres met for the second time. The meeting was held in Budapest organised by the European Talent Centre – Budapest. Out of the 19 Talent Centres 16 were represented at the meeting where the Hungarian Minister of State for Family, Youth and International Affairs, Katalin Novák was also present during the celebration of the newly qualified 5 centres. The Academy for Talented Youth from Denmark, the South German Talent Centre from Germany, the Centre for Talented Youth Greece at Anatolia College from Greece and the Tribal Mensa Centre from India got their certificates for being qualified as a European Talent Centre from from Lianne Hoogeveen, the Chair of the Qualification Committee, from Peter Csermely, the President of ECHA and from Katalin Novák, the Minister of State. Unfortunately, the new Peruvian Associated Talent Centre, the Future Minds, was not able to participate at the ceremony.
Thus the number of European Talent Centres increased to 19 (including the two Associated European Talent Centres) during the past two years. The Network has now close to 300 participating organizations from 39 countries all over the world. Due to this rapid expansion it became necessary to elect a Network Council in order to represent and coordinate the affairs of the Network the most effective way. The Network Council election process took place between 15 September and 24 October and had two phases: the nomination phase and the voting process. During the meeting Lianne Hoogeveen, the Caretaker of the election summarized the results of the voting process: 62% of total possible votes from 27 countries were received; 79% of Talent Centres voted. All the five Network Council nominees were elected with 76% of votes or more.
After the Celebration part of the meeting the Talent Centre representatives discussed and decided on several issues in connection with the future development of the European Talent Support Network. After the meeting of the representatives the newly elected Network Council also held its first meetings on the 28th and on the 29th of October with the participation of Armin Fabian, as the representative of its Youth Platform. We all wish the Network a very successful cooperation! Details and calls of joint projects will be published on this web-site in the coming weeks and months. The Network is open for new participants, the registration of Talent Points will be re-opened in February and the 3rd round of Talent Centre applications will be opened in March.
The European Talent Support Network has now close to 300 cooperating organizations from 39 countries total representing Europe and many other continents. After the nomination of the members of the Network Council by the representatives of 19 European Talent Centres, the Talent Centres and Talent Points voted for the Council. Lianne Hoogeveen was asked to be the Caretaker of the vote. 62% of all possible votes were received (including 79% of Talent Centre votes). Antonios Apostolou, Csilla Fuszek (coordinator), Mojca Jurisevic, Colm O'Reilly and Albert Ziegler were elected as members of the first Network Council by 76% of the votes or more. Their mandate is until 31 December 2018. Armin Fabian, the representative of the Youth Platform of the European Talent Support Network is an invited member of the Council meetings. They will help the cooperation of the European Talent Support Network including the initiation of several joint actions. See the CV-s of Council members here.