Encouraging the Gifted in the context of Migration and Intercultural Exchange
2 – 5 March, 2016
Vienna, Austria

Given the long tradition of education and migration in many European countries, the topics of multiculturalism and intercultural exchange are key priorities on the educational agenda, as well as being natural prerequisites for peaceful co-existence in the 21st century. Giftedness and high potential in a multicultural society is also a topic most relevant and of high interest all over Europe.

The National Correspondents are a vital part of ECHA, they are the contacts and communicators between ECHA and their country. To be a correspondent they need to be a regular participant at the ECHA Conferences, hold an activity in their country every year, work to increase the ECHA membership in their country and send a regular report to the ECHA News.

The coordinator will contact all the national correspondents once a year to check that they are happy to continue in their role and to ask for a brief report on the work of their country. The accounts from various countries will help the coordinator to write a summary report for each edition of Echa News.

At each of the ECHA conferences there will be a meeting for all the national correspondents that the co-ordinator will organise. The time and the date will be notified to the correspondents before the conference.

For more information about the National Correspondent of your country please contact our National Correspondent Coordinator.

Please note that to access the addresses and email-s of National Correspondents you need to login as an ECHA member. If you forgot the username/password please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.






Czech & Slovak Republics


England & Wales








Latin America


The Netherlands












The first 25 years of ECHA traditions: messages from former ECHA presidents, secretaries and editor-in-chiefs of the European Journal of High Ability/High Ability Studies (all memories reflect the personal opinion of the respective author).

Kirsi Tirri (president, 2008-2012)

Kirsi-TirriDuring my Presidency ECHA got a new bank account that a professional organization needs and this now allows us to pay the membership by credit card. I also left my term with money in the bank account and you can now discuss what to do with the money to promote giftedness and talents.

I had the pleasure to serve as guest editor of two special issues of High Ability Studies with the themes “Character Education and Giftedness” and “Motivation and Giftedness”. HAS was present in the “Journal Talks”- session of the American Educational Research Association Conference each year. Serving in 10 other Editorial Boards of journals in gifted education and education helped me to promote high quality research related to giftedness. Three European countries invited me every year to evaluate their national research proposals and I have also taken part in the evaluation of recent EU programmes. At all these occasions I have been able to use my knowledge of gifted education and try to promote research related to high abilities. I have given seven Keynote or Invited talks in Ireland, Greece, Austria, Saudi-Arabia, Singapore, Malta and Finland. At all these occasions I have visited the local actors in gifted education and promoted activities of ECHA among them. Video of Kirsi Tirri on ECHA

Franz Mönks (president, 1992-2000; 2004-2008)

Franz Mönks

  1. Constitution to make ECHA a legal organization, registered in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Registration in the Chamber of Commerce in Nijmegen/Arnhem (ECHA is a charity association under the number 40146782).
  2. New layout design of ECHA News by Irene Ypenburg: ECHA logo has one step instead of two
  3. ECHA gets the NGO-status (Non-Governmental Organization) with the Council of Europe.
  4. European Journal for High Ability (1990 – 1995, volume 1 – 6) was replaced by High Ability Studies. The editor-in-chief, Arthur Cropley, of EJHS stayed on as Editor in 1996 editing 7(1) and 7(2). In 1997 Joan Freeman took over from 8(1) until 9(2) in 1998. From 1999, 10(1) until 13(2) in 2003 Roland Persson took over. High Ability Studies is completely a product, including jacket and ECHA logo with one step, of F.M.
  5. Establishment of the ECHA-Diploma. In the closing session of the 4th ECHA Conference on October 10, 1994 “the granting of the European Advanced Diploma in Educating the Gifted to the first recipients by Prof. Dr. Jan Giesbers, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. The Laudations will be given by Dr. Joan Freeman”. (Quotation from the Conference Program, page 18).
  6. Initiation and preparation of the COST Strategic Workshop Meeting the Needs of Gifted Children and Adolescents – Towards a European Roadmap in November 2007.

Javier Tourón (president, 2000-2004)

Javier Tourón
Presidential acceptance speech setting ECHA’s goals in 2000:

  1. The first one will be the development of a set of regulations for the ECHA diploma that will help to foster even further development that will benefit the community of teachers and practitioners as well as the ECHA itself. These regulations will be delineated by the General committee and submitted to all the ECHA members for their consideration and suggestions. After that the new rules will be voted in the General Assembly of members and will enter into force.
  2. My second concern will be increasing the presence of the ECHA in Europe and the world. At least it’s virtual presence. This means finishing the project of the construction of the ECHA Homepage. We already have a draft. I will request your co-operation to contribute to it with the valuable information you have in your own countries.
  3. The third goal is related to the increase of our communication. To my understanding it cannot be reduced to the biannual conferences and little more. It will be possible to organize a kind of forum or discussion list through the Internet. And we have to do it.
  4. The last goal but not the least is to find ways to increase our Council in a significant way. In a continent of more than 300 million people the figures of the ECHA membership seems ridiculously low and we have to do something about this.

But none of the above stated goals can be reached without your help. It is my wish that these goals are not my goals but our goals. I will finish using a sailing metaphor. Let’s imagine that the ECHA is a tall ship. You make me the helmsman for this period, but as a passionate sailor of many years I know very well that this ship will be unable to sail upwind without an enthusiastic and well trained crew. You are that crew and I rely totally on you. But we do not set sail from the yard; this is not a new tall ship. This is a veteran vessel that has coped very well in the past with calm waters and stormy ones too, thanks to the seamanship of other helmsmen. I will try to learn from the past and read the charts very carefully to avoid shallow waters.

Joan Freeman (founding president, 1987-1992)

ECHA: The first years

Joan-FreemanThe primary aim of ECHA is to act as a European network for understanding high ability throughout the lifespan. From its establishment on 19th May 1987, during the years of my Founding Presidency, it soared from an idea to become a dynamic multinational association. The initiating team (including Pieter Span, Harald Wagner and Ulrike Stedtnitz) reached out particularly to professionals behind the (then) ‘iron curtain’. High standards were crucial, which is probably why the demand for international membership obliged us to remove European geographical boundaries. We published a quarterly newsletter and (with great difficulty) a scientific peer-reviewed journal. Not only did we present biennial conferences, but several times a year across Europe we set up ECHA symposia at other conferences, as well as independent ECHA workshops, e.g. maths, music, adolescence, thinking.

A specialist academic group designed and put into action the ECHA international Advanced Diploma for near and distant learning, while the Schools Division was concerned with the practice of education for the most able. A bank of about 25 ECHA Correspondents cared for concerns in their own countries. Our exciting plans for international research on art talent and an ECHA publications company were in progress when I handed over. After nearly quarter of a century, it is thrilling to see the magnetism ECHA still holds all over the world for professionals in our field.
Committee 1989
ECHA Committee 1989 - from left to right: Klaus Urban (Germany), Candido Genovard (Spain) Pieter Span (NL), Joan Freeman (UK), Harald Wagner (Germany), Eva Gefferth (Hungary) and  Andrzej Sekowski (Poland)

Pieter Span (founding secretary of ECHA, 1987-1990)

Birth and Early Development of ECHA

Pieter SpanIn 1983 Franz Mönks introduced me to 'the world of the gifted', which was the start of things to come. In august 1986 I participated in the first Portuguese conference on gifted education in Porto (Fig 1.). During the conference the president of the Portuguese association, Luiz Nazareth and I agreed on a proposal to found a European association. The objectives of this association should be the study and development of high ability, including the international exchange of information related to that subject. This should also include countries in east Europe, behind the iron curtain. I sent this proposal to European participants of recent conferences on giftedness and to local associations in European countries. Almost all the responses were positive. Only some respondents objected:  they thought that Europe was not yet ready for such an association and at least there should be a link with the World Council. (The reader should remember that in those days there was a strong resistance against special attention for the gifted.)

Fig 1. From left to right: Pieter Span, Dorothy Sisk and Harry Passow (committee of the World Council) at the 1986 Porto meeting

To speed up the procedure I invited Luiz Nazareth (P), Joan Freeman (GB), Ulrike Stednitz (CH), Harald Wagner (BRD) and Jean Brunault (FR) to meet me in Utrecht, May 29 and 30 1987. May 29 the association was founded and called European Council for High Ability: ECHA.  Joan Freeman was elected as president. Goals were:

  • Close cooperation with the World Council and with national associations (partly realized).
  • The publication of scientific research (realized).
  • The publication of a Newsletter: ECHA News.  It was me, who choose the colour green (for hope) and the 'flip-over-stairs' (the number of 'flips' correlates with intelligence level) (realized).
  • The organization of conferences (realized).
  • The founding of divisions e.g. research and education (not realized).

The 30th a symposium was organized. We closed the meeting at Utrecht in a high mode: ECHA existed!

The first conference was held in 1988 in Zürich (CH; Fig. 2.), chaired by Ulrike Stedtnitz (see ECHA News, special issue 2012) and having an opening night at 18.00 p.m.  The grand ballroom of the hotel Zurich was overcrowded. Participants were waiting. No Joan. I asked Ulrike: go and find out. After five minutes Ulrike returned: Joan had the time wrong. But then Joan appeared: strided to the front and gave a magnificent speech, by which ECHA was really founded. Main characteristic of the conference since that moment was: everyone felt at home.

Fig 2. Problem solving during the 1988 Zürich conference (from left to right: Pieter Span, Paul Andrews, Ulrike Stedtnitz and Joan Freeman)

In the meantime Brunault and Nazareth had left the committee; two new members were Eva Geffert (HON) and Levcho Zdravchev (BUL). These were very lucky choices: Eva would become the chairperson of the next conference in Budapest (1990), which was a conference of 'high level 'and a great success. Levcho organized the first issue of the European Journal for High Ability. Arthur Cropley was the editor.

Fig 3. Planning the European Journal for High Ability (from left to right: with Levcho Zdravchev, Pieter Span, Joan Freeman, Harald Wagner and Arthur Cropley)

I resigned in Budapest as secretary. A new challenge was waiting. Harold took over my position.  Joan thanked me for everything I did for ECHA, even referred to Winston Churchill (i.c. sweat and tears), which I thought was a bit overdone. The farewell evening at Budapest however was overshadowed by alarming information about social unrest in the country.

The next conference was in Munich, 1992. At the end of the conference Joan resigned as president. I thanked her for everything she did as president and as a friend.  Franz Mönks took over her job. During the diner Ernst Hany gave me a nice speech and handed me a flashlight, symbolic for somebody who showed the way to go. For me the first five ECHA years were exiting years. We reached most of the goals as we had planned. But, very importantly, we did it also in perfect harmony. And with reference to Harald: 'Echa-cha'.

Johanna Raffan (secretary 2004-2012)

Johanna RaffanI joined ECHA in 1991 and was privileged to be elected to the General Committee in 1994 when the conference was in Nijmegen - my fondest memory of that conference was racing Francoys Gagne to the Dessert Table at the Conference Dinner  - he won!  In 1998 I joined the Executive.  I was then re-elected in 2004 and took on the role of Secretary until September 2012.  I had many happy times during my close involvement with ECHA - the music at the Vienna Conference, the organisation of the Oxford Conference, the heat in Debrecen,  moving the venue of the 2002 Conference to Rhodes.  Vineyards in the dark in Pamplona, The stunning venue of the conference dinner in Lahti and the elegance of Prague.  More hot weather in Paris and the great numbers in Munster.

During my time on the General Committee we have seen High Ability Studies included in Social Sciences Citation Index, the only journal in the field of Gifted Education to be included.  A Council of Europe Conference, in Nijmegen, to share good practice.  A EU Conference, in Brussels, to share policy and practice.  The growth of the ECHA Diploma both in the types of Diplomas, the number of countries and the very large number of students.  The ongoing development of the ECHA News from a broad sheet to on-line.  Many amazing delegates at our conference all with the same goal "to improve provision for Gifted Pupils".

When I was  first elected to the General Committee I was asked what my hopes were -  I said that if ECHA was really successful then we should work ourselves out of existence,  if all the countries in Europe were prepared to undertake research and to improve the provision for Gifted Pupils we would not need to exist.  I fear we are still a very long way from that goal, but the message is spreading and some excellent work is being done in many countries.  I also said that I would like to improve my knowledge of the various wines made around Europe, I have been more successful in this desire.  I thank all those who have invited me to their countries over the last twenty years and I will watch with great interest how you go from strength to strength.

Thank you all for allowing me to serve you and the field of Gifted Education!

Harald Wagner (secretary and treasurer 1990 – 2004)

Harald WagnerDuring 14 years I had the privilege to serve as ECHA Secretary and Treasurer, succeeding Pieter Span in this office. My assistant Menna Jones took meticulously care of the membership files and correspondence, what I gratefully acknowledge. The implementation of credit card payment of membership fees was a significant improvement for easy money transfer from a multitude of countries.

Well preserved in my memories are the ECHA conferences in Zurich (1988), Budapest (1990), Munich (1992), Nijmegen (1994), Vienna (1996), Oxford (1998), Debrecen (2000), Rhodes (2002),and Pamplona (2004). In many cases I was able to help get things started with upfront money either from ECHA funds or support from Bildung&Begabung / Stifterverbandfür die Deutsche Wissenschaft.

I was more than happy to facilitate the production of the ECHA Journal "European Journal for High Ability" / "High Ability Studies" with substantial financial support by Bildung und Begabung. In 1996 the journal was transferred under the new name to the excellently reputed Carfax / Taylor & Francis Publishing Company and has developed into one of the leading journals in the field.

Noteworthy are as well two publications which I had the honour to co-edit: "Actualizing talent", edited by Joan Freeman, Pieter Span and Harald Wagner (London: Cassell 1995), and "Development of human potential: Investment into our future. Proceedings of the 8th Conference of the European Council for High Ability, Rhodes, October 9-13, 2002" edited by Franz J. Mönks and Harald Wagner (Bad Honnef, Germany: Bock 2003). ECHACHA!

Arthur J. Cropley (editor-in-chief of European Journal for High Ability/High Ability Studies, 1989-1997)

Arthur J. CropleyI was the founding editor of the European Journal for High Ability, which subsequently became High Ability Studies, serving from 1989 to 1997. During this term of office I placed particular emphasis on stabilizing the existence of the newborn journal (regular appearance on time), on publishing papers going beyond a conceptualization of high ability as high academic ability to include sporting ability, musical ability, artistic ability and the like, and on inclusion of contributions from the (at that time) newly emerging countries of the former Soviet Union. During this period I was very grateful for the support of the ECHA Board and the scholars who contributed their work to the journal, thus ensuring its survival.

Joan Freeman (editor-in-chief of High Ability Studies, 1996-1999)

Joan FreemanThe first ECHA scientific publication, the European Journal of High Ability, was published in Sofia in 1990.  It was extremely difficult manoeuvring currency through Bonn, Utrecht Hamburg, Vienna and Sofia, and then getting the copies out to the West. The priority was a high academic standard, including work from behind the Iron Curtain. When I became Editor in Chief (1996-1999), I renamed it High Ability Studies because our readership was well beyond Europe.  I chose its new publisher, Carfax (now Taylor and Francis) in Oxford, UK, and redesigned the cover, still in print.  There were literary-style book reviews in every twice-yearly issue.

The second ECHA publication, Actualising Talent (1995, London:Cassell), was a collection of new papers taking a life-span approach.  Editing was shared by Joan Freeman, Pieter Span and Harald Wagner.  We each received a specially labelled bottle of wine when it won the Book Award for the National Association for Special Educational Needs in 1996.

Roland S. Persson (editor-in-chief of High Ability Studies, 1999-2003)

I succeeded Founding President Joan Freeman as Editor-in-Chief of the ECHA scholarly journal High Ability Studies in 1999 and stayed on, according to contract, until 2003. I was encouraged by the publisher (Carfax, at Oxford, at the time, which was later incorporated into Taylor & Francis Publishers) to make my own personal impact on the journal. I shared much of Joan's philosophy, namely to go looking for needed knowledge not apparently evident to main stream research, as pursued by scientists not necessarily known to everyone in the field of giftedness and talent. I still feel that this is something that should be pursued with an even greater fervour. Nothing good will ever come out of stagnant dogma and academic inbreeding. I did, however, decide to make an effort to include expertise research into the journal, a growing field of science which at the time did not really have a specific journal of its own. This direction was picked up and continued also by my successors: Albert Ziegler as well as Heidrun Stöger.

One major task during my tenure was to have the journal indexed by as many important international indices as possible but most importantly by the Social Sciences Citation Index. The publisher and I succeeded. High Ability Studies is now part of the Web of Science and has a bibliometric "Impact Factor" which currently sets it apart from other journals in the field. In hindsight, however, I am not convinced this inclusion is as successful as hoped. While it certainly awards HAS with a certain glamour, it also impedes the development of the journal. The editor is no longer as free to act as he/she previously was. Suddenly "science" has become a static rather than dynamic concept in order to live up to quality standards set out by the SSCI and other similar institutions. Over time this also means that it is less likely that new knowledge and different paradigms of science will have a forum in High Ability Studies. Time will tell.

I resigned as Editor-in-chief after my four-year tenure. It was a full time job. During this time I quite literally had more than two full time jobs: the duties of my professorship and in addition to this also the very demanding editorship. There was no time left for own research and writing. I was always occupied by other colleagues' manuscripts. I found the lack of time for my own work very frustrating. I was offered a new tenure as Editor but declined for this reason only. I much enjoyed the editorship. It taught me priceless lessons in academic professionalism for which I am very grateful.

Albert Ziegler (editor-in-chief of High Ability Studies, 2002-2007)

Albert ZieglerAs the new Editor-in-Chief of the High Ability Studies in 2002, I had been often asked whether I intended to develop new emphases. Actually there is a fine line between preserving the tried and true and cautious adaptions of new developments. Therefore, I thought that the proven course chosen by my predecessor was generally to be continued. Indeed, Roland Persson had done a tremendous job. Most noteworthy is that he had registered the journal with all the major literature databases. Thus, I could focus on changes with regard to contents.

My overarching aim was to raise the scientific standards of the High Ability Studies, while still seeking to bring out works practitioners should find interesting. For example, I tried to establish an affiliation between giftedness research and expertise research, which I considered to be complimentary efforts in the research in the genesis of eminence.

One important innovation that enlivened the international discussion was the opportunity to publish target articles along with peer commentaries. The first target articles were written by such eminent scholars like Robert Sternberg, Anders Ericsson and Françoys Gagné. Their contributions as well as excellent manuscripts by many more colleagues made it possible that during my Editorship the High Ability Studies became the journal with the highest citation impact in the field of excellence research and gifted education.

Heidrun Stoeger (editor-in-chief of High Ability Studies, 2007-)

Heidrun-StoegerIt was an honor for me, after having served five years as editorial assistant, to take over the position of editor-in-chief of High Ability Studies in 2007. The large number of submissions that High Ability Studies regularly receives and the journal’s extensive pool of reviewers testify to the exceptional work of my predecessor.

During my tenure as editor-in-chief I have worked to continue to encourage lively and constructive discussion between giftedness researchers and expertise researchers. The numerous submissions we receive, including contributions from expertise researchers working in areas ranging from sports to chess, indicate that these efforts have been successful. The great amount of interest being paid to this area of inquiry makes clear that giftedness research has a lot to gain from new, related areas of research and that it already has profited a great deal. Another clear indication for this is the large number of peer commentaries which the journal’s recent target article by Ziegler and Phillipson elicited. Indeed their article, which described and justified a new approach to giftedness research and education, attracted commentaries from people working in a variety of fields.

We look forward to receiving many further interesting manuscripts, and our new online-submission system should help to make the submission process faster and more efficient.

Péter Csermely

What are the strengths of ECHA? First of all: its continuously enriched traditions of more than 25 years. Secondly, ECHA’s superb quality in all areas related to research and practice associated with talented people. This high quality is exemplified by High Ability Studies, which is the most prestigious journal of the field. Last but not least ECHA’s strength comes from the large variety of approaches of its members reflecting the cultural richness of Europe.

What are the weaknesses of ECHA and European talent support in 2012? First of all, there is a gap between research and practice. In many places local talent support communities are isolated from the rest of Europe and often re-invent the wheel. Sometimes these local communities invent a square instead of a wheel – which is even worse. We need a much more intensive dissemination of the scientific results and exchange of the best talent support practices in Europe. The second weakness of ECHA and European talent support is the gap between research, practice and politics. Talented people are the future of Europe. Still, the Horizon 2020 takes talent as a granted treasure of the ‘old continent’, and contains no direct measures to discover and support the huge and hidden European pool of talented people. The third weakness of ECHA is the gap between ECHA Conferences. ECHA cannot be a ‘conference-society’ only. Our responsibility is much wider than that.

What are the major goals of ECHA for the coming years? First and foremost ECHA has to stand in the forefront of building a European Talent Support Network. This should be a network of all people involved in talent support: educators, researchers, psychologists, parents, politicians and the talented young people themselves. Talent Support Centres of many European countries may serve as regional hubs of this network building a contact structure going beyond their own country. Secondly, and consequently: ECHA needs to grow its membership and needs to maintain a continuous contact with its members. Third, ECHA needs to build up an intensive contact structure with other European actors involved in talent support: the European Parliament, the European Commission, other related Europe-wide NGO-organizations and multi-national firms willing to cooperate with us and support ECHA.

Talented people in all ages are the life-insurance of Europe in times of economic and social crisis. Europe needs novel solutions, which needs creativity and talented people. Each European citizen might potentially hide a special type of talent. We need to discover this huge reserve and help its development into a joint success of Europe.

The team of Prof. Dr. Christian Fischer was honoured with the conference award by the city of muenster for hosting the 13th International ECHA Conference. It was held in combination with the 4th Muensterscher Bildungskongress in September 2012 and was managed by Dr. Christiane Fischer-Ontrup and Anne Vohrmann.

The organizers of the recent "Towards a European Talent Support Network" conference decided to give the first European Talent Networking Award to all 4 former presidents of ECHA. The award recognizes the pioneering role of ECHA in forming European-level cooperation in the field of studying and helping young people with high ability. On the picture awardees are putting together the 4 pieces of the first European Talent Networking Award: Joan Freeman, Franz Mönks (represented by Peter Csermely in his absence), Javier Tourón and Kirsi Tirri (represented by Csilla Fuszek in her absence) symbolizing the strength of cooperation.


Lianne HoogeveenLianne Hoogeveen
Programme Director
Radboud Centre Social Sciences
Toernooiveld 5 
6525 ED Nijmegen
The Netherlands


Albert ZieglerAlbert Ziegler
Friedrich Alexander Universitat, Nürnberg-Erlangen
Lehrstuhl Pädagogische Psychologie
Dutzendteichstraße 24, D-90478 Nürnberg, Germany


Secretary and Treasurer of ECHA

colmColm O'Reilly
Centre for Talented Youth
Dublin City University
Dublin 9
Phone: +353 (1) 700 5000/extn: 5633
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

General Committee Member

ulrike kempterUlrike Kempter
Vereins Stiftung Talente OÖ
ÖZBF Salzburg
Victor Müller OppligerVictor Müller-Oppliger
Pädagogische Hochschule der Nordwestschweiz
Swiss Centre for Gifted Education
Benzburweg 30
Liestal, Switzerland
+41 61 925 77 47
Mariska PoelmanMariska Poelman
Radboud University
Postbus 9104
The Netherlands
Anna Maria Roncoroni Anna Maria Roncoroni
Via Maragliano 6/1 sc. sn.
I-16121 Genova
Margaret Sutherland Margaret Sutherland
University of Glasgow
School of Education
St. Andrew's Building,
11 Eldon Street,
Glasgow G3 6NH

Invited (nonvoting) members of the General Committee

Editor-in-Chief of High Ability Studies

Alejandro VeasAlejandro Veas
Faculty of Education
University of Alicante
03690, San Vicente del Raspeig
Alicante, Spain

Chairman of the ECHA Education Board

Christian Fischer Christian Fischer
International Centre for the Study of Giftedness ICBF
Universität Münster
Georgskommende 33,
48143 Münster, Germany

Chair of the next International ECHA Conference

Helena Serra Helena Serra
Escola Superior de Educação de Paula Frassinetti
Rua Gil Vicente, 138-142,
4000-255 Porto

Chair of the 2021 Thematic ECHA Conference

Fuszek Csilla Csilla Fuszek
Director of the European Talent Centre, Budapest
Postal address: 1518 Budapest 112 PO Box 146, Hungary
Office: MATEHETSZ, Mérnök u. 39. 1119 Budapest, Hungary

Representative of the 2022 International ECHA Conference

29994701 1512474008863919 168761451 o 1Desirée Houkema
National Talent Centre of the Netherlands,

Representative of the Youth Platform of the European Talent Support Network

29994701 1512474008863919 168761451 o 1Veronika Deketová
Czech Republic

Throughout Europe there is a growing awareness of the needs of our most able individuals; in recent years increasing interest in this area of child development has generated new forms of practice in education, numerous research programmes and studies, a growth in the number of societies for parents of highly able children and, indeed, a growth in concern for highly able people of all ages.

ECHA has been generated by an overwhelming demand for coordination from most European countries, both West and East. The major goal of ECHA is to act as a communications network to promote the exchange of information among people interested in high ability – educators, researchers, psychologists, parents and the highly able themselves. As the ECHA network grows, provision for highly able people improves and these improvements are beneficial to all members of society.

The basis for this specifically European Council comes from a belief in our common cultural heritage which is distinct from that of other parts of the world. Although Europe is made up of different countries with many languages, we share the traditions and outlooks of societies in which education has been widely available for centuries. We also share the same kinds of problems, and it makes sense to work towards their solution together.

The European Council for High Ability aims to advance the study and development of potential excellence in people. This enterprise calls for easy access to communication so that new discoveries whether scientific or the fruits of experience, can be readily shared between members of ECHA and others who are concerned about high ability.
ECHA enjoys consultative status as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) with the Council of Europe.

Charity Number: 40146782

Message from the President (2012-2016), Peter Csermely

ECHA celebrated its 25th birthday on 19th May 2013. As an introduction to this former ECHA presidents and secretaries summarize the first 25 years of ECHA traditions.

The European Council of High Ability honours its former presidents, former secretaries and Editor-in-Chiefs of its scientific journal, High Ability Studies with its Honorary Membership. We are pleased to share the Curriculum Vitae of our Honorary Members below.

Former presidents of ECHA

Kirsi Tirri (president, 2008-2012)

Kirsi-TirriDr. Kirsi Tirri is a Professor of Education and Research Director at the Department of Teacher Education at the University of Helsinki, Finland. She is also a visiting scholar with the Stanford Center on Adolescence, USA. Tirri has been the President of ECHA (European Council for High Ability) for the years 2008-2012 and the President of the SIG International Studies at AERA (American Educational Research Association) for the years 2010-2013. Her research interests include moral and religious education, gifted education, teacher education and cross-cultural studies. She has published 12 monographs and numerous journal articles related to these fields. She serves in 13 Editorial Boards of educational journals. She has supervised 16 doctoral dissertations in education and theology and mentored many postdoctoral students who are now professors and researchers in education. She has led the Finnish team in many national and international research projects.

You can read more of her work from Kirsi Tirri's own webpage or you can visit a webpage of Stanford Center on Adolescence.

Franz Mönks (president, 1992-2000; 2004-2008)

Franz-MonksIn 1962 Prof. Dr. Mönks became a staff member of the Department of Developmental Psychology at the University of Nijmegen (The Netherlands), and in 1967 he became full professor of Developmental Psychology and head of the same department. In 1988 he was awarded a professorship on a newly established chair at the University of Nijmegen The Development of the Gifted Child, and he became also director of the newly founded Center for the Study of Giftedness (CSG) at the same University. He published and edited many books and numerous articles about developmental psychology and gifted education.

In 1987 Prof. Dr. Mönks became a member of the Executive Committee of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children (WCGTC), and was elected as Vice President of WCGTC in 1989. After his election as President of the European Council for High Ability (ECHA) in October 1992, he retired as Vice President of WCGTC. He was the director of the Ninth World Conference on Gifted and Talented Children which was held in 1991 in The Hague (The Netherlands) and in the same year he organized in cooperation with the Council of Europe (Strasbourg, France) an Educational Research Workshop on "Gifted Children and Adolescents - Research and Education in Europe", which was held at the University of Nijmegen (23-26 July 1991). He was the director of the 4th ECHA Conference which was held in October 1994 in Nijmegen. He is also consultant to other conferences like the 5th ECHA Conference in October 1996 in Vienna and the 4th Asia-Pacific Conference on Giftedness in August 1996 in Jakarta, Indonesia. In 1992 at the third ECHA conference in Munich he was elected as President of ECHA and was re-elected at the sixth ECHA conference in Vienna (1996) for a second term. He was also the Chairman of the 8th ECHA conference which took place on Rhodes (Greece), October 9-13, 2002. In 2004 he was for the third time elected as President of ECHA.

Under his Presidency a teacher training program has been developed and established at the University of Nijmegen which leads to the qualification "Specialist in Gifted Education". This university diploma is known as ECHA-Diploma. During the closing session of the 4th ECHA Conference in Nijmegen (October 11th, 1994) five teachers received the ECHA-Diploma. Throughout Europe there are now more than 3000 teachers who received the ECHA-Diploma. He is one of the four editors (Heller, Mönks, and Sternberg Subotnik) of the second edition of the International Handbook of Giftedness and Talent. Oxford: Pergamon (2000). In the year 2001 this handbook got the award "Outstanding Academic Title" by the American Library Association, published in the independent review journal CHOICE.
More information and contact visit the webpage of Internationales Centrum für Begabungsforschung.

Javier Tourón (president, 2000-2004)

Javier-TouronHe received a PhD in Education and another in Biology. He is the Professor of Educational Research Methods at the Department of Education of the University of Navarra (Spain). He was the President of the European Council for High Ability (2000-2004), a member of the National Advisory Board of the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University (2003-2011) as well as the founder and director of the Center for Talented Youth CTY Spain, a Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth International Charter Member.

He has published over 130 research papers in Spanish and English journals. He is the author and co-author of several books, some of them dedicated to the issue of high ability and talent development and the evaluation of educational systems. Javier Taurón's CV is available at the webpage of Universidad de Navarra. You can access selected publications from the Digital Academic Repository of the University of Navarra and you can follow him through the social networks like Facebook or YouTube.

Joan Freeman (founding president, 1987-1992)

Joan-FreemanProfessor Joan Freeman, PhD, the Founding President of ECHA, is a world expert in the lifetime development of gifts and talents. She is an elected Fellow of the British Psychological Society and holds their Lifetime Achievement Award for her work with the gifted and talented, among honours from elsewhere. Joan has written three UK government reports on the educating the gifted, as well as 17 books for scholars and parents and hundreds of academic and non-academic publications. She has given invited presentations in most parts of the world to scholars, practitioners and the public, has made many television programmes and is often in the media. Her private practice in London for gifted children is busy. Joan's latest book, Gifted Lives: What happens when gifted children grow up, describes the lives of gifted people in her unique intimate 35-year study-up.

More details can be found about Prof Joan Freman at her own webpage.

Secretaries of ECHA

Pieter Span (founding secretary of ECHA, 1987-1990)

Pieter-SpanDuring his studies political sciences, psychology and pedagogy at the University of Amsterdam, he already focused on learning processes of children. During and after his education at the university he worked at the famous 'psychological lab', founded by the Hungarian experimental psychologist Géza Révész. His personal interest at that time was the interaction between the personality of children and the teaching environmental instruction (Aptitude Treatment Interaction 'avant la lettre'). In 1965 he continued his professional career at the University of Utrecht, and became a full professor in 1972, after taking his doctors degree (on Field Independency in a teaching/learning situation). In 1983 Dick Snow (Stanford), Eric de Corte (Leuven), some others and he initiated EARLI: the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction. In the same year Franz Mönks invited him to meet with Joseph Renzulli. This started things to move. He managed to get financial support from the Dutch government for scientific research on identification and instruction of gifted students of secondary schools in the Netherlands.

1987 Joan Freeman, Harold Wagner and he founded ECHA. As we know now: very successfully. They even tried to carry out the message on the need of gifted education in African and Asian countries. In his lectures and workshops he emphasized the subject 'learning to learn' by gifted students. After his retirement from the university, he and two other colleagues started a private consultancy on giftedness in 1991 (PABU). They have worked with parents, schools and universities to accommodate gifted children. They implemented Renzulli's idea of Compacting Enrichment into a working model for Dutch schools. At 2013 his part in the PABU is limited. It is a great pleasure for him that the University of Utrecht is willing to incorporate the PABU in the near future. His efforts will be continued.

Harald Wagner (secretary and treasurer 1990 – 2004)

Harald-WagnerHarald Wagner was born in Ratzeburg, Germany in 1943. He studied Psychology at the University of Hamburg and received his Diploma in 1969 and his PhD in 1979. At the University of Hamburg he was engaged in several research projects and in teaching seminars on developmental psychology and methodology. He was Co-Organizer of the 6th World Conference on Gifted and Talented Children in 1985. From 1988 until 2009 he was Executive Director of "Bildung und Begabung e.V." in Bonn, an association organizing national competitions in mathematics and foreign languages and providing residential summer programmes for gifted high school pupils. 1992 to 2004 he was Secretary and Treasurer of ECHA; 1999 to 2009 he was Chairman of "Arbeitskreis Begabungsforschung und Begabungsförderung (ABB) e.V., a national association for professionals working in the field of giftedness; from 2007 to 2009 he was Chairman of "Arbeitsgemeinschaft rheinland-hochbegabt e.V.", a regional association promoting the support of gifted children in the Cologne area.

Johanna Raffan (secretary 2004-2012)

Johanna-RaffanJohanna M. Raffan MBE, HonLCP, FCoT, FRSA has had many years teaching experience and was a head teacher for 25 years in Nursery, Primary and Middle Schools. She was a founding member of the National Association for Able Children in Education (NACE), is a Past President, was the Founding Director for ten years and is currently a Trustee. Her experience in the field of Able, Gifted and Talented education over forty years has led her to lecture around the world. She was the Education Adviser on Able Children to the Government of Madeira, has worked extensively in Denmark and for ten years was the Consultant for More Able and Talented to the Welsh Government. Johanna was an Executive member and Secretary for ECHA and is a UK delegate to WCGTC. She is a Fellow of The College of Teachers and is currently Vice President and Secretary; a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts; a Federation Councillor for Soroptimist International; and a Churchwarden. In 2013 she was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to Gifted Education.

Lianne Hoogeveen (secretary 2012 - 2016)

Lianne HoogeveenDr. Lianne Hoogeveen is a program director of the Radboud International Training of High Ability (RITHA), a post-academic training at the Radboud Center of Social Sciences, qualified by the European Council for High Ability (ECHA). She coordinates the master specialization 'Gifted Education' at Radboud University. As a mental health psychologist, she examines and counsels adolescents and adults with high abilities at CBO Talent Development in Nijmegen. She is president of the qualification committee of the European Talent Centers and member of the Education Board of the European Council for High Ability (ECHA). As part of the Behavioral Science Institute (BSI) of the Radboud University, Lianne Hoogeveen is involved in research on giftedness and education, cooperating with colleagues of Dutch and international universities. She is a guest teacher in several European and non-European universities.


Editor-in-Chiefs of High Ability Studies

Arthur J. Cropley (editor-in-chief of European Journal for High Ability/High Ability Studies, 1989-1997)

Arthur-J-CropleyArthur Cropley was born in Australia in 1935. He served for 5 years in the Australian Army, was a schoolteacher for 4 years, then obtained his PhD from the University of Albertain 1965 and taught at the Universities of Reginaand Hamburg, with brief stints in Australia. After retiring he was adjunct professor of engineering at the University of South Australia and visiting professor at the University of Latvia. He was founding editor of High Ability Studies, and is on the board of the Creativity Research Journal. Professor Cropley received the Creativity Award of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children in 1997 and in 2004 was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Latvia. In 2008 he was admitted as an Officer of the Order of the Three Stars by the President of Latvia. He is the author of 27 books, with translations into a dozen languages.

Joan Freeman (editor-in-chief of High Ability Studies, 1996-1999)

Joan-FreemanProfessor Joan Freeman, PhD, the Founding President of ECHA, is a world expert in the lifetime development of gifts and talents. She is an elected Fellow of the British Psychological Society and holds their Lifetime Achievement Award for her work with the gifted and talented, among honours from elsewhere. Joan has written three UK government reports on the educating the gifted, as well as 17 books for scholars and parents and hundreds of academic and non-academic publications. She has given invited presentations in most parts of the world to scholars, practitioners and the public, has made many television programmes and is often in the media. Her private practice in London for gifted children is busy. Joan's latest book, Gifted Lives: What happens when gifted children grow up, describes the lives of gifted people in her unique intimate 35-year study-up.

Albert Ziegler (editor-in-chief of High Ability Studies, 2002-2007; 2015-2020)

Albert-ZieglerAlbert Ziegler, PhD, is the Chair Professor for Educational Psychology at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. He has published approx. 350 books, chapters and articles in the fields of talent development, excellence, educational psychology and cognitive psychology. Presently he serves as the Secretary General of the International Research Association for Talent Development and Excellence (IRATDE) and as the Editor-in-Chief of Talent Development and Excellence. His main interests in the field of talent development and excellence are the development of exceptional performances, the Actiotope Model of Giftedness and gifted training programs.

Heidrun Stoeger (editor-in-chief of High Ability Studies, 2007- 2014)

Heidrun-StoegerHeidrun Stoeger, PhD is chair professor for Educational Sciences at the University of Regensburg, Germany. She holds the Chair for School Research, School Development, and Evaluation. She is Editor-in-Chief of the journal High Ability Studies and member of the editorial board of the German journal of Talent Development. She also is vice president of the International Research Association for Talent Development and Excellence (IRATDE) and member of the scientific board of the Austrian Center of Giftedness Research. Her publications include articles, chapters and books on giftedness, self-regulated learning, motivation, fine motor skills and gender.

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