University of Roehampton

Early Childhood Research Centre (ECRC)


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Contact E-mail:


Contact Mailing Address:
University of Roehampton
Early Childhood Research Centre
Professor Mathias Urban
Roehampton Lane
London SW15 5PJ
United Kingdom


Site Coordinator:
Professor Mathias Urban


Participating faculty, staff and students


Early childhood is a critical period in human life and in human society. Promoting each child’s well-being, and ensuring the unfolding of her or his full potential – no matter where and into which circumstances they are born – goes hand in hand with society’s fundamental need to reassure and reconcile images of its past, present and future. Striving to better understand young children and their potential in all aspects of their lives, and investigating the increasingly neo-liberal imaginary of childhood in society are the two interconnected foci of the research conducted at the Early Childhood Research Centre (ECRC). Both aspects have received unprecedented attention in recent years, locally and globally, and their relationship has become problematic.

The Early Childhood Research Centre builds on a long tradition of critical inquiry in the field. We investigate histories, policies and politics, pedagogies and practices in early childhood locally and internationally from a critical perspective that is informed by a shared interest in the transformative potential of collaborative research.

As a research centre we have initiated and are involved in numerous collaborative activities with local, national and international partners. These include international symposia, writing collaborations, and research collaborations with international and UK partners in a global network of collaborative sites. Partnerships include universities and research centres, local authorities and schools, professional associations, advocacy networks, government agencies and departments and international bodies.

With the research conducted at the ECRC we position ourselves and the study of early childhood in a context of critical theory and practice, diversity and social justice. With our work we hope to contribute to building what Paulo Freire calls critical consciousness (conscientização) in the field.

We have a particular interest in the professional practices of working with young children (pre-natal to the age of ca. 8), families and communities. Professional practice in early childhood, we believe, is always relational, profoundly uncertain, and inevitably political.

We situate our work in the tradition of Friedrich Froebel, the 19th century Kindergarten pioneer, whose ideas we see as highly relevant for contemporary early childhood contexts. Froebel emphasised the unique potential of every child and the importance of play as the key to children making sense of the world. He conceptualised the education of young children as a public good and responsibility – something that could be thought and done independent of church and state. His ideas and practices depended on highly qualified practitioners and the Froebel Kindergarten movement has made a major contribution to the professionalization of women in the 19th and early 20th century. All of these ideas are, we believe, as relevant and radical now as they were then.

A prominent feature of the ECRC is the Froebel Archive for Childhood Studies; a unique collection of materials for the study of Friedrich Froebel and the Froebel movement that draws researchers from all over the world.

ECRC hosts an international and interdisciplinary group of researchers consisting of members of staff, international research fellows and visiting professors, and international research students. Our scholarly community also includes undergraduate and Masters’ level students of early childhood The centre is directed by Professor Mathias Urban, a leading international scholar in the field.


Faculty and students active in Qualitative Research:


Research students:


Upcoming workshops, seminars, conferences:

Research initiatives, grants: