The first meeting of what was to become the Graduate Student Conference on Philosophy and Education (GSCOPE) took place at Teachers College, Columbia University April 1st and 2nd, 2005. The conference was designed to meet four main objectives. First, the conference sought to provide a space in which students that had philosophical interests in education but who were not studying in a “Philosophy of Education” program could meet and converse with others with similar interests. There is an especially acute need for such opportunities because there are very few formal “Philosophy of Education” graduate programs in North America. Second, each program tends to have its own philosophical approaches and its own central concerns. Given the diversity in how philosophy and education is pursued in the different programs, GSCOPE sought to provide an opportunity for future scholars in the field to learn about these diverse methods and concerns. Third, the conference sought to provide an intimate setting for the exploration of concerns and ideas, thereby building a community of future scholars in the field. Fourth, GSCOPE also sought to help cultivate those future scholars by providing opportunities for them to participate in activities fundamental to professional academia such as presenting their research while responding to challenges and, for the hosts of the conference, organizing every facet of a conference including soliciting submissions, reviewing submissions, seeking funding and scheduling events. As the GSCOPE 2005 program notes: “As emerging scholars in the field we need this space for ourselves, to define our areas of academic research and interest, to refine work in progress, and to build an international community of our peers." 

Approximately 50 people submitted presentations for the inaugural GSCOPE, 32 of which were selected for the final program. Approximately 50 people attended the conference. Attendees and Presenters came from Canada as well as the United States. Rob Reich (Standford University) delivered the keynote address. The papers ranged from historical works on Plato, Montaigne, Descartes, Hegel, Nietzsche and Dewey to contemporary issues such as environmental injustice, school choice, authority and educational rights.

The 2005 GSCOPE organizers were very hopeful that the conference would develop into an annual event. To this end, they approached Graham McDonough and Trevor Norris, who were then doctoral students at OISE/University of Toronto, with the proposal that they would host GSCOPE’s second conference. In order to ensure that GSCOPE held true to its dual goals of bringing graduate students and graduate faculty from the field together from many schools of education the GSCOPE committee at TC had decided that it would be best to hold each conference at a different school location.

Establishing a Tradition
The bond and working relationship between the TC organizers and the OISE organizers set the tone for what GSCOPE has become today. The TC organizers opened and shared as much of their experience and working documents as possible and the OISE organizers used them to help organize their conference. As with the present day, the focus of the OISE organizers was to learn from the trailblazing experiences of those who ran the previous conference, and to develop their own version of it. The spirit that the early TC and OISE organizers hoped to create, therefore, was one of a common heritage that changes each year with the imprint of new organizers.

McDonough and Norris worked on the 2006 conference with the committee of fellow doctoral students Helen Anderson, Jim Lang, Francine Menashy, Abeer Shubassi, and Ann Yeong. For its installment, the committee worked hard to make communications with participants as clear, streamlined, and helpful as possible; the conference-day logistics to be as simple, natural, and convenient as possible; the environmental impact to be as minimal as possible; and for the conference fees to be as affordable as possible.