Special Education Research Centre (SERC) was founded in Šiauliai University in 1995. Since the beginning and until 2005 the Centre was led by professor Jonas Ambrukaitis. Special Education Research Centre united experienced and young Lithuanian researchers, doctoral students, studying various spheres of education of persons with disabilities, ways of meeting and assessing their educational, psychological, and social needs, also speech therapy and social integration areas. At present the main research topic of the Centre is “Exclusion and social participation: educational and psychosocial issues”.
Right from the beginning of its existence, the activities of SERC were geared towards promoting both interdisciplinary research (disability studies) and applied studies, which would make it possible for social integration, inclusion, empowerment, psycho-social resilience and social participation to take place.
Special Education Research Centre since its foundation has been publishing the academic journal “Special Education” that unites researchers and practitioners from the Baltic and other countries working in the sphere of education and social participation of persons with disabilities. The journal introduces the newest results of theoretical and empirical research, also the results of analysis of practical experiences in educational and social intervention. The Editorial Board of the journal consists of 25 scientists from 10 countries. In 2006 the journal “Special Education” was included in EBSCO publishing Education Research Complete data base, which is considered to be one of the most important data bases in the world.
On the initiative of the Special Education Research Centre annual national and international research and practical conferences and seminars have been organised.
The aim of these events is to introduce the newest research and project results into disability studies, special and incl;uisve eduactiona and related fields, to discuss practical issues of quality of life and inclusion of people with disabilities and other vulnarable people.
The events are open for public (NGOs, media, community members) discussions in order to rise up the awareness on inclusive education.
Since 2006 SERC has coordinated international research and practical projects of the Faculty of Social Welfare and Disability Studies of Šiauliai University. These projects help to implement the most modern ideas of special education, psychology and development of social welfare. Participation in projects supported by various European foundations, also in European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education projects and close collaboration with Special Education Sector of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania, also with numerous foreign partners from Belgium, Switzerland, Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, etc. stimulates new ideas, their joint realisation, and the dissemination of the newest tendencies in the sphere of social integration throughout the country.
At the moment, 3 research staff is employed at SERC. Virtual research groups are also organised.
The main activity spheres of the SERC are as follows:
Organising and carrying out research
Publishing monographs and research papers
Publishing academic journal
Coordinating project activities.