The idea to establish a network of European universities in the field of children’s rights studies originated in 2004. It was inspired by the network of various Latin-American universities and Save the Children Sweden. Thanks to the tireless efforts by Juan Enrique Bazán, a Peruvian child rights activist and researcher, who was convinced of the need to train a ‘critical mass’ of people who can trigger change in the field of children’s rights, both the Latin American network and the European network were initiated.
Logo of the “European Network of Masters in Children’s Rights” (2004-2012)
Manfred Liebel, Director of the M.A. Childhood Studies and Children's Rights at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam, Germany, with colleagues from seven West and Central Eastern European Universities, including the universities of Amsterdam, London Madrid and Cluj-Napoca established a similar network in Europe, initially with the aim to develop a joint European Master Degree in Children’s Rights. As the goals of this network concentrated on developing higher education programmes, it adopted as a name “European Network of Masters in Children’s Rights (ENMCR)”. Besides receiving support from Save the Children Sweden, ENMCR also succeeded in obtaining project funds under the European Commission’s Erasmus programme. The network rapidly expanded, and by 2011 more than 25 universities and research institutes that offer teaching programmes and courses in children’s rights were included.
In 2012, ENMCR received an important grant from the EU’s Lifelong Learning Programme to run and coordinate, over a period of three years, numerous activities with 35 partner universities, research institutes and international organisations. This project, which was labelled “Children’s Rights Erasmus Academic Network”, aimed at further enhancing the academic field of children’s rights studies as an interdisciplinary field of studies.
Logo of the EU lifelong learning project “Children’s Rights Erasmus Academic Network” (2012-2015)
It capitalised on the investment and strengths of the extant network to engage new members in conducting a series of particular activities, including the organisation of children’s rights conferences in Madrid (2013), Vilnius (2014) and Geneva (2015); the setting up of a Summer School on non-discrimination (Braga, 2014); the development of interdisciplinary teaching materials through expert workshops; the holding of regional Mediterranean and Nordic meetings on children’s rights; the creation of a body of early career researchers, inter alia by awarding a prize to such researchers; and the exchange of teachers across higher education institutions in Europe.
At the closing of the project in July 2015, the network members decided to merge the members of ENMCR and of the Erasmus project into a single European network with an extended mandate and sustainable mission. It was decided to further strengthen and expand the network’s teaching, research and outreach activities in the interdisciplinary field of children’s rights studies and enlarge its membership. To reflect the broadening scope of its activities, the network changed its name from ENMCR to “Children’s Rights European Academic Network” (CREAN), which is since 2016 the network’s official name. To ensure the network’s sustainability and future development, the CREAN’s coordination office has been transferred from the Free University of Berlin, which had been the network’s coordinator since its inception, to the Centre for Children’s Rights Studies at the University of Geneva. The Coordination Office receives funding from the Swiss federal government’s State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI, which enables the network to further expand its activities and membership for the years to come.