Emerging from an ESRC-funded seminar series hosted by the Centre for Voluntary Organisations at LSE, the first meeting of the Voluntary Sector Studies Network was held at the University of Manchester on 6 March 1996. With an emphasis on collegiality and discussion, the Network established a pattern of twice yearly day seminars, providing a space for voluntary sector researchers to share insights and reflections, which continues today. As the field of voluntary sector studies has grown and matured, so too has the Network. Today, it is a formally constituted organisation, has over 100 members, hosts an annual 2-day conference, day seminars, roundtable events, a lively early careers group, and works with Policy Press to publish Voluntary Sector Review. Collegiality remains central.
On the 25th of March 2021 VSSN held an informal online celebration of the development of the Network over the past 25 years. We asked some of the key founding members to reflect back on the founding of VSSN, its development over time, and where it might look to go in the future. We also asked them to consider the state of the field of voluntary sector research, what we have collectively learnt, and what remains unanswered.
Chair: Rob Macmillan, Technical host: Angela Ellis Paine
Panellists: Peter Halfpenny; Pete Alcock; Margaret Harris; Chris Cornforth; Cathy Pharoah; Colin Rochester; Meta Zimmeck; Gareth Morgan; Mike Aiken; Helen Cameron; Marilyn Taylor and Jane Cullingworth