Call for Papers: 2025 Ethnography in Education Research Forum – Jun 1

Posted by University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education on May 14, 2024

We live in politicized times. Global crises, political divisions, and economic insecurity have come to mark the last decade, and the approaching 2024 election holds the potential to redress or exacerbate these tensions. As we anticipate the political landscape unfolding, a wide and growing array of issues pose challenges for educators, schools, families, and scholars as they seek to understand and navigate an evolving landscape. For our February 2025 conference, the Ethnography in Education Research Forum invites scholars and researchers to submit their qualitative and ethnographic inquiries that interrogate the connection between democracy and education, particularly in uncertain or precarious times. This call for papers seeks to explore the nuanced ways in which educators and educational institutions, broadly defined, may serve as sites for democratic struggle, hope, or something in between.

We encourage submissions that delve into the multifaceted dimensions of uncertainty, revealing how complex human beings acquiesce, ignore, resist, or challenge their political worlds. Ethnographers, practitioners, students, and scholars are therefore invited to illuminate how university campuses, K-12 schools, and community spaces become dynamic arenas for the negotiation of democratic values, where societal uncertainties are woven into the daily experiences of students, educators, and administrators.

Central to this call is the recognition that uncertainty necessitates adaptability. We are particularly interested in contributions that shed light on how both members of communities, or ethnographers themselves, navigate and pivot to respond to these politicized conditions. Whether it be through innovative methodological approaches, the exploration of unconventional educational settings, or the examination of grassroots initiatives, we seek papers that showcase the agility and resilience of ethnographers in capturing the dynamic interplay between democracy and education in times of flux.

Ethnography stands as a cornerstone in pursuit of both intellectual questions and justice in the world, offering a nuanced understanding and attending to the diversity of human experiences. Since 1980, the Ethnography in Education Research Forum at the University of Pennsylvania has stood as a platform for scholars, students, and educators to converge, share insights, and contribute to the advancement of our field. Convenors of the Forum have embraced the notion that ethnography is not merely a research method; it is a profound way of unraveling complexities and engaging with the world. As stewards of this legacy, we will continue to promote the Forum as a powerful training ground for dedicated and ethically grounded ethnographers and qualitative researchers.

As such, this call for papers goes out to all of those who aim to foster a rich dialogue on schools as (potentially) democratic spaces in uncertain times, challenging researchers to rethink and redefine the boundaries of their ethnographic practice to capture the essence of democratic education in the face of uncertainty. We will be accepting papers through June 1, 2024 for the conference, which will be held at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 7-8, 2025.

Visit the Forum website for more details on the theme and how to submit a proposal.  For any questions, please email

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