Reading: A Journey © 2005 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Donald Gensler. Used by permission.

2017 Theme:
Ethnography in Action

February 24-25, 2017

Register here


Join us to think critically about the role of ethnography and practitioner research in achieving social change and to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Practitioner Inquiry Day. This year we are pleased to announce that Jason Irizarry from University of Connecticut will be our Friday evening plenary speaker and Diane Wood from Towson University and Jennifer Mullenax from Baltimore Public Schools will be our Saturday morning plenary speakers. 

For more information on invited sessions and plenary talks, head to our key events page:
Forum Key Events

The 2017 Annual Meeting Theme

The Ethnography in Education Research Forum invites submissions for its 38th annual meeting. Our theme, Ethnography in Action, corresponds with our celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Practitioner Inquiry Day. This year’s theme highlights a concern at the heart of practitioner inquiry, community-based research, and action research more broadly: ethnographic research as a form of social action. In the midst of increasing economic disparities, deepening racialized, religious, and class divisions, and a rise in precarity, trauma, and fear across the globe, the need for action rarely has seemed more pressing. 

Ethnographic research has long provided a powerful vehicle for investigating the complexity of social problems and explaining how people experience and make sense of these problems in their everyday lives. During the past 20 years, we have witnessed the development of new and innovative as well as more ethical and inclusive approaches to using ethnographic research in the service of social action. Increasingly, ethnographic methods are being used in collaborative work, transformation-oriented projects, locally engaged policy reform research, and in the production and use of film in activist efforts. We have a great deal to learn from these creative developments and what they have been able to achieve. To this end, we invite researchers and practitioners who use ethnographic methods to come together to share and reflect on what has been learned and achieved in using ethnography in action.

After 30 years, Practitioner Inquiry Day remains faithful to its roots and provides a dedicated space for educators, youth, families, and community organizers to come together and inquire into, theorize, and collectively make meaning of their sites of practice. This year we celebrate these contributions and reflect on ways practitioner and action research intersects with ethnography. Practitioner Inquiry Day grew from an intentional shift, both in the U.S. and internationally, toward nurturing teacher research, action, and participatory research as well as bringing a critical lens to educational research more broadly. The intent of Practitioner Inquiry Day is to provide a space for university, school, and community-based researchers to share their scholarship. Participants include K-12 teachers, community college and university teachers, public and independent school leaders, community organizers, social activists, and others who share a commitment to democratizing the discourse around teaching, learning, and leading to include the voices and ideas of a wider span of participants.                  

The Forum welcomes scholars at all career stages seeking a supportive venue for sharing their ethnographic work at various stages of development. A longstanding trademark of the Forum is student involvement, both in conference coordination and in participation. The Forum provides a space for researchers and practitioners who use ethnographic methods in their work to come together across generations to share and learn from one another and, in so doing, to become part of a community interested in education and youth studies, and in working toward social justice more broadly. We invite you to join us for what is certain to be an enjoyable, enriching, and re-invigorating conference. 

Conference Fast Facts

Presentation Guidelines

Submission guidelines are available here.


We invite single or co-authored papers on issues in education, child, and youth studies. Papers must draw upon in-depth ethnographic research. Such papers describe the research problem, methodology, theoretical framework as well as the argument and its significance to the field.

PANEL SESSIONS  (75 Minutes)

Panels are organized around a thematic topic, and typically include three or four papers to be presented during the 75-minute slot.


Workshop sessions provide an opportunity for participants to discuss data analysis plans and issues with senior scholars and others attending the sessions. Such workshops allow for the discussion of the research problem and research questions, the methodology, relevant documents/transcripts/fieldnotes or other forms of data, as well as potential theoretical or conceptual frameworks for the analysis.  Presenters provide a clear rationale for why a particular piece of data is important and worth analyzing. 


Individual papers, panel sessions, and data analysis worships may be designated as Practitioner Inquiry. This method of inquiry includes practitioner research and uses an inquiry stance to consider and generate local knowledge. Practitioner inquiry in education research includes research by educators (pre-K to higher ed) as well as activists, community organizers, educational leaders, university researchers among others. Practitioner Inquiry Day, held on the Saturday of the Forum, will highlight presentations that use these methods.


Conference Leadership Team


Kathy Hall
Associate Professor 

Assistant Convenor

Rachel Skrlac Lo

Forum Coordinator

Veena Vasudevan

Administrative Assistant

Suzanne Oh

Forum Graduate Assistants

Uyen Ha, Jintao Na, Rachel Codkind, Alicia Heffner and Christian Miskell

Practitioner Inquiry Convenor

H. Gerald Campano
Associate Professor

Practitioner Inquiry Coordinator

Abdul-Qadir Islam

About the Forum

The Ethnography in Education Research Forum, convened by the Center for Urban Ethnography at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) every year since 1980, is the largest annual meeting of qualitative researchers in education. The Forum excels in nurturing ethnographic research and researchers in schools. The Forum is known for its friendly and supportive atmosphere for fledgling researchers and for the spirit of relaxed and open dialogue embracing newcomers and experienced researchers alike. Areas of emphasis include: multicultural issues in education, practitioner/teacher/action research, critical and feminist ethnography, ethnographic evaluation in education, language issues in education, uses of ethnography in math and science, and indigenous language revitalization.


Read More About the History

About Practitioner Inquiry Day

Marilyn Cochran-Smith and Susan L. Lytle –both assistant professors at Penn GSE at the time – initiated practitioner Inquiry Day in 1987 in response to the burgeoning U.S. and international interest in teacher research, action research, critical action research, and participatory research. From the beginning, the intent of Practitioner Inquiry Day was to provide a space for educators to share their research in various formats, including papers, symposia, data sessions, informal group discussions, and more.


Read More


Center for Urban Ethnography

University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education

Philadelphia, PA 19104-6216