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

Convened by the Center for Urban Ethnography at Penn GSE since 1980, the Ethnography in Education Research Forum is internationally recognized for its encouragement of original and in-depth ethnographic research on education broadly defined, within and outside the context of schooling. The Forum provides a space for ethnographers in a range of disciplines and fields to come together across generations to share and learn from each other and, in so doing, to become part of a broader intellectual community. The Forum is committed to advancing systematic, rigorous, and engaged inquiry and to involving students in all phases of the meeting.

We would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to the outgoing leadership team for their dedication and exemplary service in organizing our conference. They have been apt stewards of the conference, its legacy, and its mission to foster meaningful connections among participants. As we embark on a new chapter, we are excited to announce a seamless transition of leadership, ensuring continuity and fresh perspectives. Our focus now shifts toward charting an ambitious path forward, with plans to expand the conference’s scope and impact, promising an enriching experience for all attendees. We remain as dedicated as ever to sustaining the legacy of the Forum as the lead conference in the field of ethnography and education as well as an intellectual space that nurtures younger scholars and students. We look forward to sharing further updates on the Forum soon.

Forum Fast Facts

  • Next Conference Dates: TBA
  • Location: University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, Philadelphia PA
  • Submissions: TBA
  • Registration: TBA
  • Plenary and Keynote Speakers: TBA
  • Volunteers: Penn Students will be able to volunteer here.
  • Questions:
  • Follow Us: @EthnoForumGSE, #EthnoForum

Previous Conference Themes

2023: To be announced.

2021: Ethnography in Education: Ethnography & Racial Justice

Ethnographic research has created interdisciplinary pathways to think expansively about how culture is understood, entwined with related concepts, and revised to weigh critical questions of race, racism, and inequality. Ethnographic scholarship has examined the everyday lives, hardships, and forms of resistance within historically marginalized communities and has provided nuanced analyses that delineate the intersections of these issues with problems of educational access and social (in)equity. The 2020 protests and uprisings, most notably Black Lives Matter, remind us — as a field and as members of society — that the problems of systemic racism are longstanding, persistent, and woven into the fabric of education. They also urge us to move forward boldly, directing and refining our scholarship to advance the uncoupling of structural barriers for students, their families, and communities — and to bring about new educational dispositions.

2020: Partnerships for Change

2019: Methodologies, Equity, & Ethics 

2018: Whose Knowledge Counts? Research and Practice in Critical Times

2017: Ethnography in Action


Forum Plenary Speakers

2023 Forum Plenary Speakers

To be announced.

2021 Forum Plenary Speakers

Dr. Prudence L. Carter
Dean, Graduate School of Education
University of California, Berkeley

Dr. Manuel Espinoza
Associate Professor of Education
University of Colorado Denver
School of Education & Human Development

Dr. Eve Ewing
Assistant Professor
University of Chicago
School of Social Service Administration

Dr. Carla Shedd
Associate Professor of Sociology & Urban Education
City University of New York Graduate Center

Dr. Vaughn V. M. Watson
Assistant Professor of Education
Michigan State University, College of Education

Announcements & News

Update Regarding Ethnography in Education Research Forum

Please note that we have decided to move to a biennial meeting (2023, 2025, etc.) to give the ethnography team at Penn more time to prepare and give our participants and presenters more time for their research to mature. We remain as dedicated as ever to sustaining the legacy of the Forum as the lead conference in the field of ethnography and education as well as an intellectual space that nurtures younger scholars and students. Our next Forum will be in spring 2023. Please see here for the official announcement and further information.

Erickson and Hornberger Outstanding Book Award

The Outstanding Ethnography in Education Book Award has been established to acknowledge and honor a recent, book-length, academic publication, published in the past three years, that draws on ethnographic inquiry into education, broadly defined. Submissions will be due by May 1, 2024.

The Outstanding Book Award, Submission Guide
The Outstanding Book Award, Online Entry Form (Coming Soon)
Questions may be directed to Dr. Alex Posecznick (

Past winners:

2021: Dr. Erica Turner, Suddenly Diverse
2020: Dr. Eve Ewing, Ghosts in the Schoolyard
2019: Dr. Gabrielle Oliveira, Motherhood across Borders

Twitter Feed for @EthnoForumGSE


Forum Leadership & Staff

Dr. Roberto Gonzales
Convenor of the Ethnography in Education Research Forum
Richard Perry University Professor of Sociology and Education

Dr. Alex Posecznick
Associate Director of the Ethnography in Education Research Forum
Book Award Committee Chair
Adjunct Associate Professor of Education; Program Manager of Education, Culture, and Society

Paula Rogers
Administrative Support for the Ethnography in Education Research Forum
Program Assistant, Education, Culture, and Society


Graduate Assistants, 2023-24

Coming Soon

Our History

The Center for Urban Ethnography (CUE) was founded in 1969 with a major grant from the Center for Studies of Metropolitan Problems of the National Institute of Mental Health. CUE moved to the Graduate School of Education in 1976, where it undertook a series of funded research projects, including studies of urban literacy, urban neighborhoods, and a range of other urban issues. The expertise of the staff and faculty associates of the Center for Urban Ethnography is nationally recognized in the areas of practitioner research, ethnographic research design, school/community studies, qualitative evaluation and technical assistance, and monitoring classroom instruction and learning environments.


CUE first convened the annual Ethnography in Education Research Forum at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education in 1980. The Forum has from the beginning excelled 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 oldtimers alike.  

Practitioner Inquiry Day at the Ethnography Forum was initiated in 1987 by Marilyn Cochran-Smith and Susan L. Lytle – both assistant professors at Penn GSE at the time – and grew from the burgeoning interest in teacher research, action research, critical action research, and participatory research that was evident across the U.S. and internationally. 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, and informal group discussions. A number of featured speakers, groups, and individuals from around the U.S. and internationally have attended and presented during Practitioner Inquiry Day. Participants are 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.

Practitioner Inquiry Day celebrated its 10th anniversary in 1997, its 20th in 2007, and its 25th in 2012, each time with a special program to acknowledge and explore the evolving movement of practitioner research. At its 20th anniversary, there was a memorable Reader’s Theater performance, “Practitioners’ Voices,” that highlighted the rich perspectives and diverse experiences of teachers, school leaders, and other educators whose inquiries explore teaching, learning, and schooling (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009). In 2012, on the 25th anniversary of Practitioner Inquiry Day, Professor Gerald Campano initiated a midday Forum for presentations that focus on Communities of Inquiry. Special celebrations and events have marked milestones in Teachers College Press’ Practitioner Inquiry Series, which grew out of the Ethnography Forum’s Practitioner Inquiry Day, and each year there has also been a special display of books by and for practitioner researchers. 

After more than three decades, Practitioner Inquiry Day remains faithful to its roots by providing a dedicated space for educators, practitioners, and community organizers to come together and inquire into, theorize, and collectively make meaning of their sites of practice. 

View Past Keynotes & Panels

Ethnography Forum Submission Guidelines

To submit an abstract proposal, you must create an account on our submission portal.  More details can be found in the Steps for Submission section below. If you have any technical problems, please send us an e-mail at

Fast Facts

  • All presenting authors of accepted papers must register for the Forum and present at the assigned time.
  • All papers, abstracts, etc. should be submitted without any identifying information. Authors should ONLY be identified in fields specifically requesting this information.
  • Accepted papers will be notified by e-mail by mid-December.

Proposal Evaluation Criteria

  • Significance for education
  • Conceptual orientation
  • Methodology
  • Description and data analysis
  • Clarity and quality of proposal

Steps for Submission

The SUBMISSION PORTAL will open in summer 2022

Please follow the link above and select “Create Account.”  Once you have created an account and selected a password, please return to the submission portal and select “Log In.”  It is important to retain your e-mail/username and password for all future participation in the Forum - please use the same account for submissions, registration, and so on.

Once you are logged in you can select “Abstract Submissions” to submit a new proposal, or look for updates on proposals already submitted.  Select the green button “Submit Abstract” to begin a new proposal. As the conference draws closer, you will also be able to register for the conference and preview the program through this portal. 

Note: In this system, proposals are referred to as “abstracts.”  You will, however, be asked to submit more than an abstract for your proposal submission (see more details below).

Step 1: Enter Title and Select Submission Type

Please select the appropriate session type as described below:

Session Types

Session Type A: Symposia Submissions

 Symposia submissions are intended to spotlight original, empirical research through the presentation of interconnected papers that emanate from a collective or shared group project or that represent individual empirical work focused on a common issue or theme. Symposia may include up to four papers. Proposals should include a 600-word overview, including a statement of the significance of the topic and the interconnections among the papers to be presented. They should also include a 500-word summary of each paper, describing the goals of the study, approaches used, findings, and significance to the field. Submissions from both traditional researchers and practitioners are encouraged, including collaborations.

The symposium organizer will be responsible for submitting the full proposal including all paper summaries, providing contact information for prospective presenters, and ensuring that the proposal submission is complete. The organizer may choose to be the chair of the session or identify someone else to serve as chair. Each symposium will be 75 minutes.  

Proposals will be peer reviewed, and those with the highest scores will be invited. Presentations should consider the wide range of ethnographic-focused inquiry and methodological options that can be used to study historical and contemporary issues related to race and racial justice to capture both their complexity and the possibilities for education research to address them.

Session Type B: Communities of Inquiry Interactive Poster Hall

Uniquely designed for the virtual 2021 Ethnography Forum, the Communities of Inquiry Interactive Poster Hall will be a special platform open throughout the entire Forum. Ten community partnership projects will be invited to participate from the highest peer-reviewed submissions. Special attention will be given to community partnership projects that highlight the historical issues of race that have continued into the present and draw upon the wide range of ethnographic-focused inquiry to pursue educational research, scholarship, practice, and policy in service of social transformation.

Proposals should include an 800- to 1000-word overview that indicates the history of the partnership, the goals of the study, the research approaches in use, ways of measuring/evidencing community impact, and significance for the field.

Invited submissions will be tasked to develop interactive slideshows for attendee engagement and will be provided a personalized digital venue for asynchronous feedback and reflection. Each individual project will be introduced through a 5-minute lightning talk during Friday’s Communities of Inquiry mid-day plenary session (75 minutes).

Step 2: Input Abstract/Proposal Summary

The abstract summary should be a brief (100 word) overview of the work to be presented. Note: This should be submitted WITHOUT author identification.

Step 3: Identify Key Words

At this time, we have 44 topical key words available.  Please select the three words/phrases that best describe the proposal overall, from the following listing: 

  • Adult, Post-Secondary and Higher Education
  • African-American/ Diaspora
  • Arts Education
  • Asian-American, Pacific Islander/ Diaspora
  • Bi/Multilingualism
  • Boys’ Education/ Experience
  • Citizenship and Civic Education
  • Critical Theories
  • Curriculum Development and Pedagogy
  • Digital/Virtual/Online Contexts
  • Disability and Special Education
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Educational Policy
  • ESL/Second Language Acquisition
  • Evaluation, Testing, Assessment
  • Family- Community- School Relations
  • Film, Media and Technology
  • Foreign or Heritage Language
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Girls’ Education/ Experience 
  • Identity/Subjectivity
  • Immigration/ Migration 
  • Indigenous Contexts
  • International and Comparative Education
  • Informal Education
  • K-12
  • Latino, Latin-American/Diaspora
  • Literacies
  • Markets and Neoliberalism
  • Math Education
  • Methodological Reflections/ Innovations
  • Multi-Modality
  • Narrative
  • Race or Ethnicity
  • Rural
  • Science Education
  • Semiotics
  • Social Interaction
  • Study Abroad
  • Teacher Education
  • Transnationalism
  • Urban
  • Writing

Step 4: Upload Proposal

A detailed description of the work to be presented should be uploaded as a file (.pdf, .doc, docx). Symposium submissions (Session Type A) should include conceptual orientation, data collection and analysis methods, data interpretation, and significance to education (limit 1500 words, not counting references) in addition to titles and abstracts for each individual paper toward a maximum limit of 4000 words. As noted, Communities of Inquiry Interactive Poster Hall submissions (Session Type B) should include an 800- to 1000-word overview that indicates the history of the partnership, the goals of the study, the research approaches in use, ways of measuring/evidencing community impact, and significance for the field.

Selection for the program is based primarily on this description. Please indicate if it is a work-in-progress (i.e., offering preliminary findings and tentative conclusions) in the body of your description. Note that this description should be submitted without author identifications. If you cite your own work in the description, please blind the reference by listing “Proposal Author, (year)” instead of a traditional reference. Please remove all identifying information including site and participant details.

Step 5: Identify Author(s) and Affiliation(s)

Please identify all authors, their contact e-mail addresses, their affiliations, and Status (student, faculty member, and so on). Please note that the titles, authors, institutions, and emails you give here will appear in our program, so it is important to include this information in full.

For symposium submissions with papers (Session Type A) please include a paper title to be associated with each author. In addition, one person must be identified as a primary author, who will be considered chair and organizer. Please select “Presenting Author” for all authors who plan to attend and speak at the conference.

Step 6: Review and Submit Your Proposal

Please review all elements of the proposal and the detailed steps outlined above. Please remember that as this is a peer-reviewed conference, authors’ names should only be included in Step 5. At this point, you may either "Save and Submit Later" or simply "Submit" your proposal for review. To be considered, please be sure to click "Submit" by the deadline.

Contact Us

Center for Urban Ethnography

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania
3700 Walnut Street 
Philadelphia, PA 19104