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

2017 Theme:

To be announced


February 24-25, 2017

The Ethnography Forum is internationally recognized for its encouragement of original and in-depth ethnographic research on education, youth, and children.

We were delighted to welcome the following distinguished scholars as keynote speakers to the 2016 Ethnography Forum: Teresa McCarty  and Mollie Blackburn.

The 2016 Annual Meeting's Theme

Dr. Nancy Hornberger, who has served as the Forum’s convener for the past sixteen years, has decided to bring her term to a close. We will be honoring Dr. Hornberger at this year’s Forum, for her dedication to the Forum as well as her significant scholarly contributions to the fields of Educational Linguistics and Educational Ethnography.

We have invited Dr. Hornberger’s close colleagues, such as Teresa McCarty, to be among the plenary speakers. Several of Dr. Hornberger’s students are organizing special panels. These invited sessions will highlight ethnographic work in the scholarly fields to which she has contributed, including: bilingualism and multi-literacies; indigenous education; immigrants, refugees and language diversity; and language education policy.

The theme of this year’s Forum resonates with developments across these areas of research, asking us to consider theoretical and methodological issues in the study of mobility through migration, cultural and linguistic hybridity and multiplicity within immigrant and indigenous populations, and the emergence of new types of media and forms of multimodality. What new theoretical horizons and methodological opportunities arise in studying emergent, shifting, and hybrid forms—linguistic and cultural—within the everyday lives of immigrant and indigenous youth? And what does the study of these forms contribute to the field of educational ethnography as well as to educational policy and practice?

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 participation. The Forum provides a space for ethnographers to come together across generations to share and learn from each other and, in so doing, to become part of a broader community of ethnographers interested in education, child, and youth studies.

The theme for the 38th meeting has not yet been announced.

Conference Fast Facts

  • 2017 Annual Theme: TBA
  • Conference Dates:
    February 24-25, 2017
  • Registration and Rates
  • Online Registration System:
    Opens November 1
  • Online Submission System (Currently Closed)

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. 

We will sponsor two different types of data analysis sessions at this year’s Forum (in your application to present in a data analysis session, please choose one):

  1. Preliminary Data Analysis Workshops: These sessions provide an opportunity for ethnographers in the initial stage of data analysis to discuss and work through various analytic strategies in relation to an excerpt from their data.
  2. Worked Example Sessions: These sessions are designed for researchers who have already made good progress in analyzing and writing up their analyses. Researchers may have developed preliminary conclusions from an analysis and wish to explore the significance of these emerging arguments. Others may want to discuss the explanatory value of using various theoretical frameworks in their analyses.


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.


  • Invited Sessions

    Select scholars making significant contributions that resonate with the annual theme will be invited by the Forum to present their work in practical, methodological or theoretical areas.

  • Senior Scholar Roundtables

    In the interest of strong mentorship and community building, senior scholars are invited by the Forum to give an open Q&A for researchers-in-training or early-career scholars. Such Roundtables allow scholars to discuss their personal path and their view of the field as a whole.


Conference Leadership Team


Kathy Hall
Associate Professor

Assistant Convenor

Rachel Skrlac Lo

Forum Coordinator

Veena Vasudevan

Administrative Assistant

Suzanne Oh

Forum Graduate Assistants

To be announced.

Practitioner Inquiry Convenor

H. Gerald Campano
Associate Professor

Practitioner Inquiry Coordinator

To be announced.

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