Highlights from National URBAN Conference

On April 30th and May 1st, the first national URBAN gathering took place at UMASS Boston. Forty-five scholars from across the country gathered for a 2-day working conference on “Collaborative Research for Equity and Action in Education.” Funded by a grant from the American Educational Research Association, the conference was designed to bring together scholars who practice different forms of action research to share lessons, identify commonalities and clarify differences in this diverse research tradition. According to Mark Warren, “the URBAN conference came at the right time. Scholars are increasingly looking for ways for their research to be more relevant to addressing pressing needs facing urban communities. Participants left with a stronger understanding of the ways that research can work together with community change agents in support of equity and social justice goals.”

The conference discussion focused on the ideas developed by five working groups in the following areas:

Advocacy, Neutrality and Collaborative, Equity-oriented Research – Mark R. Warren, Chair

Practices of Collaborative Research – John B. Diamond, Chair

Critical Participatory Policy/Organizing  – Michelle Fine, Chair

Ethical Issues in Collaborative Social Science Research – Ron Glass, Chair

Institutional Supports for Collaborative Research – Tim Eatman, Chair

These working groups collaborated for several months in preparation for the conference. Each group presented a paper or set of questions summarizing their work prior to the conference and those ideas were elaborated upon through a larger discussion at the conference. Conference working groups plan to produce a set of papers to be published in an edited volume or journal. This publication will be informed by the conference discussions and designed to advance the field of collaborative, community engaged scholarship.

The working groups are also working to create a set of videos that will serve as a companion to the graphic visualizations (below) which document the many ideas and connections between them that were made during the conference.  These can be found at the bottom of the page.

The conference also featured a public event sponsored jointly with the Boston chapter of URBAN and the Boston Educational Justice Alliance on the evening of April 30th. Invited panelists discussed the role of research and action in building a new vision for public education. The panelists included Boston area community and education activists as well as national leaders from the URBAN network. The deans of the McCormack Graduate School and the College of Education and Human Development hosted a reception for participants.

Graphic Visualizations

See below for a gallery of the graphic visualizations created throughout the conference.  Click on image to enlarge.

Working Group Videos

Below you will find videos created by each working group.  The videos describe what was documented in each group’s graphic visualization.

Ethics Working Group Video, featuring Ron Glass, Sheeva Sabati, and Joyce King.

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