Gershman/Ahler Distinguished Lecture in Qualitative Research
Prior to 1985 on the campus of the University of North Dakota there were no courses offered in qualitative methods. Two women pioneers Kathleen Gershman and Janet Ahler established the first qualitative methods courses and their profound dedication to the field established qualitative research as a major paradigm in our department, our college, and our university. It is an honor of the Department of Educational Foundations and Research to inaugurate the Gershman/Ahler Distinguished Lecture in Qualitative Research.
This annual lecture series will feature a speaker with expertise in cutting-edge qualitative methodological concerns.
2012 Dr. Bekisizwe Ndimande
The inaugural Gershman/Ahler Distinguished Lecture In Qualitative Research welcomed Dr. Bekisizwe Ndimande to campus on May 4, 2012. Dr. Ndimande is an Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include the politics of curriculum and examining the policies and practices in post- apartheid desegregated public schools and the implications of school "choice" for marginalized communities in South Africa. He has published several book chapters and journal articles, including in Qualitative Inquiry and Race, Ethnicity & Education.
Dr. Ndimande discussed the politics of qualitative research design and methodology along two primary dimensions: decolonizing research and the importance of Indigenous languages in research. This presentation emanates from an in-depth qualitative study that examined ideological beliefs among Indigenous parents regarding school desegregation and school "choice" policies in South Africa. First, the author argued that the language used in qualitative interviews should be situated within the larger sociocultural context of the inquiry in order to affirm and reinforce cultural identities of research participants, not just of the researcher. Second, the author contends that decolonizing approaches in research interrupt and interrogate colonial tendencies at multiple levels, thereby challenging traditional ways of conducting qualitative research. Following on Smith, and Mutua and Swadener, and Denzin, Lincoln, and Smith, and others, the author argued that decolonizing approaches and culturally affirming linguistic choices in research have the potential to return marginalized epistemologies to the center.
2013 Dr. Jolley Bruce Christman
Dr. Jolley Bruce Christman, PhD, is a co-founder of Research for Action (www.researchforaction.org). A nationally-recognized qualitative researcher, Christman has led an extensive array of research and evaluation studies focused on urban high school reform, professional learning communities, the privatization of public education, civic engagement and school reform, and evaluation methodology. She is associate Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education where she has taught qualitative approaches to program evaluation for two decades. Christman has received numerous awards including the Ethnographic Evaluation Award for excellence in the scholarly application of ethnographic procedures to policy decision making from the Council on Anthropology and Education, the Friend of Kids Award from Public Citizens for Children and Youth, and the Helen C. Bailey Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education.
Christmas discussed her experiences over years of fighting for progressive reforms in the Philadelphia public schools. She spoke specifically about the contributions of ethnography to her approach to evaluation, and she underscored for the many attendees in the room and online the key features of evaluation as a methodology and the core roles of the evaluator.
2014 Dr. Audrey Trainor
Dr. Audrey Trainor is an Associate Professor and Area Chairperson in the department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. In her decade there, she has developed a deep research expertise on culturally and linguistically diverse learners, particularly on how those learners transition from high school to adulthood and work. She has co-edited a book, written 31 peer-reviewed journal articles, 10 chapters in edited collections, and a number of other publications. Most importantly and most rare in special education is that the bulk of these studies use qualitative methods.
In her talk, “The Ethics of Evidence,” Dr. Trainor noted that in the contemporary era of evidence-based practices in education-related fields it is essential to examine how we operationalize the concept of evidence, what constitutes evidence, how the quality of evidence is measured and valued, and how it is used to support or refute practice. She noted that qualitative research has been particularly vulnerable to current definitions of evidence that manifest in narrow interpretations of what makes good research—namely quantitative, experimental designs. Yet, she argued, qualitative methodologies have much to offer the expansion of the construct of evidence in ways that can augment our collective ability to solve education’s most enduring and challenging problems. The consideration of evidence was framed in a discussion of ethics, focusing on the key constructs of reciprocity, reflexivity, and rigor.
2016 Dr. Doyle Stevick
Dr. Doyle Stevick is a renowned specialist in Holocaust education and a two-time Fulbright scholar to the Baltic nation of Estonia. He has worked closely with the Anne Frank House and many other programs, to combat religious intolerance, white supremacy, and other forms of bigotry and oppression. Dr. Stevick is Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Policies at the University of South Carolina, where he was founding director of the Office of International and Comparative Education. He is author of numerous scholarly articles and his co-edited books include Reimagining Civic Education: How Diverse Societies Form Democratic Citizens; Holocaust Education: Promise, Practice, Power and Potential; Advancing Democracy Through Education?: U.S. Influence Abroad and Domestic Practices; and As the Witnesses Fall Silent: 21st Century Holocaust Education in Curriculum, Policy and Practice.
His talk explored his experiences in doing research internationally on the often divisive topics of race, bigotry, and white supremacy. Originally a scholar of history and classical languages, Stevick had a career altering experience in 1999 when a former student of his went on a shooting spree targeting racial and ethnic minorities across several Midwestern states, leaving two dead and nine wounded. Stevick was compelled by the experience to try to understand the roots and damaging influence of white supremacy and how education plays a part. Qualitative methods, he argued, are perhaps the only methods that can accomplish that goal, and he discussed the difficulties of recognizing, teaching about, and truly understanding moral stances that are highly different from one’s own. This is a central challenge for qualitative researchers in education who want to advocate for racial, religious, gender, and ethnic justice.
Dr. Stevick’s visit to UND was supported by the generosity of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas as well as the UND Center on Human Rights and Genocide Studies.