Keynote Speakers

Co-responsible Relational Research Practice


Norma RA Romm (DLitt et Phil) is a Professor in the Department of Adult Education and Youth Development at the University of South Africa. She is author of: The Methodologies of Positivism and Marxism (1991); Accountability in Social Research (2001); New Racism (2010); Responsible Research Practice (2018); People’s Education in Theoretical Perspective (with V McKay, 1992); Diversity Management (with R Flood, 1996); and Assessment of the Impact of HIV and AIDS in the Informal Economy of Zambia (with V McKay, 2006). She has co-edited five books—Social Theory (with M Sarakinsky, 1994); Critical Systems Thinking (with R Flood, 1996); Balancing Individualism and Collectivism (with JJ McIntyre-Mills and Y Corcoran-Nantes, 2017); Mixed Methods and Cross-Disciplinary Research (with JJ McIntyre-Mills, 2019); and Democracy and Governance for Resourcing the Commons (with JJ McIntyre-Mills and Y Corcoran-Nantes, 2019). She has published over 100 research articles on social theorizing, transformative research towards social and ecological regeneration, Indigenous paradigms of knowing, and the facilitation of adult learning. She has worked (in teams) for commissioned research for organizations such as: The International Labor Organization (ILO), The International Organization for Migration (IOM), The Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and The United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF).


The concept of relational responsibility as applied to research practice is evocative of an approach to “knowing” where joint responsibility is expected to be taken for the potential effects in/on our social and ecological worlds of any theorizing or meaning-making in which we together engage. The concept encourages those involved in the relational web (including professional researchers situated in academia alongside lay practitioners researching social and ecological existence) to appreciate our involvement in the becoming of the worlds being “researched”. Relational co-responsibility means that as part of the knowing process we do not shy from taking some responsibility for: the chosen  research agendas (and the likely consequences of focusing on specific issues and involving participants and stakeholders accordingly in the discussion); the ways of co-generating and presenting research “insights” (which also will not be neutral in consequence); and the ways of inputting into wider social discourses (in academia and beyond) so as to avoid further marginalizing those – including mother nature – who have been historically marginalized (e.g., through processes of colonization). The paper will draw attention to how the (relational) onto-epistemologies and attendant axiologies as propounded by Indigenous scholars and sages from various colonized geographical areas, as well as the relational ideas formulated by non-Indigenous scholars urging for “the relational turn” in certain research circles, offer implications for co-responsible relational research practice. Examples (some from my own work and some from others’ work) will be offered of how indeed this can be instantiated in research practice.

Standing Vigil While Weary/Wary: Ethical Inquiry Enacted for Material Change


Dr. Aaron M. Kuntz holds the Frost Professorship of Education and Human Development at Florida International University, where he also serves as Chair of the Department of Counseling, Recreation, and School Psychology. Dr. Kuntz’s research focuses on developing “materialist methodologies” – inquiry practices that draw from the theoretical deliberations of relational materialism, critical theory, and poststructuralism. He grounds this work in empirical questions about the production of inquiry in the K-16 arena, faculty work and activism in postsecondary institutions, and the impact of the built environment on learning.
Dr. Kuntz’s many publications appear in a diverse array of research and methodological journals. His co-authored book projects include Qualitative Inquiry for Equity in Higher Education: Methodological Implications, Negotiations, and Responsibilities (Jossey-Bass Press), Leading Dynamic Schools: Implementing Ethical Education Policy (Corwin Press), and Citizenship Education: Global Perspectives, Local Practices (Routledge Press).
In 2015, Dr. Kuntz published his first solo-authored book, The Responsible Methodologist: Inquiry, Truth-Telling, and Social Justice (Routledge Press) which was selected as Honorable Mention for the 2017 AERA Qual SIG book award.

Dr. Kuntz’s latest book, Qualitative Inquiry, Cartography,& the Promise of Material Change  (Routledge Press) was awarded the 2020 Outstanding Book Award from the Qualitative SIG at AERA.


I begin this presentation by considering an entangled affect of weary/wary that seems to extend from our contemporary moment—one that draws from multiple material processes and often generates a type of exhaustive paralysis that is relentless in its force. Yet, the weary/wary tangle is never definite, never fully exhausted, and so I next turn to practices of standing vigil as a means to productively engage this indeterminacy. I thus offer an explication of inquiry as a resistive process through which alternatives to the status quo are both necessary and inevitable, yet never exhausted or exhaustible. Still, no practices are inherently revolutionary or inevitably challenge the governing status quo. Thus, I conclude by advocating for an inquiry orientation that stems from relational materialism and is bound by a determination to discern, map, and short-circuit the exploitative relations that govern our shared world such that we might create new ways of living, oriented by an immanent ethical position on material change.

Transformative Qualitatively Driven Mixed Methods: For a Change


Mertens, Professor Emeritus at Gallaudet University, specializes in research and evaluation methodologies designed to support social transformation. She has authored/co-authored many methodological books related to social, economic and environmental justice and human rights, most recently Program Evaluation Theory and Practice (2nd ed.); Mixed Methods Design in Evaluation; and Research and Evaluation in Education and Psychology (5th ed.). She has consulted with many international agencies, such as Centers for Disease Control, Johnson & Johnson Foundation, F3E, UN Women, Engineers without Borders Canada, and the WK Kellogg Foundation. Mertens served as the editor for the Journal of Mixed Methods Research 2010-2014. She was President of the American Evaluation Association in 1998 and served on the Board from 1997-2002; she was a founding Board member of the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation and the Mixed Methods International Research Association.


The secret to conducting research “for a change” lies in having clarity about the assumptions that lead us to methodological choices. The assumptions of the transformative framework ask researchers to ask: What do I consider to be ethical research? How can I design my research so that it addresses the ethical assumption that research needs to support an increase in social, economic, and environmental justice? And, how do I make visible versions of reality that sustain oppression and those that lead to transformative change? Transformative qualitatively driven mixed methods designs will be explored as one pathway towards meeting these challenges.

Ron Chenail, Nova Southeastern University

Sally St. George, University of Calgary

Dan Wulff, University of Calgary

Adam Rosenthal, Nova Southeastern University

The Heart of The Qualitative Report

It may seem odd to think about an academic journal or scholarly conference having a heart, but we think a bit differently about The Qualitative Report (TQR). Since 1990, we have approached TQR as a living, breathing community made up of people - researchers, research participants, authors, readers, editors, reviewers, presenters, and conference goers from around the world who think qualitative research can make a difference. Reflecting on this gathering of qualitative researchers, we wonder with all the available journal and conference options, why do authors choose TQR for their papers, why do people decide to submit their abstracts to our conference, why do thousands of authors download TQR articles every day, why do our reviewers review dozens of papers each year, why do we as editors spend countless hours working with authors and their papers, and why do we continue to keep the community the vibrant society it is? At its heart, we think TQR’s greater purpose is about making meaningful human connections; that is our “why.” That is why we exist and persist. Please join us in this interactive session as we explore these “why” questions in our efforts to better understand our purpose so we can improve meeting the human needs at the heart of the TQR community.