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Methodological Issues in Intercultural, International and Comparative Research: Opportunities, Challenges, Approaches and Future Trends

Call for Papers and Invitation to Day Conference Monday 22nd April 2013, 9.30am-5.30pm

Hosted by Durham University, School of Education, Leazes Road, Durham, DH1 1TA (Rooms: BU102/3 and BU107)

Funded by the BERA Special Interest Groups:
Comparative and International Education; Research Methodology in Education

Globalisation, Europeanisation and internationalisation have led to an increase in mobility, migration and diversity in societies, educational institutions and workplaces, as people move to live, study and work abroad. Researchers of all disciplines are increasingly collaborating with ‘cultural others’ both within and across geographical borders, particularly through interdisciplinary project partnerships involving researchers and research participants from other countries, regions, contexts and languages. This presents new opportunities and challenges for researchers and methodologists as they try to understand people from other horizons, include and make sense of multiple perspectives and shifting identities, and design appropriate methodologies that produce credible research outcomes. Leading researchers in the fields of Intercultural Studies and International and Comparative Education have widely acknowledged the importance of developing intercultural competence in order to engage and work with others appropriately and effectively. Increasing attention is now being paid to reflecting on the theoretical, epistemological and methodological processes of conducting research interculturally and the implications of this on all stages of the research process.

This one-day conference seeks to build upon these important discussions and on the research of two particular research teams that are currently working on these themes and issues, namely the AHRC-funded ‘Researching Multilingually’ project and the BAICE Thematic Forum (BTF) on Insider/Outsider Perspectives in International and Comparative Education. Presentations from members of these research teams and other key speakers will provide a basis and structure for discussion amongst conference presenters and participants. Speakers include:

Professor Hugh Starkey: Professor Starkey will discuss recent experience of researching the intercultural issues implied by ‘learning to live together’ (Delors, 1996). All the projects aspire to critical cultural awareness (savoir s’engager) namely the ‘ability to evaluate critically, on the basis of explicit criteria, perspectives, practices and products in one’s own and other cultures and countries’ (Byram, 1997). The explicit criteria used include a commitment to human rights and children’s rights as the basis for education for cosmopolitan citizenship. This ontological commitment to international and universal standards is always challenged by more local culturally embedded practices, including neo-liberal economics, nationalism, Islamism, racism and corruption. Using examples from contexts such as China, Cyprus, England, Greece, Japan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico and Palestine, he will discuss some of the methodological challenges of collecting qualitative data from young people who face tensions and contradictions as they learn to live together and engage with wider political and social issues.

Dr Prue Holmes, Dr Richard Fay, Dr Jane Andrews, Dr Mariam Attia: The Researching Multilingually project (see: has focused upon developing a better understanding of how researchers working multilingually theorise and operationalise all aspects of their research design, including: the use of literatures, data collection tools, the analysis, interpretation and presentation of data. Researcher reflections have included the opportunities and challenges of researching multilingually, including the language choices made and dealing with power dynamics. The keynote presenters will discuss questions and issues arising from this project and outline areas that are in need of further research.

Professor Michael Crossley, Dr Elizabeth McNess, Dr Lore Arthur: The BAICE Thematic Forum ‘Revisiting Insider/Outsider Perspectives in International and Comparative Education’ has brought together researchers interested in developing a more nuanced understanding of how these concepts can be theorised and applied, particularly in terms of better understanding the complex relationship between the researcher and the researched. Discussions and writing collaborations have focused on the opportunities, challenges and tensions researchers experience as insiders or outsiders to the research context and on the importance of designing methodologies that are both sensitive to and detached from the cultural contexts in which they are operating in order to remain systematic and rigorous. The keynote presenters will discuss questions and issues arising from this project and outline areas that are in need of further research.

Key themes of interest include:

  • Theoretical, epistemological and methodological approaches and challenges in designing and conducting research in intercultural and multilingual contexts
  • Issues and implications around being and Insider/Outsider during the research process
  • Cultural and linguistic barriers/challenges to understanding ‘cultural others’ when engaged inintercultural research
  • Issues of multiple and shifting identities, particularly of the researcher and the researched and how thisimpacts on the research process and outcomes
  • Power dynamics, ethical issues, and the importance of reflexivity
  • ‘Western’ and ‘non-western’ approaches in intercultural research and the significance of the dichotomyCall for Papers: Please submit a 300 word abstract to by Monday 18th March 2013 with the subject line: intercultural conference abstract. Please include your name, title, institutional affiliation, and email address. Include a brief bio of 100 words. Abstracts will be peer-reviewed by a team of reviewers and notification sent out by Monday 25th March 2013. Presentations are expected to last 20 minutes with 10 minutes for questions and discussion.Publication of Papers: Conference presenters of strong papers will be invited to submit their paper for review for a thematic issue of the journal ‘Research in Comparative and International Education’.

    Conference Registration: This event is free and includes lunch and refreshments. To register please send an email to: with the subject line: intercultural conference registration. Please include your name, title, institutional affiliation, email address and specify if you have any dietary requirements. As attendance is limited, please register early to guarantee a place.

    Conference Website:
    Please check the conference website from time to time for any updates to the conference details.

    For further enquiries, please email Dr Nicola Savvides, Convenor of the BERA SIG Comparative and International Education, School of Education, Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom, at:



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