Reflections on Action Research Group Ireland (ARGI) symposium – Pip

I was fortunate to be able to attend the ARGI symposium at UCD in full this year. Last year, owing to a commitment in Galway, I got only a morning’s attendance in. ARGI focuses on action research predominantly in the health and business fields, although there were education-oriented presenters as well. Around 40 people were present at this annual event – dates for next year are 28-30 June, location to be confirmed.

There was a large group (12 people) from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Mary Brydon-Miller from the University of Cincinnati also attended, as she regularly does. She and David Coghlan did keynotes, as did Margaret Gearty from the Ashridge Executive Education centre in Hertfordshire, who spoke very interestingly on learning history work. There were great conversations had about ways of doing action research; ways of encouraging the many PhD students, mainly already working in professions, who attended; the ethics involved in certain kinds of techniques; how to adequately capture and enrich research data, especially the kind collected by learning history work. Issues of power operation in organisations were also raised by several presenters, particularly those reporting on work in the health sector.

My presentation, on behalf of the NEARI organisers, sought to promote the benefits of local and global networking. As you can see from the slideshow Maírin has loaded to this website, I spoke of the difficulty of locating other action researchers when I first came to Ireland, and how I had ‘stumbled across’ ARGI. I argued for inclusion rather than exclusiveness in approaches to AR, and demonstrated the connective power of the e-poster that Whitehead, Huxtable and Delong helped to assemble, on which NEARI is represented.

It was great to have the support of Caitriona McDonagh at the session as she was able to speak of the authorship of books the NEARI organisers (excluding me) have written as a way of spreading the word on AR. I was also able to introduce Caitriona to a couple of the ARGI ‘regulars’ whom I’d previously met. Two of the organisers of the group, Geralyn Hynes and Mary Casey, are on the NEARI mailing list and Paula Downey, also on our list, was present at the symposium.

I warmly hope that connections between our two networks can continue and build over time. I will be returning to New Zealand in late March 2017 and it would be great to be able to watch the burgeoning of NEARI, and of its connections with ARGI and other action research groups in Ireland and globally, from afar.


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