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CALL: Grad Student Conference – Visual Research for Social Change




Date: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 (after AERA)

Location: Teachers College, Columbia University, New York

Co-organizers: The Visual Research Center (VRC) & the Media and Social Change Lab (MASCLab) at Teachers College, Columbia University

Keynote by: Wendy Luttrell, Professor of Urban Education, Critical Psychology, and Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center


The Visual Research for Social Change (VRSC) AERA post-conference invites graduate students to submit proposals for presentations, performances, and works-in-progress that bring together, express, and strengthen the intersections between visual research practices, media-based scholarship, and a commitment to justice and social change. Graduate students, artists, and practitioners are invited to share their cutting-edge visual methodologies, including their use of visual products (e.g., photos, videos, paintings, collage) and visual data, critical media analysis, multimodal storytelling, visual Internet-based research, artistic representations, and performances. We embrace interdisciplinary approaches and welcome proposals from different academic fields and across multiple domains.


  • To facilitate greater connections among graduate students and nurture interdisciplinary research projects for social change that exploit the use of visual methods and visual data across domains. Exploring the potential of visual methodologies challenges and transcends disciplinary boundaries, fostering complex ways of seeing within a trans-disciplinary forum.

  • To build an interdisciplinary community of students, researchers, scholars, artists, and practitioners committed to visual research that advances collective scholarship for social action, social justice, and social change.

  • To promote critical-activist work as a means of public engagement and social justice. Beyond the “academy monopoly,” VRSC engages with and promotes visual research and the work of local communities, museums, schools, artists, practitioners, and galleries that has significant potential for translational impact on social change.

  • As a post-AERA graduate student conference, to provide a forum for networking and professional development, built around a collective reflection on the relationship between academic research, the visual world, and our own potential contributions to engendering justice and social change.



To submit a proposal, please send an abstract of maximum 300 words and 1-3 visual artifacts as attachments or links (images, videos, links to online resources, etc) to by February 15, 2018. In your proposal, please specify the session you’d like to present at (see details below).


VRSC invites you to submit a proposal by choosing one of the three conference sessions at which you wish to present your research. While each session focuses on a line of visual inquiry, all three aim to create connections that highlight visual research for social change.

  • IMAGE-BASED RESEARCH welcomes a wide range of forms of visual inquiry for social justice, including visual ethnography, visual participatory research, visual Internet-based research, and any other visual approaches that use images as primary sources of data.

  • PERFORMATIVE INQUIRY seeks visual work that performs or enacts the research questions, and uses methods like performance ethnography or embodied visual methodologies to shed light on the social justice phenomena being investigated, and possibilities for social change.


  • IMAGI(NI)NG THE RESEARCH PROCESS invites works-in-progress that engage with visual methods and/or visual data, with the aim of encouraging reflexivity towards the process of data collection and analysis, and engendering conversations and feedback on research at various stages of completion.


Questions? Please contact us at or visit our websites: Visual Research Center and Media and Social Change Lab