Research symposium offers rare interdisciplinary insight into LGBT research

by The College of Education  /   Jun 10, 2013

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Many of today's political debates include the topic of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues. Recognizing that researchers play an important role in providing empirical data to inform debates and policies, scholars from across campus, including two faculty members from the College of Education, organized an LGBT research seminar on methodological challenges and opportunities. The symposium, held in early May, was funded by a 2012-13 Focal Point grant from the Graduate College.

The event was designed to benefit both researchers studying LGBT populations specifically as well as those seeking to incorporate more diverse samples into their own fields of study. It was the result of a year's worth of sweat and tears by Joseph Robinson-Cimpian (far right in photo), assistant professor of Educational Psychology, and Cris Mayo (second from right), professor of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, as well as Megan Paceley, a student in Social Work, and Elizabeth Holman, a student in Human and Community Development.

The symposium's organizers point out that the seminar, like the planning committee, was interdisciplinary in nature. They also emphasize that while gender and sexuality studies have increased within the humanities, interdisciplinary collaboration between humanities and the education and social sciences has been limited. With this field of study expanding, researchers need to address methodological challenges while embracing study opportunities with this population and pushing to connect research and practice.

"The Focal Point grant is intended to stimulate conversations between departments across campus for innovative and collaborative work," Robinson explained. "We were so pleased with the conversations and programs that came out of this year-long focus on LGBTQ research methodologies that the symposium seemed the perfect way to wrap up the year."