The Conference's catalyst papers

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Download a conference registration form and submit to join our conference and participate in the engagement with peers with our sixteen presenters' catalyst papers.

Catalyst papers are a variant of a conference abstract, and a first step on the journey to a possible peer reviewed journal article and allow a presenter to open discussions with participants around a practice issue of current relevance to the presenter.

Catalyst papers are presented within a participatory format, moving delegates beyond the conventional 'conference' format.

For further thinking about, and preparing for the conference, Download a sample catalyst paper now, and consider how aspects of your practice might be developed to respond to the conference themes as they relate to your field of practice.

Current catalyst presenters:

NOTE: members can access the catalyst papers by clicking the 'read more' links below. If you want to see more then join ALARA to enjoy full access as a member! 

1. Susan Goff: Enabling Emergent Knowledge and Knowing [read more]

In this catalyst workshop it would be good to build shared knowledge
about how we speak about emergent knowing, how we advocate for it, and
the practices we use as action researchers and action learners to
generate it. I would be interested to co-author a paper with

2. Shankar Sankaran and Elyssebeth Leigh: 'Systems Thinking for Wicked Problems [read more]

This workshop will use a framework to explore a ‘wicked problem’
related to the theme of this conference to evaluate how an action
research approach based on soft systems thinking can assist in
exploring such a problem with multiple stakeholders. At the beginning of the workshop an introduction to wicked problems
will be made. The participants will then discuss and propose some
‘wicked problems’ related to the theme of the conference to use at the
workshop. A problem where many participants have a stake would then be
selected. An explanation of how soft systems thinking is used to
address ill-structured problems will be made followed by teams working
on the selected wicked problem using tools provided by the
facilitators. At the end of the workshop a reflection session will be
used to discuss what was useful and what could be improved with the
action research process used to address wicked problems.

3. Pam Kruse: Developing the whole individual at the workplace [read more]

At the ALARA conference, we could consider the effectiveness of
leadership development programs in the workplace and policies to assist
employees to balance work, life and family responsibilities. I suggest
using an action method to explore with fellow participants:

  • any incongruence between the philosophy and practice of Managers,
    employees and unions and why that incongruence may or may not exist;
  • the culture in the workplace – what inhibits? What supports?
  • the practicalities and the return on investment for organizations;
  • the impact on individuals in their respective roles in communities, families and workplaces;
  • the impact of economic rationalism; and
  • other suggestions of participants.

4. Elyssebeth Leigh: Bringing the “Whole Person” in to Play [read more]

  • What do the facilitator of action learning and of simulations and
    games for learning really do when they are ‘in charge’ of the process?
    What would a description of this ‘performance’ contain?
  • How can action learning principles be enacted by facilitators so as to explicitly model those principles in action?
  • What life/learning experiences support – or inhibit – enactment of this kind of performance?
  • How – and why - does it differ from conventional ‘teaching’ and
    other forms of facilitation that are more structured and ‘deliberate’
    in their enactment? (see for example Boud & Miller, 1996) What
    factors deter more conventionally minded educators from adopting
    alternate modes of learning support?
  • What strategies best support educators wishing to adopt and sustain
    facilitation styles that engage the ‘whole person’ in preparation for
    living, learning and working?

5. Ching Kuei Chiang: Sustaining curriculum change through collaboration: an action research approach [read more]

Collaboration is a commonly used term; however, it has different
meanings for different people and for different contexts as is
evidenced by the variety of definitions that exist in a range of
literature across different disciplines. ...In this discussion it would be helpful to learn from other researchers about their experiences in facilitating collaboration.

6. Yoland Wadsworth: Action research for living systems [read more]

I will introduce the four sets of corresponding ideas that make up
this practice theory (viz. complex living systems,
epistemology-research methodology, and embodied: both
individually-psychologically and socially-‘corporately’. ...I then want to invite those interested to explore the implications
of this way of thinking about what we do (and questions arising) in
relation to their own experience. After some small café-style table
group discussions and reconvening to exchange insights and remaining
questions, slowly I hope the ‘mental architecture’ will be brought to
life, and its 'reach' sketched and 'tested' in the forum offered by the
Canberra meeting.

7. Dianne Allen: Can Practice Research inform Research Practice? [read more]

In my current inquiry, I am hoping to check in with other practitioners
about how they go about elements of practice-relevant research: How do
they use the literature? Are they aware of what evaluative criteria
they apply to the literature when deciding to attend to it, for their
practice improvement? How do they go about endeavouring to gather
valid information for the practice problem and the development of an
implementable solution, for themselves and/or for the clients they seek
to serve? What is it about the practitioner approach that is
distinctive? What is it about the practitioner approach that might
inform the practice of research?

8. Ross Colliver, Susan Moore, David Lucas: Changing frames in environmental governance: Action research with Landcare Networks [read more]

Environmental crisis is a crisis in how we govern our actions within
the ecosystems on which we depend. How can societies change their
governance? Network forms of governance create an innovating web of
relationships over nested hierarchies of public administration, dealing
with problems too complex for top-down, expert-informed decision making
(Ostrom 1990; Hajer and Wagenaar 2005). A critical question is how the
policy frames change. ... By entering problems with reflective capacity and activist intent,
networks can foster new frames. Does this prepare the ground for
progressively wider engagement with the dilemmas of current
arrangements and rehearse frame shifts that eventually manifest in the
rapid policy changes described as windows of opportunity. Is reframing
a pulse in social consciousness across networks of networks that can be
sensed (Senge et al. 2005), a competition between interests within
policy networks amenable to strategic intervention (Sabatier 1998; Van
Bueren, Klijn, and Koppenjan 2003), or a serendipitous and difficult to
predict moment of alignment between the worlds of policy, politics and
management for which calculated preparation is not possible (Kingdon

9. Robyn Lynn: Sustaining the whole person – cultivating awareness, inquiry and self-reflection within action learning [read more]

In this discussion it would be good to learn from others about the
forms of meditation that have assisted them in the inquiry process in
action learning, how they integrated it into the process and how it
benefited the process.

10. Michelle McLaren: Participation in Refugee and Migrant Settlement: An Action Learning Approach to the Development of a Settlement Service [read more]

In this discussion practical suggestions will be sought from conference
participants regarding the challenge of beginning and maintaining an
Action Learning process in the context of a busy settlement service
with a small and fluid staff. Strategies for ongoing engagement in the
Action Learning process of people from refugee and migrant backgrounds
who’s priorities are employment, development of language skills,
housing and education needs will be discussed with session participants.

11. Vicki Vaartjes: The case for action learning based development: Encouraging organisational clients to commit for the long haul [read more]

I would like to explore with other delegates the underlying principles
and approaches that they have found to be successful in encouraging
organisational clients to make longer term commitments to learning,
that include action learning, and that explicitly connect the
development with outcome generation.

12. Sarah Sutcliffe: VET Pedagogy: What does it mean in our amorphous VET environment? [read more]

I would also be very interested to discuss these questions with
conference participants, particularly under the ALARA Conference’s
theme of sustainability and the encroachment of economic rationalist
approaches on our educational institutions. The impact of user choice
in particular, and the business, dollar driven responses by public VET
providers, throws into question the very nature of VET pedagogy.
Indeed what does VET pedagogy mean in a VET environment where
institutes are driven by the needs of selling rather than learning, of
profit rather than education?

13. Winston Jacob: The Importance of Life Long Action Learning and its Success [read more]

Learning whilst working is a constraint. However, it is important to
discipline ones self to this new paradigm shift. Keeping to deadlines
of assignment submissions sometimes poses problems. ...In this discussion it would be good to hear from other facilitators
about their repertoire of practice and from students the difficulties
they encounter with writing up their assignments.

14. Jacques Boulet: Reflective - Catalytic – Pro-voca-tive thought-fragments around (P–A–Research) ways-of-relating [read more]

The question is: has modern-day PAR – as it re-emerged in the wake of
the obvious bankruptcy of utilitarian research practice and its
associated ‘theorising’ in the social sciences regained a proper sense
of ‘relating’ as the ‘rock-bottom’ upon which participatory
‘knowledge-in-action’ can be generated?

15. Jane Fisher: Older people co-creating our sustainable future [read more]

I want to learn from others about the co-learning that I and my staff
can do with older people as I would like to feel much more that I am in
a place of co-developing policy. How do I work within formal
structures of governance to create the space in which older people
speak, hear and are heard? And/or how do I shift the reality of the organisational structure towards a place in which older people speak, hear and are heard?

16. Gabriela Shuster: Participatory methods for planning research and resource management [read more]

In this discussion it would be valuable to explore how others approach
organising multiple stakeholder groups, the processes they use for
encouraging participation throughout the research process and
strategies for bridging the communication gaps between researchers,
resource managers, and other stakeholder groups.


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