From the 2020 NCFR Conference Program Chair

Brad van Eeden-Moorefield, Ph.D., CFLE, Montclair State University

Thank you to the members of the 2020 Conference Program Committee


2020 Sustainable Conference Goals

To better understand the dynamic and fluid nature of families for this new decade, we will use dialogue, engagement, and presentations of scholarship to articulate a set of inclusive

  1. research priorities,
  2. evidence-supported practices,
  3. policy priorities, and
  4. educational/pedagogical priorities.


2020 NCFR Annual Conference Theme

Family Expansions, Expanding Families: Contouring Family Science’s Negative Spaces

The 2020 NCFR conference theme is rich with meaning, with a broad goal of using engagement with each other to better understand the dynamic nature of family life in ways that are inclusive, innovative, and waiting to be discovered. The theme places a particular emphasis on taking time to reflect and look for elements of family life that not only are present or emerging, but also those that become visible with the use of a new or yet to be discovered perspective or vantage point.

Family Expansions reflects the idea of our growing knowledge across the Family Sciences, partially as demonstrated by the recent closing of one decade of progress and the moving into a new decade. The use of family expansions also is a nod to the Gateway Arch of St. Louis, built as a symbol of the westward expansion—a time of growth and advancement that, certainly, came with many challenges and controversies.

Expanding Families reflects NCFR’s commitment to inclusion and diversity, and is intended to acknowledge families as dynamic, fluid, and diverse in forms and functions.

Contouring Family Science’s Negative Spaces suggests the need to be grounded in our historical and contemporary knowledge about the everyday experiences of families, but also engage a critical reflection that affords us opportunities to step back and ask unimaginable questions needed to drive the discipline forward. More simply, the theme suggests engaging the past, present, and future of all families. This also is a nod to the 1979 NCFR conference theme “Everyday Life in Families: Past, Present, and Future”, and accordingly, the 79 neighborhoods that make up our conference location, St. Louis.

As stated at the beginning, our theme is truly rich with meaning and I am confident you will find the same richness and meaning at this year’s conference!

Special Note on New Opportunities and Formats

One of the conference hopes is to create more opportunities for engagement within sessions rather than focusing mostly on presenting. It is through engaging multiple perspectives and vantage points that we can begin to make a yet unimagined discovery or practice possible, which is a second hope for the conference.

For proposals, it is important to demonstrate the potential of the scholarship’s contributions in innovating the future. For presenters, this should become part of the presentation dialogue across presenters as well as the audience. Because realizing these hopes require more time devoted to dialogue in sessions, we suggest authors focus most on the quality (e.g., methods used, limitations) and contributions (e.g., findings and how they add to the field) of their work when presenting. We added more time for facilitated group dialogue and interaction to a new interactive paper session format and to traditional paper sessions.

We also added a new workshop format to help achieve our hopes. These workshops should focus on the co-creation of new knowledge and skills in real time. Examples include: developing or demonstrating novel research methods, processes, or analysis strategies; theory development; conceptualizing emerging or novel phenomenon; developing or demonstrating novel clinical, programmatic, or education practices; leadership skills; community engagement; and ways to adapt or improve the inclusiveness of any of the above.

Instructions for the new session formats are provided in this call for proposals. The online proposal system will open in late January 2020.

I will be elaborating more on the conference theme in a series of videos that I will share over the next few weeks. You can view these videos in the playlist below or watch on YouTube.