North Dakota Study Group Annual Meeting
February 13 - 16, 2014
How the Meetings Work
In the early years, Vito Perrone organized the meetings and they took basic shape under his leadership -- arising out of his choices of who to bring together and the opening talk he gave each year. In the last several years, the group has generated the planning. Vito was the Dean of the School of Education at the University of North Dakota, where it first met. Hence the name.
The group meets annually, every President's Day weekend. In 2009, the NDSG met for the first time at the University of St. Mary on the Lake, in Mundelein, IL, just north of Chicago.
The tone is serious, intense -- we often address a particular text or question -- and yet informal. The network of friendships and professional connections is strong and growing stronger each year for those who attend regularly. Through the years many participants have collaborated on work outside NDSG, and many have built lasting friendships and working partnerships. During the conference home groups welcome and create a place for newcomers, often, young teachers.
The meetings began in the early 70's with about a handful of attendees, then grew to about 30 when the group met at Wingspread in Wisconsin. Now, well over 100 people attend. Not only the size changed, but the composition of the group. Classroom teachers were few until the early 80's, when invited teacher panels became a feature each year. Until the early 80's, the group was primarily White. The group challenges itself with continued efforts to deepen understanding of race and ethnicity and to solidify the connections with attendees of color. Those who participate currently include new teachers, veteran teachers, university professors, community activists, independent scholars, undergraduates, deans, foundation program officers, and principals. Shared rooms (optional) and cafeteria-style meals add to the experience of informal mixing.
Planning and logistics for each year’s meeting is done entirely by a committee of volunteers. In mid-summer, at the Buxton School in Williamstown, MA, the committee reviews the previous meeting and plans the next conference. The summer meeting is open to anyone who wants to attend who has participated in past general NDSG meetings. Those August plans are refined over e-mail right up until the February meeting, often shifting to accommodate last minute changes and new opportunities. Three co-chairs, who revolve through three-year terms, lead this work. A 'nitty-gritty' committee works to ensure the logistical details including the website and online registration system, while other volunteers work on the scholarships we provide to enhance diversity and other conference needs.