Decentring the Human in Qualitative Research Methodologies Seminar Series

Hosted by the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Qualitative Research Methodologies Special Interest Group Convenors:

This free seminar series consists of six 1-hour online seminars via Zoom on the topic of decentring the human in qualitative research methodologies. Each seminar features a presentation by a guest speaker who has experience with decentring the human in the context of qualitative research methodologies in educational research. Each seminar will also be followed by a debriefing session (see below for information).

The seminar series is inspired by Kuby and Bozalek’s (2023) webinar series that aspired to create an international online learning community that was inclusive of a range of scholars, including early career scholars and doctoral students. Importantly, for us, social learning is front and centre of this seminar series. Our main concern is not on transmitting knowledge from someone who already knows about decentring the human to someone who doesn’t. Instead, we want to work together to create a synergy that generates insights and ideas that we would not have had on our own.  Our ethical stance is one that values diversity and dialogic respect, and everyone is welcome regardless of where they are in their journey towards understanding decentring the human. We are eager to hear how your research concerning this topic has evolved; and is evolving – including the complexity, challenges and uncertainty involved.


The key prompt that will guide the seminar series is: Exploring the challenges and opportunities of decentring the human in qualitative research methodologies employed in educational research. Guest speakers and participants will be encouraged to engage with this prompt in diverse ways, including exploring the challenges and opportunities that decentring the human creates for educational researchers, for those who work with children in educational settings, and for those who support teachers in their work (e.g., those involved in developing policy and legislation, and those in leadership roles).

Each guest speaker will discuss some/or all of the following:

  1. What is decentring the human to you?
  2. What does decentring the human look like in your research?
  3. What are the ethical consequences if the human is no longer privileged in educational research?
  4. What do you see as the challenges and opportunities that decentring the human in educational research creates for:

a. Qualitative research methodologies?

b. Children in educational settings?

c. Those who work with children in educational settings?

d. Those in leadership roles in educational settings?

e. Educational policy and legislation?

Guest speakers may also suggest several readings for seminar attendees to read prior to the seminar, although these are not compulsory reading. These readings will be made available via this webpage for early access and for those who may not be able to attend.


  • Seminars are scheduled monthly and are dependent upon presenters’ availability. Once confirmed, the exact dates and times will be available on this website.
  • Seminars are 1 hour duration including time for questions and discussion from attendees.
  • Registration links for each seminar will added to the webpage throughout the year.
  • With permission from the guest speakers, the seminars will be recorded for those who are unable to attend at the scheduled time and the recording links will be made available on this webpage (AARE members only).

Each seminar will be followed by an online debriefing session the following week. This debriefing session will provide seminar participants with time to discuss the suggested readings, and to share any thoughts and questions that were stimulated by the seminar presentation. The debriefing sessions will employ a range of activities that enable participants to work together to unpack and explore topics and concepts arising from the seminars (e.g., Zoom annotations and breakout rooms).  Everyone who attends the seminar is welcome to attend the debriefing session, but the debriefing sessions may be especially relevant for early career researchers and higher degree research students. The debriefing sessions will NOT be recorded.


If you have any questions about the seminar series, including how to register, and/or need help with accessing the suggested readings, please email Sheena at or Keith at 


Kuby, C. R., & Bozalek, V. (2023). Post philosophies and the doing of inquiry: Webinars and webing sessions become a special issue(s). Qualitative Inquiry, 29(1), 3-6. 

Invited Guest Speakers, Suggested Readings and De-briefing Sessions

Seminar 1 (will be recorded)

Thursday 21st March 2024

Associate Professor Luke Bennett

7.30pm – 8.30pm AEDT (Australian Eastern Daylight Time) UTC/GMT +11 hours

Associate Professor, Department of the Natural & Built Environment Sheffield Hallam University, UK //



Reflections on ‘Thinking like a brick: Posthumanism and building materials’


In my essay contribution to Carol A. Taylor & Christina Hughes’ 2016 edited collection Posthuman Research Practices in Education (Palgrave) I set out to answer the question “How can we know of bricks, blocks and slabs in a posthuman way?” But the process of writing, and responding to that question, led me increasing to an ambivalent position, at least as regards the limits of posthumanism within education. Ultimately, I ended up having to distinguish between a ‘weak’ and a ‘strong’ posthumanism and concluded that only a ‘weak’ (and ‘thing-for-us’ rather than ‘thing-in-itself’) position was possible. My essay ended up a playful (but sincere) foray:  drawing together the theoretical abstractions of transhumanism, object oriented ontology and material culture studies and setting them to work alongside prosaic encounters with building materials (to see what would happen in that encounter). In this session I will share my candid insights into that authorial journey, in doing so disassembling the integrity of my presented text and highlighting some of the ‘paths not taken’, and some of the roadblocks that I stumbled upon along the way, and how I struggled to deal with them. This deconstruction will ultimately deliver upon a positive motive: it will point to pragmatic ways in which a greater attentiveness to our relationships with things is needed and is – through a more openminded (and playful) pedagogy – possible. In doing so it will achieve my essay’s additional aim to “examine how we learn about, and pass on, the materiality of the world around us” – and why that “matters” (in the dual sense attributed to that word by Karen Barad in Meeting the Universe Halfway (2007, Duke University Press).

Brief Biography

Luke Bennett is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of the Natural & Built Environment at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. After a 17 year career as an environmental lawyer, Luke stepped into academia in 2007 to teach law to built environment students. Along the way he gained a PhD by publication (his published outputs being summated under the title ‘Interpretive Communities at work and play in the built environment’). Treating the materiality of the built environment as a negotiated text, across various field studies Luke looked at how – collectively – groups of professionals and lay-actors frame their relationships with places and the matter which composed them (variously urban trees, gravestones, ruined buildings, copper cables) using acquired cultural codings, like liability for accidents and hobby practices. Luke has continued to examine these themes through, academic publications (details here), his leadership of Sheffield Hallam University’s interdisciplinary ‘Space & Place Group’ (whose session recordings are here) and his bloggings about his investigations and ruminations here.



Suggested reading:

Bennett, L. (2016). Thinking like a brick: posthumanism and building materials. In Taylor, C., & Hughes, C. (Eds.) Posthuman Research Practices in Education. (pp. 58-74). Palgrave Macmillian:

Debriefing Session for Seminar 1 (will not be recorded)

Wednesday 27th March 2024

7.00pm – 8.00pm AEDT (Australian Eastern Daylight Time) UTC/GMT +11 hours

Zoom link


Seminar 2 (will be recorded)

Thursday 18th April 2024

Dr Natalie Thompson

7.00pm – 8.00pm AEST UTC/GMT +10 hours

Lecturer in Literacies & Inclusive Education, School of Education, Charles Sturt University, Australia


Decentering the human in literacies research


I began playing with the idea of decentring the human during my doctoral studies as a way of unsettling the taken-for-granted frameworks through which literacies education is usually understood. I was particularly interested in examining how educational research that positions the human at the centre of analysis, might not sufficiently account for the complex, changing, and unpredictable nature of learning within educational settings, as well as the influence of algorithms and artificial intelligence on children’s experiences with literacies. Decentring the human allowed me to challenge the idea that the human is the central point in which agency in literacies originates, and it provided a way of thinking and writing about agency as being distributed between different entities that are discursive, as well as material—human and not. In this presentation I draw on my doctoral research to make two arguments: (1) that decentring the human offers a way of understanding literacies, commonly understood through either a skills or social practice discourse, more fully and in more complex ways; and (2) that decentring the human, particularly within children’s entanglements with emerging technologies in literacy education, disrupts definitions of human in productive ways. I will illustrate these arguments with examples from my research and demonstrate that fixed definitions of what it means to be a literate human are flawed and potentially contribute to the ongoing production of inequality in literacies education.

Brief Biography

Natalie Thompson is a Lecturer in Education in the Faculty of Arts & Education at Charles Sturt University, Albury/Wodonga, Australia. Her teaching and research interests lie in the areas of literacies, inclusive education, and critical pedagogies. She is currently researching and writing about inclusive writing pedagogies, sociomaterial accounts of literacies and the changing nature of teacher education, amid complex and competing educational quandaries



Suggested reading:

Burnett, C., & Merchant, G. (2018). Literacy-as-event: accounting for relationality in literacy research. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education(April), 1-12.

Debriefing Session for Seminar 2 (will not be recorded)

Wednesday 24th April 2024

7.00pm – 8.00pm AEST UTC/GMT +10 hours

Zoom link 


Seminar 3 (will be recorded)

Thursday 16th May 2024

7.00pm – 8.00pm AEST UTC/GMT +10 hours

Dr Gen Blades



Cae Rodrigues

Instagram: @cae.rodrigues

Decentring the human in environmental education research and practice


My initial encounter with the notion of decentring the human occurred during my PhD study on ‘Walking Practices with/in Nature(s) as Ecopedagogy in Outdoor Environmental Education’. The starting point of this encounter was not from a theoretical standpoint but from my research problem of how to grapple with meanings made whilst walking with/in nature. The method I employed in this study involved empirical 'scoping' of material, aesthetic and embodied dimensions of walking that were inductively identified and abductively assembled as descriptive interpretations of walking with/in scapes of nature. This methodological encounter highlights the embodied dilemma of decentring the centred subject, be it self and/or nature’s environments ‘moved’ in.

Yet it was this embodied dilemma that became a way of unsettling some of the dominant logics of practice evident in outdoor environmental education. In the case of walking, the pervading hegemonic masculinity and an instrumentalised outdoor industry defined by credentials dominate. Nature gets lost in the commodified ‘bush’ of bushwalking. A key purpose of this study was to bring nature back to the ‘centre’ as an ecopedagogy, whilst acknowledging the current precarious status of nature in this epoch of the Anthropocene.

In this session I will share my embodied experiences and how these were accessed and represented to offer a (re)construction of decentring as it is known and applied in postqualitative research, drawing examples primarily from my PhD study. Demonstrated as a process of decentring, I will outline the layers of inquiry revealed methodologically as wayfinding that include agency, culture, and ecologising of self. In other words, a process of eco-becoming. Possibilities of a decentred/relational assemblage will be highlighted as well as the limitations and challenges found along the ‘way’. Recent discourse on (critical) environmental education and the ontological turn to ‘post’ concerns including the human (see Rodrigues, C., (2020) Introduction: “New” theory, “post” North-South representations, praxis. The Journal of Environmental Education, 51 (2), 97 – 112. raise important questions for environmental education research to respond to. I will conclude with how my study contributes to the role of human/bodied esthetics and environmental/ecological esthetics in the framing of the research problem and more broadly, the methodological deliberations of environmental ethics and ecopolitics.

Brief Biography

Gen Blades is currently an independent scholar living on Dja Dja Wurrung Country, Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia. She has been involved in outdoor and environmental education in schools and the tertiary sector, the past fifteen years lecturing at La Trobe University. Her areas of interest, both research and teaching, include environmental values and ethics, environmental eco-pedagogies and sustainability education.

Cae Rodrigues is a Professor and researcher at the Faculty of Physical Education and at the Graduate Program in Development and Environment-PRODEMA (Masters and PhD Programs) of the Federal University of Sergipe, Brazil. His PhD in Education from the Federal University of São Carlos (Brazil), and partly undertaken at Monash University (Australia), aimed on a better understanding of the synergies between human motricity (phenomenology of movement) and environmental education focusing on the environmentalization (or greening) of the physical education curriculum in higher education settings. From this research he developed the conceptual, methodological, and ecopedagogical scopes of ecomotricity, largely focused on decentering the human in environmental education research and practice. Cae has been hosted as an Honorary Visiting Researcher at La Trobe University (Australia, 2018), at the University of the Sunshine Coast (Australia, 2019), and at the University of Lille (France, 2023). He is currently the Editor of Special Editions for The Journal of Environmental Education.


Suggested reading

James, P. (2017). Alternative paradigms for sustainability: Decentring the human without being posthuman. In K. Malone, S. Truong & T. Gray (Eds.), Reimagining sustainability in precarious times (pp. 29-44). Singapore: Springer.  

Debriefing Session for Seminar 3 (will not be recorded)

Thursday 23rd May 2024

7.00pm – 8.00pm AEST UTC/GMT +10 hours

Zoom link