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William F. Connell School of Nursing

Knowledge Conference

history of new england knowledge conferences

Boston University School of Nursing, 1984–1987

In 1984, Boston University initiated a series called the Annual Nursing Science Colloquia. These colloquia were developed by doctoral students from the graduate program at the School of Nursing in collaboration with faculty. Conferences focused on strategies for theory development and included presentations by nursing leaders such as Margaret Hardy, Ada Sue Hinshaw, Afaf Meleis, Glenys Hamilton, Shake Ketefian, Hesook Suzie Kim, Jean Johnson, Donna Swartz-Barcott, and Jeanie Quint Benoliel. The first colloquia focused on modes of inquiry to develop theory and inductive and qualitative strategies used to develop and test knowledge. These strategies were further explored at subsequent conferences with specific attention to concept formation and theory testing. The colloquia started at Boston University were noteworthy for two reasons; first, they served as a forum to discuss the development of knowledge for nursing science; and second, they created an opportunity for doctoral students to be mentored into the discipline and associate with leaders in the field.



University of Rhode Island College of Nursing, 1990–1994

The University of Rhode Island made the decision in 1990 to continue with the well-received conferences at Boston University and to run a series of five symposia devoted to knowledge development in nursing. The emphasis of these symposia was on the interconnectedness among philosophy, theory, research, and practice and the influence on the development of nursing knowledge. The first symposium examined the linkages among philosophy, theory, methods of inquiry, and practice. The second addressed the conceptualization and philosophy of nursing practice within the philosophies of realism, interpretivism, humanism, and praxis. The focus of the third symposium was on the nature of nursing practice theories and their relationship to research and practice, and the fourth symposium emphasized pluralism in theories and its influence on the application of theory into practice. The final symposium examined domain, theory, substantive area, and method primacy as paths to synthesize knowledge for nursing in the face of pluralism. Throughout the series, speakers included Susan Gortner, Frederick Suppe, Robert Putnam, Margaret Newman, Marilyn Rawnsley, David Allen, Nancy Fulgate Woods, Sr. Callista Roy, Hesook Suzie Kim, John Phillips, Lorraine Walker, Sue Donaldson, and Nancy Dluhy.



Boston College School of Nursing, 1996–1998

(with Eastern Nursing Research Society and Sigma Theta Tau, Alpha Chi Chapter)

The theme of these conferences hosted by Boston College in the later 1990s focused on the impact of nursing knowledge and began by exploring linkages of philosophy, theory, and research as the basis for outcomes for practice. At the first of the series, main speakers, Beth Rodgers, Margaret Newman, and Sr. Callista Roy, explored three perspectives: problem solving, process, and cosmic imperative. Panels of specialists addressed implications of the perspectives for nursing language, clinical reasoning, and health policy. For the second of the series, a case analysis approach was used to link nursing knowledge to practice outcomes from three philosophical perspectives. Betty Lenz used a postpositivistic problem-solving perspective to analyze the case about end-of-life decisions and Jacqueline Fortin acted as respondent. Patricia Winstead-Fry approached the case from the perspective of knowledge as process and Sarah Jo Brown was the respondent. Janice Thompson provided a poststructuralist feminist analysis and Peggy Chinn responded. Other main contributors were Lorraine Walker as keynote and Dorothy Jones who spoke on an integrated perspective of nursing knowledge and outcomes for the closing address. The spirit of participant involvement and dialogue, established at the earlier series, was maintained in this series, culminating in an entirely participatory conference in 1998. The aim was to build on the work of nurse scholars and their perspectives on developments within nursing science. Consensus builders, Janice Brencick, Glenn Webster, Peggy Chinn, Dorothy Hones, Hesook Suzie Kim, Margaret Newman, Beth Rodgers, Sr. Callista Roy, and Janice Thompson, were provided for each table of participants. After a day and a half of dialogue, in both small and large groups, the outline of a value-based position paper linking nursing knowledge and practice outcomes was generated. The paper addressed the ontology of person and of nursing, nursing theory, and nursing practice and was offered as a guide to future knowledge development for nursing education, practice, and research. This position paper was then placed on the World Wide Web to become the stimulus for a larger international conference.



Boston Circle for Emerging Nursing Knowledge, Boston College School of Nursing

(in collaboration with Sigma Theta Tau International, Alpha Chi Chapter; School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Dublin, Ireland; and Institute of Nursing Science, University of Oslo, Norway, 2000)

For Emerging Nursing Knowledge 2000, planners from eight countries (Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom, and the United States) created a program to expand the dialogue on the emerging perspectives of nursing knowledge to a global arena and to link the focused view of nursing knowledge derived in the 1998 consensus paper to effective practice outcomes. Peggy Chinn presented a challenging keynote and scholars from seven other countries addressed issues from the consensus paper from the richness of their cultural and ethnic diversity. For the first time in the Knowledge Conference series, concurrent and poster sessions were used to highlight efforts to create an impact on quality of health care, particularly for women, vulnerable populations, elders, infants, and children. Throughout the conference, dialogue among participants from 15 countries sought to address global health issues and discuss knowledge and collaborative research needed to create an impact on practice outcomes. The co-chairs summarized the conference as follows: “The clear message from participants is that there must be linguistic and semantic clarity in our language for nurses to communicate the knowledge of the discipline globally,” said Dorothy Jones. Sr. Callista Roy added, “It is rare that every paper at a conference is excellent and that participants so totally immerse themselves in the process of dialogue.”



Boston Circle for Emerging Nursing Knowledge, Boston College Connell School of Nursing, 2001

The final conference of the series aimed to expand discussion of philosophical perspectives and to explore further links of given perspectives to change in practice. Pamela Reed gave the keynote address; Hesook Suzie Kim presented on critical narrative epistemology, Betty Lenz on middle range theory, Dorothy Jones on process knowledge and integration in practice, and Sr. Callista Roy on knowledge development from a cosmic imperative as it affects health systems. A panel of reactors to each of the four perspectives provided exemplars of links to practice. Posters on practice applications of knowledge were presented. It is noteworthy that the conference was held in Boston, MA, within 6 weeks of the defining event of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Yet conference participants were a focused and dedicated group of scholars who were all the more intent on finding ways to make a difference in our changing world. No speaker cancelled from the program and the number of participants equaled the number at conferences earlier in the series. The dialogue was rich and the energy stimulated the immediate goal of developing a book on knowledge development and practice and the long-range plan of another series of Knowledge Development Conferences.