Close Menu


Leadership in Social Justice and Diversity

Our faculty members are leading many research projects related to diversity and social justice topics. Selected projects include:

Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline: The Role of School Superintendents
Rachel Roegman
Recipient of 2016 Kinley Award

What do superintendents believe about youth and incarceration, and what types of activities might impact their beliefs, knowledge, and practices to create school systems that actively engage all youth, especially Black and Latino boys, in schooling? This study investigates the experiences of a group of superintendents who engage in a series of professional development activities aimed at increasing their awareness and impacting their district leadership to better retain all youth in schools. Investigating the impacts of this professional development series offers the potential to serve as the foundation for a more expansive series of professional development activities for a broad range of school leaders. As more school leaders learn about patterns of youth incarceration and develop initiatives to halt the pipeline, more youth will be educated in schools, not prisons, and have the greater likelihood to develop their full potential.

Inequality and student achievement in mathematics, reading, and science
Ming Ming Chiu

Ming Ming Chiu explored why students in many wealthy countries, like the United States, have lower mathematics test scores than students from poorer countries and found that inequality is part of the answer. To see a video of Ming talking about his research, click here.


Rethinking Multicultural Education for the Next Generation: The New Empathy and Social Justice
Nadine Dolby

In this book, faculty member Nadine Dolby uses concepts from neuroscience and animal science to provide a new approach to multicultural education based on empathy, reaching future teachers with a message of social justice, equality and equity.

Dolby said, “A science teacher must know science; a math teacher must be passionate about math. But there is something beyond content: our students’ attitudes and behaviors will shape the future of our country and the planet, and indelibly mark the futures of all of our children. All of our teachers must understand who they are, who the children in their classroom are, the fundamentals about the world they live in, and the possibilities for contributing in positive ways that exist for all of us every day.”

Attitudinal change and learning for social issues related to social justice and diversity
Sunnie Lee Watson

Sunnie Lee Watson is exploring educational courses with thousands (or tens of thousands) of enrollees, also known as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Her research focuses on these courses can be designed and used to change learner attitudes at scale. She has studied MOOCs regarding topics related to social justice, such as human trafficking, animal behavior and welfare, journalism activism and the psychology of happiness.

Teaching Lit in Secondary School Book

A Case for Teaching Literature in the Secondary School: Why Reading Fiction Matters in an Age of Scientific Objectivity and Standardization
Janet Alsup

In this book, Professor Janet Alsup explores how vicarious experience with narrative worlds can have positive effects on readers, including the development of empathy and understandings of transformative pro-social action. Through critical analysis of educational and epistemological trends, recent research in cognitive literary studies demonstrating the power of narrative reading on identity, and her own research on fictional reading and empathy building in middle school, this book is a sustained argument for the continued inclusion of literary study in our secondary schools to deepen adolescents’ understandings of themselves and others. Read more about this book.

Project RESET: Refugee Youth Engaging in Critical STEM Literacy and Learning
Minjung Ryu

Minjung Ryu runs an after school project that engages resettled Burmese refugee youth in STEM learning activities. The after school program is to advance the youth’s knowledge about weather and climate change, English competence, and critical STEM literacy. The youth participants in the program learn, talk, and present about weather and climate change and make digital stories about climate change to communicate with broader audiences. Through the project, Dr. Ryu and her team strive to build on the youth’s strengths and empower them as agents who know about science and make changes to the world around them.

Designing learning technologies for personalized paradigm education
Bill Watson

Bill Watson argues that our current time-driven systems of education are designed so that not all students will succeed – by holding time to learn constant, they force variations in learning, leaving many students behind. An educational system focused on each student learning rather than the sorting of students into successful and unsuccessful learner must support personalized learning. He researches how to change educational systems to personalized approaches and how technology can support this transformation. See a video of Bill talking about the personalized paradigm.