Social and Cultural Studies of Education Emphasis, Ph.D.

The School of Education and Division of Teaching, Learning, Leadership and Policy (TLLP) offers a Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in Social and Cultural Studies of Education (SCS). As faculty in Social and Cultural Studies of Education, our commitments are guided by the following questions:

  • What ethical and philosophical commitments should inform schooling?
  • How have our histories and contexts shaped learning in and out of schools?
  • What types of inequities persist in schools, and why? What should we do about them? In particular, how do we close the opportunity gaps in the lives of minoritized student populations?
  • How are people (e.g., teachers, activists, students, parents) resisting and fighting for equitable educational outcomes? 

Distinguishing features of SCS are its attention to the past as a powerful influence on the present, and its deconstruction of knowledge, identity, and power dynamics as central to the work of reimagining schools and society for a socially just future. As a land grant university, Iowa State University is uniquely positioned to use its resources to be in service to and in partnership with communities. We therefore are invested in research that not only advances scholarly understanding of the pressing educational issues of our moment, but how we also work toward enacting transformative change. For examples of our scholarship in action, check out the following community-engaged projects from SCS faculty: 

Our collective commitments are driven by intellectual curiosities informed by our identities and experiences. SCS prides itself for its interdisciplinary nature, allowing students to apply a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches in their scholarly inquiry.​ Faculty expertise includes critical approaches in the following areas:  

  • Anti-Oppressive Histories
  • Autoethnography & Critical Ethnography
  • Civic & Citizenship Education 
  • Content Analysis
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Critical Whiteness
  • Culturally Relevant & Sustaining Pedagogy / Critical Pedagogies
  • Curriculum Development & Theory
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Diverse Children’s & YA Literature  
  • Latinx Students & Teachers 
  • Multiculturalism & Multilingualism 
  • Political Theory
  • Philosophy of Education
  • Science Education
  • Student Identity & Belonging
  • Teacher Education and Professional Development
  • University-School-Community Partnerships
  • Education in Demographically Transitioning Schools & Communities
  • Youth Activism


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