Faculty Highlights


Natasha Levinson
Dr. Levinson's work has begun to focus on the challenges of religious pluralism. She has been looking at how religious exclusivists understand the demands of religious pluralism and how they are trying to meet these demands on their own terms, i.e. from within their own theological traditions. Exclusivists are those who regard other religious traditions as wrong or misguided, and thus find it hard to accord them the respect that comes more easily to religious inclusivists. She is particularly interested in the steps that religious intellectuals within these traditions are taking to promote tolerance - and a degree of acceptance of different faith traditions - amongst their fellow believers. And of course, she is interested in how these steps are reflected in the ethos, teacher dispositions and curriculum of school in these traditions.

Her sabbatical project explored the ways in which exclusivist evangelical Christians are tackling the challenges of religious pluralism. She presented papers on this research at the annual meeting of the Philosophy of Education Society, the American Educational Studies Association Conference, and to graduate students in the Philosophy and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia. She is fortunate to be working with several PhD students in the Cultural Foundations Program who are writing dissertations on this topic: Henrique Alvim Living Christianly Among 'Strangers': The Educational, Civic and Theological Practice of 'Being the Church' in the Post-Secular American Academy, Lutheran Education in a Religiously Pluralistic Society, and Ruth Joy on Catholic schooling for participation in a democracy.


Dr. Tricia Niesz
Dr. Niesz uses anthropological methods and theories to investigate cultural change in the field of education. She is particularly interested in educators’ participation in social movements promoting equity and social justice, and how these movements generate knowledge, learning, identities, and school change. In her current project, she is exploring how education activists produce and circulate knowledge in their struggles for education change and education justice. Proliferating research on educator activism documents educators’ strong critiques of trends in the contemporary education policy context that negatively impact their schools and profession. Yet, researchers have yet to provide an explicit, nuanced analysis of how education activists generate the knowledge that informs their activism and how such knowledge travels beyond the group, into spheres of power and influence. 

To address these gaps, Dr. Niesz is conducting an ethnographic comparative case study to explore how knowledge is generated through Ohio education activists’ advocacy for state education policy change. Through interviews with activists, the collection and analysis of social media, and participation in campaigns for education justice, she is investigating how and what knowledge is produced to guide activism, as well as how, where, and to what effect this knowledge circulates within and beyond Ohio’s education advocacy networks. Dr. Niesz’s recent work has been published in Critical Education, Anthropology & Education Quarterly, and Teachers College Record.