I am an Associate Professor of Social Studies and Multicultural Education at the University of Washington-Bothell. I earned my doctorate in Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum with concentrations in social studies education and Indigenous Studies at the University of Missouri in 2014.

My work examines racism and settler colonialism in K-12 social studies curriculum, teacher education, popular media, and qualitative research methodologies. As a member of the Turtle Island Social Studies Collective, I am committed to collective action to combat oppression in education and academia. My colleagues and I are published in Theory and Research in Social Education, Journal of Social Studies Research, Knowledge Cultures, Social Studies and the Young Learner, and Qualitative Inquiry. In addition, I co-edited (Re)Imagining Elementary Social Studies: A Controversial Issues Reader (Information Age Press, 2018), Marking the Invisible: Articulating Whiteness in Social Studies Education (Information Age Press, 2020), and Insurgent Social Studies: Scholar-Educators Disrupting Erasure & Marginality (Myers Education Press, 2022).

My colleagues and I present our collaborative work at several conferences, including the annual meetings of the College and University Faculty Assembly of the National Council for the Social Studies (CUFA-NCSS), American Educational Research Association (AERA), International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry (ICQI), National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME), and Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA). These efforts have also been featured by Zinn Project, Learning for Justice, Huffington Post, and several other media outlets. It is an honor to have been a featured speaker at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

“This story of our effort addresses the impossible positions we must put in as educators, positions we must face, no matter how meaningless our efforts may feel at times…We must dare to dream and struggle anyway.”

Dr. Leilani Sabzalian (Alutiiq)

All education takes place on Indigenous lands. The University of Washington-Bothell, as well as the UW Seattle and Tacoma campuses, and our partner schools are built on the lands and waters of the Coastal Salish nations who have called these spaces home since time immemorial. I acknowledge the need for social studies education, and indeed all education, to teach in ways that affirm and sustain the many identities of students and teachers in- and outside our classroom communities. As a non-Indigenous teacher educator-activist-scholar, I follow Dr. Bettina Love’s call to be a “co-conspirator” and Quechua scholar Dr. Sandy Grande’s call to “commit to collectivity” to work alongside fellow educators and communities to bring needed changes in K-12 education and teacher education.

When not at work, I enjoy hiking with the best pups in the world! Nico and Odin are American Pit Bull/American Staffordshire Terrier litter brothers who, when not sniffing every blade of grass at the park, love cookies, squeaky toys, and taking naps on their fuzzy blankets.