My Story

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

My work examines K-12 social studies curriculum within Indigenous contexts, as well as race and settler colonialism in K-12 social studies teacher education, popular media, and qualitative 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 friends 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 have several single- and multi-author book chapters and co-edited (Re)Imagining Elementary Social Studies: A Controversial Issues Reader (Information Age Press, 2018). My co-edited text, Marking the Invisible: Articulating Whiteness in Social Studies Education, is forthcoming from Information Age Press in 2019. I have presented my solo and collaborative work at 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, Teaching Tolerance, Huffington Post, and several other media outlets. I am a featured speaker at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. and am currently the Book/Media Review Editor at the Journal of Social Studies Research. I serve on the Social Studies and the Young Learner Editorial Board, CUFA Executive Board, and NCSS Publications Committee. I am also a founding member of the Elementary Social Studies Education Summit and the forthcoming journal The Critical Social Educator.

My Commitments

All education takes place on Indigenous lands. 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.

“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)