Leigh Patel, professor in the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, has been elected to the National Academy of Education (NAEd), an honorific society of scholars and educators who make outstanding contributions to the education field. She is one of 17 new members elected this year from around the United States.
“This is a significant honor that means a great deal to me,” says Patel. “There are a number of Black, Indigenous, migrant, and decolonial women in the Academy doing quality research that impacts the possible futures of Black and Brown children. Their work has deeply influenced me, and it’s an honor to be in the same group.”
Following her membership announcement, Patel received congratulatory messages from junior scholars and graduate students. The news gave them hope for achieving the same distinction in the future.
She noted: “If it helps to shift power and resonates for people who might not otherwise see this as a possibility for themselves, that’s what matters.”
As a member of NAEd, Patel will serve on expert study panels that address pressing issues in education and be involved as a mentor for the organization’s professional development fellowship programs.
Patel, who joined PittEducation in 2018, is a transdisciplinary scholar who studies the narratives that shape how people are treated in society. She is an internationally known scholar of education, ethnic studies, critical higher education studies, and literacy.
One of her current projects—in collaboration with PittEd Justice Collective facilitator Anneliese Martinez and predoctoral fellow Ogechi Irondi—is to create an oral history of parent and caregiver experiences when schools shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The overarching themes of my research include the ways that schools have been one of the most efficient delivery systems of inequity in our society, while knowing that, at the same time, education holds the promise of potential for liberation,” says Patel. “I have always had an interest in supporting youth to create their own knowledge so that they can understand themselves outside of the ways that they are spoken about.”
Leigh Patel is a professor of learning sciences and policy in the Pitt School of Education’s Department of Educational Foundations, Organizations, and Policy. The programs are now accepting applications.