Maureen Porter - Publications


Porter, M.K., Frieters-Reerman, N., Langley, S., Dawkins, S., & Reerman, A. (2020). Mobilising shared strengths for collective peacebuilding with newcomers. Journal of Transdisciplinary Peace Praxis (2) 1 Pp. 19-23

This multi-authored article is the result of five years of collaboration that I have nurtured between Pitt and the Katholische Hochschule für Sozial Arbeit in Germany. The content fo rthis piece was further refined through my scholarly paper, "Cultural strengths as compensatory frames and entry points in addressing violence against newcomers." It was developed as part of our panel, "Challenges of glocalisation in the context of social work, health sciences, and practical theology: Focus on migration and integration." at the September 2019 Social Glocalisation Conference at the Katholische Hochschule für Sozial Arbeit in Cologne, Germany. This is part of the third special issue on the constraints and challenges of peace education and praxis under the, as the editor wrote, "current neoliberal capitalist ethos and cultural mindset" (Rinker, J. 2020: 11).


Peace is not simply the absence of violence, oppression, and marginalisation. Building peaceful spaces requires an integrative, culturally affirming response. Such a proactive approach is particularly pressing when designing welcoming and trauma-healing institutional support systems for new immigrants and refugees. Our transdisciplinary, trans-Atlantic approach to the praxis of peace combines an analysis of Galtung’s (1990) personal, structural, and cultural forms of violence, along with Cobb’s narrative violence (2013) with Yosso’s (2005) theory of community cultural wealth. Highlighting examples from Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, we critique how multi-layered, asset-based theories can counter the pernicious deficit-based frames underlying neoliberal constructs and conventions. Focusing on institutional, individual, community, and caregiver levels, we offer on-the-ground accounts of the work of universities, non-governmental agencies, and educators who can widen our repertoire of effective strategies for mobilising the shared strengths necessary for collective peacebuilding.

Porter, M.K., & Cristobal, N. (2018). Cultivating aloha 'aina through critical indigenous pedagogies of place. Journal of Folklore and Education, 5 (2). Retrieved from:

Opening paragraphs:

Deeply embedded traditional wisdom flourishes in an organic relationship with the stunning places that Native Hawaiians call home. From the highest jagged peaks to waterfalls that plummet down to beaches, which in turn buffer fragile tidal pools, the islands’ ecosystems attest to the interconnections of all life. Millennia of hard-won experiences living with and upon the seas and lands have shaped Indigenous senses of place and their creative expression in folklife. Native Hawaiians’ resulting depth of knowledge has contributed to sophisticated scientific, theological, linguistic, and artistic ways of living, generating the enduring folkways that create a unique sense of place. Folklore, education, and place are one.

Learning to thrive in harmony with this landscape, to steward and learn from the forests and waterways, and to enact love for others all combine in aloha ‘aina, the active devotion to one’s place and the concern for the well-being and shared wisdom of one’s people and homeland. As authors, we use the Native Hawaiian commitment to aloha ‘aina as the fundamental guiding principle that orients our approach to place-based education; thus it opens our discussion and leads to the sections that follow. After situating aloha ‘aina as part of a Critical Indigenous Pedagogy of Place, we look at how teachers, both Native and non-Native, can make this goal, and the larger political and cultural practices necessary to achieve it fully, more vibrant and relevant for their students.

To these ends, we offer curricular building blocks that derive from Indigenous Hawaiian senses of place and purpose, but that can also find resonance in other settings. We examine lokahi (unity or holism) as key to place- and culturally-responsive education that can foster such a love of places and people. Done well and in conjunction with a Critical Indigenous Pedagogy of Place, it provides teachers and learners an anchoring piko (center) on which to establish the foundation for cultural survivance (Vizenor 2008). Like the kalo (taro) plant that offers both literal and symbolic sources of nourishing strength, place-based education rooted in cherished Indigenous folklife provides an ecological model of education for social transformation. This responds to David Grunewald’s (2003) call for an entwined model that affirms human beings’ responsibility for and relationship to the environment. The concepts of lokahi and piko combine in our synthesis curriculum example about kalo, modeling for other teachers how to build multi-year, interdisciplinary, and thus in the long-term transformative, curricular arcs.

Porter, M.K. & Dawkins, S. (2017). Children of Shangri-Lost. Journal of Folklore and Education. Special Issue on Newcomers and Belonging. retrieved from:

The editors told us that our article was the only one selected from this Special Issue for use by a natoinal consulting company that focuses on intercultural and diversity education. This further reinforces the Year of Pitt Global theme. We hope to be in touch with them go to California for consulting.



Ethiopian Indigenous Wisdom and Culture Research Team: Fulbright Hays. (2018). Ethiopia Fulbright Hays Lesson Plans. Retrieved from

I was the Project Director on this incredibly complex, multi-site Fulbright Hays that spanned Ethiopia and 4 states in the USA. This is the full set of curriculum materials that my team of 18, plus 38 Ethiopian teachers, and our 6 coordinators from Wolaita Sodo University completed together. Most of the fieldwork occured during the time that we were on site and I was in charge of their research apprenticeships (IRB cleared).

The lessons are linked via our YouTube site, as well as the PittWire article and the WESA NPR broadcast. The full YouTube video is also accessible through this site and a very extensive Techer Guide for that video overview of our whole project.

They include sets of units grouped under these headings, seeral of which relate to my top areas of scholarship, as noted on the CV. Several use cutting-edge GIS, technology, mapping, and data visualization techniques to push forward curricula in both the K-12 and university levels.

Everyday Objects

Gender and Education

Food and Culture

Archive Interaction

Farm to Table

Geographic Information System - Sodo, Ethiopia

Music and Dance

Additional materials developed by Michelle King that extend her unit as well as by Ciera Young for her Culture Jam project at The Ellis School and Arsenal Middle School (PPS) can also be accessed. Furthermore, the artifacts that we selectively brought back enabled us to nearly doubled the materials available through the School Outreach Program that African Studies make savailable to regional educators for use for free.


[Swift Fox Media}. (2017, Sept. 19). An Ethiopian Expedition: Learn All About Ethiopia! [Video File]. Retrieved from

I was the project Director on this Fulbright Hays program. This was the video that I organized and commissioned by two of the participants in the Fulbright Hays (Ryan Devlin and Laura Buccigrossi). I originated the project and helped them to create the original concept and storyboarding, as well as to introduce the project as a team effort; in the end it features over 25 key speakers and actors. We have already receied word that it is being implemented internationally, including in Africa.

It directly links a world-wide audience to the 7 sets of sophisticated publications that we created as part of the Fulbright Hays Group Project Abroad Curriculum Development Program via tha African Studies Host:

Porter, M. K., Fahrenwald, C., Eschenbacher, S., & Donald, B. (2015). Facilitating transformative learning in educational organizations through service-learning: A cross-cultural approach. In A. Nicolaides, & D. Holt (Eds.), Spaces of transformation and transformations of space: Proceedings of the XI International Transformative Learning Conference. (pp. 58-69). New York: Teachers College, Columbia University. Retrieved from

Abstract: In this international collaboration we present elements of

embodiment and narrative as they contribute to transformative learning theory.

Our aim is to share best practices that make implicit knowing more explicit, are

emotionally responsive, and support organizational change that leads to full

engagement. We investigate what this looks like in service-learning settings that

cross borders of both time and space between universities, schools, communities,

and cultures. We interrogate the key concept of border crossing, Entgrenzung, as

it impacts efforts to design, evaluate, and theorize about transformative learning

in service-learning practice. Diversity, mobility, and inclusion provide new

challenges and opportunities for both individuals and organizations to grow in

their capacity for civic engagement, for perspective shift, for effective and

multimodal reflective discourse, and for linking intent to action in a global

village on the move.

Porter, M. K., & Erickson, P (2015). The transformative legacy of Coastal Studies for Girls science and leadership school.. In A. Nicolaides, & D. Holt (Eds.), Spaces of transformation and transformations of space: Proceedings of the XI International Transformative Learning Conference. (pp. 748-754). New York: Teachers College, Columbia University. Retrieved from

Abstract: Coastal Studies for Girls (CSG) in Maine provides a semester

residential program that inspires girls and women to create joyful lives, vibrant

communities, and a more connected world. CSG develops heightened

sensibilities through its integrated place-based science curriculum and enhanced

capacities through its infused leadership program. The intentional community

provides a gender-responsive place of transformation. Moreover, the personal

and academic challenges they undergo provide a catalyst for them to

transform their place in the wider world. We highlight the core pedagogies,

daily practices, and personal relationships that facilitate these dual outcomes.


Technical Reports

Porter, M.K. (2016). The 2015 Smithsonian Festival: Constructing durable bridges between the Americas. Report submitted to the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, on behalf of the American Folklore Society's Consultancy and Professional Development Program. To be available on:
I was awarded a grant through the Consultancy and Professional Development Program of the American Folklore Society to generate a conceptual analysis of the 2015 Smithsonian Folklife Festival on Peru: Pachamama. The research is informed by the decade that I have spent so far lading service-learning and community-based ethnographic programs, podcasts, articles, and radio broadcasts about education, culture, and folklife. I was able to take a fieldwork team of our graduate students and community members to Washignton DC to do extended participant observationon the National Mall. The final, team evaluation was completed in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. This selective, national consultancy is sponsored through the National Endowment for the Arts. More


Indigenous Education is a compilation of conceptual chapters and national case studies that includes empirical research based on a series of data collection methods. The book provides up-to-date scholarly research on global trends on three issues of paramount importance with indigenous education—language, culture, and identity. It also offers a strategic comparative and international education policy statement on recent shifts in indigenous education, and new approaches to explore, develop, and improve comparative education and policy research globally. Contributing authors examine several social justice issues related to indigenous education. In addition to case perspectives from 12 countries and global regions, the volume includes five conceptual chapters on topics that influence indigenous education, including policy debates, the media, the united nations, formal and informal education systems, and higher education.

Maureen Porter


University of Pittsburgh
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