Leigh Patel

Educational Foundations, Organizations, and Policy

Dr. Leigh Patel is a transdisciplinary scholar who studies the narratives that create material realities in society. Her research focuses on both the ways schooling delivers inequities and how education can be a tool for liberation. She is a highly sought-after speaker and well-regarded scholar across the fields of education, ethnic studies, critical higher education studies, and literacy.

Instructional Interests

  • Decolonization and Education
  • Education and Society
  • Social Movement and Education
  • Critical Policy Analysis
  • Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality
  • Literacy Foundations

Scholarly Interests

  • The relationship between struggle and study
  • How narrative create and justify material inequities
  • Language and literacy as ways of re-shaping curricula
  • Decolonizing research
  • Historical analysis of education

Selected Grants

Study and struggle: The public and private pedagogies of social movements
Spencer Foundation Discretionary Grant. Amount awarded: $75,000

Interrupting the internalization of inequity
Education research service project funded by the American Educational Research Association . Amount awarded: $4650.00

Out of school language learning in culturally based organizations: A youth participatory project
Robert Browne Foundation $6000.00

Social locations and intersectionality: A cross-setting collaborative project
Boston College-sponsored competitive collaborative research grant of $93,000.

Contact zones: Teachers and youth of color in higher education
$5000 grant from Haymarket People's Fund

Featured Publications

  • Patel, L. (in press). There is no study without struggle: Higher education and settler colonialism. Beacon Press.

  • Patel, L. (2015). Decolonizing educational research: From ownership to answerability. Routledge: NY.

  • Patel, L. (2013). Youth held at the border: Immigration, education and the politics of inclusion. Teachers College Press: New York, NY.

  • Patel, L. (2019). Fugitive practices: Learning in a settler colony. Educational Studies (55, 3) 253-261.

  • Patel, L, & *Price, A. (2016). The origins, potentials, and limits of racial justice. Critical Ethnic Studies, 2(2), 61-81.

Awards and Honors

  • 2017 - June Jordan Award, Presented by The Ohio State University

  • 2014 - Nominee for Mid-Career Award, American Educational Research Association

  • 2013 - Youth Held at the Border
    • American Educational Studies Association Critics’ Book Choice Nominee – Phillip Chinn award, National Association for Multicultural Education
    • Nominee – Benjamin Hooks National Book Award
    • Nominee – Outstanding book of the year, American Educational Research Association

  • 2011 - Jan/Feb - Visiting Scholar - Queensland University of Technology

  • 2011 - Mar-Aug - Visiting Scholar - Graduate Center, City University of New York

Engagement, Partnerships, and Professional Service

  • 2019-present - Honorary Consultant, Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life

  • 2010-present - National Board Member, Education for Liberation

  • 2015-present - Mentor, Cultivating New Voices, National Council of Teachers of English

  • 2015-present - Mentor, WT Grant Scholars Program

  • 2013-2016 - Youth leadership Initiative, Annenberg Institute for School Reform, Brown University
Leigh Patel


University of Pittsburgh
5317 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

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