Directory of People & Offices
Associate Professor of Education
Meira Levinson is a normative political philosopher who writes about civic education, multiculturalism, and youth empowerment. In doing so, she draws upon scholarship from multiple disciplines as well as her eight years of experience teaching in the Atlanta and Boston Public Schools. Her latest book, No Citizen Left Behind (Harvard University Press, 2012), argues that the United States suffers from a civic empowerment gap that is as shameful and anti-democratic as the academic achievement gap targeted by No Child Left Behind. She shows how schools can help address the civic empowerment gap by teaching collective action, openly discussing the racialized dimensions of citizenship, and provoking students by engaging their passions against contemporary injustices through action civics. Levinson is also interested in questions of educational justice. A new project on Justice in Schools will combine philosophical analysis and school-based case studies to illuminate the complex dimensions of evaluating, achieving, and teaching justice in schools. The project is intended to give educators tools for making just decisions in their own practice, and also to push political theorists to develop theories of justice that are robust enough to address complex school-based dilemmas.
Levinson believes strongly in the possibility of productive cross-fertilizationwithout loss of rigoramong scholarship, policy, and practice. She attempts to realize this ideal in her work.
Levinson is co-convener of the Civic and Moral Education Initiative at HGSE.
- Ph.D., University of Oxford
- Campbell, D., M. Levinson, and F. Hess (Eds.). Making Civics Count. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. (2012)
- Levinson, M. (2012). No Citizen Left Behind. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (2012)
- Levinson, M. (2011) Benefits of Civic Education: Increased Equality and Narrowed Civic Empowerment Gap. Section of national report on Keeping Our Republic: Restoring the Civic Mission of Schools, to be released by the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools. (2011)
- Levinson, M. (2011) Racial Politics and Double Consciousness: Education for Liberation in an Inescapably Diverse Polity. Canadian Issues/Thèmes Canadiens. Diversity and Education for Liberation: Realities, Possibilities, and Problems. Spring 2011, 80-82. (2011)
- Levinson, M. (2011). Democracy, Accountability, and Education. Theory and Research in Education 9(2): 125-144. (2011)
- Levinson, M. (2011). Is Teaching About Martin Luther King, Jr., Bad for Kids? Guest blogger on Rick Hess Straight Up. January 18, 2011. (2011)
- Levinson, M. (2011). What Can Schools Do To Promote Civil Dialogue? Guest blogger on Rick Hess Straight Up. January 19, 2011. Reprinted in Citizenship Matters. National Center for Learning and Citizenship, Education Commission of the States. March-April 2011. (2011)
- Levinson, M. (2011). Why Education is Not The Civil Rights Issue of Our Time. Guest blogger on Rick Hess Straight Up. January 20, 2011. (2011)
- Reich, J., M. Levinson, and W. Johnson (2011). Using Online Social Networks to Foster Preservice Teachers Membership in a Networked Community of Praxis. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education (CITE): forthcoming. (2011)
- Levinson, M. (2010). An Embarrassing Second Amendment: A Proud Daughter Belatedly (1) Recognizes and (2) Celebrates Her Fathers Influence on Her Life and Work. Law and Courts 20(3), 16-17. (2010)
- Levinson, M. (2010). The Civic Empowerment Gap: Defining the Problem and Locating Solutions. In L.R. Sherrod, J. Torney-Purta, and C.A. Flanagan (Eds.) Handbook of Research on Civic Engagement in Youth (pp. 331-361). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. (2010)
- Levinson, M. (2009). 'Let Us Now Praise...?' Rethinking Heroes and Role Models in an Egalitarian Age. In Y. Raley & G. Preyer (Eds.), Philosophy of Education in the Era of Globalization (pp. 129-161). New York: Routledge. (2009)
- Levinson, M. (2009). Mapping Multicultural Education. In H. Siegel (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Education (pp. 420-442). New York: Oxford University Press. (2009)
- Levinson, M. (2009). Taking Action: What We Can Do to Address the Civic Achievement Gap. Social Studies Review 48(1), 33-36. (2009)
- Combating the Civic Achievement Gap. (2008). ASCD Express. (2008)
- Democracy at Risk: How Political Choices Undermine Citizen Participation, and What We Can Do About It (2005). Co-authored with Stephen Macedo (primary author) and others. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.
- The Demands of Liberal Education (1999). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Challenging Deliberation (2003). Theory and Research in Education 1(1): 23-49.
- Common Schools and Multicultural Education (2007). Journal of Philosophy of Education 41(4): 625-42.Also in Mark Halstead and Graham Haydon, eds. (2008). The Common School and the Comprehensive Ideal. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell: 124-40.
- Dilemmas of Deliberative Civic Education (2002). Philosophy of Education Yearbook: 262-70.
- Finding Role Models in the Community (2008). In Mica Pollock, ed.
- Is Autonomy Imposing Education Too Demanding? A Response to Dr. De Ruyter (2004). Studies in Philosophy and Education 23: 223-33.
- Liberalism versus Democracy? Schooling Private Citizens in the Public Square (1997). British Journal of Political Science 27: 333-360.
- Liberalism, Pluralism, and Political Education: Paradox or Paradigm? (1999). Oxford Review of Education 25: 39-58.
- Minority Participation and Civic Education in Deliberative Democracies (2002). In Daniel A. Bell and Avner de-Shalit, eds. Forms of Justice: Critical Perspectives on David Miller's Political Philosophy. Boulder: Rowman and Littlefield: 159-82.
- Multicultural Education (forthcoming). In Harvey Siegel, ed. Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Education. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Solving the Civic Achievement Gap in De Facto Segregated Schools (2005). Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly 25 (1/2): 2-10.
- Taking Action: What We Can Do to Address the Civic Achievement Gap (forthcoming). Social Studies Review. Journal of the California Council for the Social Studies.
- The Civic Achievement Gap (2004). Threshold 2 (3): 12-15.
- The Language of Race (2003). Theory and Research in Education 1(3): 267-81. (Book review of Lawrence Blum, Im Not a Racist, But )
- Getting Religion: Religion, Community, and Diversity in Public and Private Schools (2003). Co-authored with Sanford Levinson. In Alan Wolfe, ed. School Choice: The Moral Debate. Princeton: Princeton University Press: 104-25. Also in Sanford Levinson. Wrestling with Diversity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press: 90-123.
- Michael Harrington Book Award, New Political Science Caucus, American Political Science Association (2013)
- NCSS 2013 Exemplary Research in Social Studies Education Award, National Council for the Social Studies (2013)
- Bunting Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (2003)
- Young Scholar Award, Program in Ethics and Public Life, Cornell University (2003)
- Post-Doctoral Fellowship, National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation (2002)
- Advisory Board, Generation Citizen (2010-present)
- Advisory Board, Schools, Civics and Citizenship: What Teachers Think and Do, AEI (2010-present)
- Founding Member, National Action Civics Collaborative (2010-present)
- Advisory Board, We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution and We the People: Project Citizen (2009-present)
- Research Advisory Board, CIRCLE and the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, Tufts University (2009-present)
- Grant reviewer, Spencer Foundation (2007-present)
- Editorial Board, Theory and Research in Education (2006-present)
- Steering Committee Member, Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools (2003-present)
- Reviewer for peer-reviewed journals and publishers including Theory and Research in Education, Citizenship Studies, Studies in Philosophy and Education, Journal of Politics, Oxford University Press, Chicago University Press, Routledge, Rowman and Littlefield (2000-present)
- Board of Trustees, Discovering Justice (2010-2013)
- Civic Schools Design Team, Civic Ed Project (2011-2011)
- Annual Conference Program Committee, Philosophy of Education Society (2010-2011)
- Public Face of PES Committee, Philosophy of Education Society (2008-2009)
- Young Faculty Leadership Forum (2002-2006)
- Choices in Little Rock Advisory Group, Facing History and Ourselves (2003-2005)
- Civics in Action Planning Committee, Boston Public Schools (2003-2005)
- American Political Science Associations Standing Committee on Civic Education and Engagement (2002-2005)
- Inaugural Member, American Political Science Associations Standing Committee on Civic Education and Engagement (2002-2005)
- Education Committee, Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (2000-2004)
- Defining Civic Action, Spencer Foundation, (2011-2012)
Civics is a decidedly old school idea. It conjures up images of textbooks, worksheets, charts showing how a bill becomes a law, and lists of people, laws, and cases to be memorized. Old-school civics privileges knowledge over action, government and politics over civil society, and formal institutions and static structures over informal networks and dynamic collaboratives. The Spencer Foundations The New Civics/Civic Learning and Civic Action research initiative attempts to break old-style civics hold on our imaginations about what civic learning and action truly can be. New civics revels in the multiplicity of voices enabled by Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Blogger. It recognizes the potential civic impact of socially-conscious art and poetry slams, of community gardens, and socially conscious consumerism. It looks to a 21st century future that is potentially radically democratized, in which civic action takes place under, with, outside, and beyond the state, and where participation addresses real issues of inequality and injustice.Even so, I suggest that new civics remains painfully rooted in old civics assumptions especially about the meaning and importance of the public-private distinction and the importance of working for the common good. These characteristics reflect an implicit privileging of white, middle class values and opportunities that fail to recognize or foster other valuable conceptions of civic action. To take just one example, becoming educated is viewed even by new civics as an inherently self-oriented activity. It is not a civic act, because it helps only oneself. In African American political thought, however, this is patently false. Education is a tool for liberation and for racial uplift. To pursue ones own education is an inherently civic act. Similarly, the pursuit of economic power and stability is seen as self-interested rather than civically-oriented from mainstream conceptions of civic action, but is arguably a tool for group empowerment and social uplift from the perspective of a poor community. In this grant submission, I propose to develop the concept of civic action in light of historically marginalized conceptions from African American politics and education and from youth concepts. This is philosophical and conceptual work. I hope that as a result, however, we will be better placed to identify both appropriate academic research and desirable educational practices with respect to promoting civic action.
- Annual International Conference in Philosophy of Education, Spencer Foundation, (2008-2012)