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Faculty & Research

Aysha Upchurch

Artist in Residence

Lecturer on Education

Aysha Upchurch

Degree:  Ed.M., Harvard University, Graduate School of Education, (2015)
Email:  [javascript protected email address]
Office:  Longfellow 309
Faculty Coordinator:  Kathleen Fowkes


Aysha Upchurch, the Dancing Diplomat, is a seed planter and soil agitator who creates, facilitates, and designs for radical change. This translates to her working as a sought after performer, instructor, education consultant, and facilitator whose work sits at the nexus of performing arts, youth advocacy, social justice, and transformative education. She has shared her work on artfully designing equitable and culturally relevant classrooms, the importance of movement in education, and embracing Hip Hop as a powerful pedagogy at national conferences, as a U.S. Cultural Envoy, and most recently at TedxUConn. Joy and community are core tenets of her teaching and facilitation practice where she has worked with nonprofit organizations and corporate entities to support their goals around more effective communication, identifying best collaborative strategies, and creating pathways to embed diversity, equity, inclusion as a practice and as values into their mission.

Upchurch holds an M.A. in international peace and conflict resolution from American University and an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has been on faculty at George Mason University, Howard Community College, and Salem State University. Currently she is a Lecturer on Education and Artist-in-Residence at Harvard, where she teaches courses on Hip Hop pedagogy and embodied learning, and directs HipHopEX — an intergenerational lab-classroom that designs programming to experience, explore, and experiment with Hop Hop arts in education. Never able or willing to parse her identity as educator and artist, she still presents her own work on the stage has been in residence at The Yard, a CATALYST artist at the Dance Complex, and a guest choreographer at Middlebury College, University of Wisconsin-Steven’s Point, and Endicott College.  As a soloist and choreographer, her work weaves together history, narrative and movement to create pieces that share stories of celebration, survival, and liberation. Whether on the stage or in a classroom, Upchurch is on the move to crush borders and embody being D.O.P.E. — dismantling oppression and pushing education

Click here to see a full list of Aysha Upchurch's courses.

Areas of Expertise

Upchurch, A. (2020). Peace, Love, Unity, and Having Conscious Fun: Hip Hop Dance Education Can Move with Swag and Consciousness. In HipHopEd: The Compilation on Hip-hop Education: Volume 2: Hip-hop as Praxis & Social Justice Edmund Adjapong and Ian Levy (eds.) New York: Peer Lang, pp. 139-154.

Upchurch, A. (2018). Tools for Nourishing a Radically Inclusive Arts Learning Environment. VSA International Blog, July issue.

Upchurch, A. (2006). Method to the Madness: Weighing in on Hip Hop Technique. Bourgeon: Journal of Dance, 2(3), December issue.

Upchurch, A. (2002). Modern Child Slavery: The Coercion and Exploitation of Youth Worldwide. Washington, DC: Youth Advocate Program International.

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