Levinson joined HGSE in 2002 as a visiting scholar. After serving as a mentor teacher in the Teacher Education Program, she was named assistant professor of education in 2007. She was promoted to associate professor in 2011. Prior to her time at Harvard, Levinson taught in the Atlanta and Boston public schools.
“During her time at HGSE, Meira has left an indelible impact both on the field of education and on this institution. Her award-winning scholarship — particularly her work on civic education — has had a significant impact on theory, practice, and policy,” said Ryan. “Her service to HGSE is equally remarkable. She founded and led the Civic and Moral Engagement Initiative, which has significantly strengthened HGSE’s role in this area of research and preparation. Her teaching is exceptional, and her students sing her praises as a mentor, a partner, and a leader of critical conversations in the classroom. Meira is an extraordinarily talented and committed colleague, and I am thrilled to be able to recognize her contributions with this promotion.”
Levinson, a normative political philosopher, has focused primarily on civic education, multiculturalism, youth empowerment, and educational ethics.
Throughout her career, Levinson has authored a number of books including, in 2012, No Citizen Left Behind, which discusses how schools can help tackle the civic empowerment gap. In the past two years, the book has won the Michael Harrington Award from the American Political Science Association, the Exemplary Research in Social Studies Award from the National Council for the Social Studies, a Critics Choice Award from the American Educational Studies Association, and the North American Society for Social Philosophy Book Award.
“I have loved being at Harvard,” said Levinson. “First, I adore my students and colleagues — both faculty and staff. They're passionate, smart, self-critical, caring, and deeply committed to making the world a better place through improving education research, policy, and practice. Second, I have been immensely grateful for the opportunities Harvard has offered me to expand my own thinking, scholarship, and impact.”
Upon her promotion to senior faculty, Levinson expressed not only gratitude, but also a great sense of responsibility. “Frankly, as someone who spends a lot of time thinking and writing about the often unjust exercise of power within and through schools, I feel a bit ambivalent about being so personally vested in the ‘power structure.’ Privilege can be seductive,” she said. “In this respect, I feel deeply responsible to use the privilege that has been handed to me for just and moral ends. But in that same vein, I am incredibly pleased to be able to be part of Harvard Graduate School of Education for the long haul, as I am eager to help contribute to a world-class institution that is trying to help students, educators, policymakers, and researchers learn to change the world. This is an honorable goal, and one I feel lucky to be able to contribute to for the foreseeable future.”
Levinson plans to continue her research and collaborations with colleagues in other Harvard schools and departments, including the Kennedy School, the Business School, and the Safra Center for Ethics. She will continue to work on developing UrbanEdX, a HarvardX version of her Foundations of Urban Education course, and looks forward to supporting HGSE initiatives across Harvard to improve both teaching and learning.