Dr. Jeannie Kerr on Diversities, Inequalities, and Social (In)justices in Education

October 27, 2022

Joining the Faculty of Education this fall, Dr. Jeannie Kerr describes herself as “an educational philosopher, theorist, and qualitative researcher” of Irish and settler identity. Appointed as an associate professor in Curriculum Studies: Educational Theory and Pedagogy, she brings to bear significant experience as a teacher in culturally enriched urban K–12 classrooms, which deeply informs her scholarship focused on examining societal inequalities in K-12, teacher education, and higher education settings. Her work seeks to disrupt the centring of Euro-Western approaches and knowledges in research, theory, and practice.

Dr. Kerr received her PhD in 2014 and MA in 2007, both from the University of British Columbia. She is currently transitioning from a position held since 2016 as associate professor for the University of Winnipeg’s Senior Years stream in Teacher Education, and she continues to offer graduate supervision as an adjunct professor for the University of Manitoba’s Department of Educational Administration, Foundations and Psychology. Dr. Kerr also served as an adjunct professor and lecturer in UBC’s Department of Language and Literacy Education.

As principal investigator for a SSHRC Explore grant on Indigenous sovereignty in elementary curricula, Dr. Kerr is establishing groundwork for a larger SSHRC Partnership Grant application titled Systemic Change in Urban Schooling in Canada: Engaging Community and Teachers in Decolonial Possibilities. She explains, “This initial stage of the project involves engaging deeply and respectfully with exemplars of curricula that have been developed in partnership with educators and community members attentive to community priorities in the context of addressing societal exclusions.” Dr. Kerr’s commitment to social equity and justice was also recognized with a recent Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee grant on “Student-Led Decolonial Movements in Higher Education: A Case Study of the Indigenous Course Requirement (ICR) at The University of Winnipeg,” for which she was principal investigator.

Several other current SSHRC-funded projects—for which Dr. Kerr serves as co-investigator— evidence her commitment to understanding how race-based inequality and lack of access to educational resources affect student outcomes and experience, particularly for Indigenous and racialized students. One project comprises an extensive, long-term, multi-streamed study focusing on community-driven solutions to poverty. Two projects for the Manitoba Research Alliance focus on “Racialized Inequality and Opportunity Gaps: Mixed-Methods Research of Student Mobility and Academic Outcomes in Winnipeg's Inner-City” and “Building Community Using the Toybox Project.” Dr. Kerr describes the Toybox project as a means of expanding educational resources in part through workshops “held in community with caregivers and knowledge holders.” The workshops aim for participants “to become project authors by developing literacy, numeracy and wellness strategies based on their lived experiences and knowledge.”

Dr. Kerr has shared her research on diversity, inequality, and social (in)justice in education through numerous peer-reviewed publications: including single-authored articles for Race Ethnicity and Education and Research in Education, and lead author in pieces for Qualitative Inquiry, Education, Language and Sociology Research, and Journal of Contemporary Issues in Education. Most recently, she has published single- and co-authored book chapters on complacency in K–12 climate-change education, colonialism and reconciliation in higher education, and how Indigenous ‘storywork’ principles can help address settler-colonial divides in urban educational research.

In her educational work located on ancestral Coast Salish territories at SFU, she is seeking to work with faculty and students in the SFU Faculty of Education who wish to create something that is not yet imagined in education, based in decolonial approaches that decentre Euro-Western traditions of thought and practice.