E. Wayne Ross

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not looking for graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows. Please do not contact the faculty member with any such requests.


Research Interests

Critical Pedagogy
Curriculum Studies
Educational Approaches
Political Contexts
Social Contexts
Social Justice in Education
Social Studies Education
teacher education

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

The pedagogical potential of student activism: narratives of economics students (2021)

This research presents a narrative exploration of how economics students understand and experience their activism in the age of the neoliberal university and how their experience as students is transformed by social action. The primary focus of this study is to understand economics students experience as part of an effort to better understand student activism within the neoliberal university. This dissertation offers seven narrative themes that illustratethe experiences of economics students as they are transformed by social action and also presents a portrayal of the relations between students’ experiences of activism and as economics students. This research discusses the implications and contributions that student activism generates in the student life and in the identity of students and future professionals in economics. The narrative themes were created to familiarize readers to curricular activism in economics and to help them to interpret and analyze economics students’ perspectives andexperiences participating in curricular activism. One of the main arguments of this dissertation is that activism and social action are contributing to a re-imagination and reinvention of the experience of being an economics student in the age of the neoliberal university. Activism transforms the way economics students see themselves and how they understand their role in society, the role of economics and the urge to change economics education as new economic, social, environmental and health crises affect everyday life.

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Building social justice unionism: rank and file teachers' struggle for racial and educational justice in Chicago (2020)

The purpose of this study was to examine how teachers’ experiences combining their activism for education and racial justice can inform social justice unionism theory in practice. To explore this topic, this study examined the lived experiences of 13 rank and file teachers in the Chicago Teachers Union as they engage in education justice work and the broader Movement for Black Lives in the city. The research questions were: 1.) How do rank and file teachers in a social justice union engage with racial justice movements? 2.) What types of tensions, conflicts, or moments of dissonance emerge in this engagement and how do teachers deal with those? 3.) How can teachers’ lived experiences in this context inform theory around building social justice unionism in practice?This study employed thematic narrative inquiry and utilized ethnographic data collection methods to examine participants’ storied experiences of union activism, racial justice struggle, and personal struggle to balance both. Data collection involved one year of on the ground field work in Chicago where I engaged in participant observation of teachers in their activism. In addition to participant observation, 13 semi-structured interviews were carried out with teachers, all whom identified as active in the work of their union and broader social justice struggles.The results of my data analysis are presented in the form of an ethnographic performance text called ethnodrama. Selected narratives from interviews, participant observation, and document analysis were edited and adapted into a play script which allowed me to engage a plurality of voices and capture multiple aspects of teachers’ experiences in the struggle for racial and educational justice in a dynamic way.Findings suggest that the teachers experience internal union tension and disagreement on the topics of race, police violence, and the definition of social justice unionism itself. Moreover, in addition to struggling with colleagues on the above topics, teachers also struggle personally to maintain their commitment to their activism amidst ongoing attacks on their profession and working conditions. Findings illustrate that social justice unionism is as an ongoing, dynamic process that is continuously unfolding and in the making.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Unwrapping Citizenship: Getting Inside the Nature of Citizenship Education (2012)

Citizenship education has been and continues to be espoused as a primary purposeof schooling. Citizenship education has been challenged by not only shifting notions ofwhat is means to be a citizen, but also by the contested nature of citizenship anddemocracy. Neoliberal impacts have changed citizenship from a political and social to aneconomic concept. Citizenship has been professed as a universal concept providing allpeople in our democracy equal rights and protection. This, however, fails to promoteunderstanding of the realities of inequality that permeate society. Hegemonic structurescontinue to separate the privileged and the not so privileged. Problems of citzenshipinherently mean problems of citizenship education. This purpose of this study was toexplore the reality of citizenship education. The research questions were:• What are the opportunities present (in the curriculum) for students to developcitizenship at the elementary school, and what is the nature of the studentexperiences and interactions with those opportunities?• How do school experiences promote development of citizenship attributes ofpersonal responsibility, participation, and social justice?Data was collected through environmental observation and a series of semi-structuredindividual and group interviews with grade seven students at Westview ElementarySchool in Vancouver, British Columbia. The data revealed an emphasis on developingpersonally responsible citizenship, while participatory citizenship education remained setaside for the students in leadership group, and opportunities for developing authenticsocial justice citizenship education were minimal. In the interviews, students communicated the impact of agency and increased awareness. There was a void withregards to critical opportunities to question systems and explore reasons for injustice.Student experiences with citizenship education did not tackle concepts of democracy,universalism of citizenship, nor explore effects of privilege. This lack of criticalpedagogy and questioning of current structures disables the capacity of citizenshipeducation to transform society. Tensions presented themselves in the struggle foreducators to step out of the neutral zone, unpack limitations, and have time to alter thecurrent curriculum path. Amidst the tensions and the challenges of citizenship educationat Westview, however, there are many possibilities and promises for transforming thecitizenship rhetoric into a reality.

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Citizenship under construction: student ideologies and social studies education (2010)

Social studies education has always had an emphasis on citizenship, a role that grows increasingly important as our society falls under the hegemonic control of neoliberal ideology. As elite interests become embedded and misrepresented in the collective consciousness as collective interests, it becomes imperative to explore the nature of ideological development. Accountability schemes that employ standards-based reforms and high-stakes testing further entrench hegemonic social control by narrowing the curriculum, discouraging critical thinking, and eroding teachers’ autonomy. These effects are of particular concern to social studies educators.This study employed purposive sampling to identify students who were opinionated and well-versed in political and social issues. Students were interviewed from two Alberta high schools to examine their personal ideologies, their construction of a sense of democratic citizenship, and the influences that contributed to these ideological beliefs. Special attention was paid to the role of social studies curriculum and pedagogy in fostering democratic ideals.The students identified parents and school, particularly social studies, as the greatest influences on their values and opinions. They showed collectivist tendencies and placed great value on equality, but they also showed evidence of having internalized the capitalist and individualistic rhetoric of neoliberalism. These students conceived of democracy in narrow terms and identified with passive modes of citizenship and political participation. These findings also point to the hegemonic effects of neoliberal ideology.However, the contradictions and timidity of many students’ opinions indicate that their ideologies remain very much under construction. We can begin the work of creating a more democratic and equitable society by teaching social studies in ways that foster the development of critically minded, active citizens who recognize the need for social transformation.

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