Reading the Word and the World: A Conversation with Shirley Steinberg

Reading the Word and the World: A Conversation with Shirley Steinberg

 Act 1: Teaching as Bricolage

Prof. Shirley Steinberg speaks with us amid a global pandemic. For some of us, this pandemic has exposed what we already new about neoliberal higher education: the proliferation of the banking model of education, top-down power relations, undemocratic classrooms and departments, etc. In her work in critical pedagogy, Steinberg has long been challenging and resisting the status quo.

 Act 2: Righteous Indignation for Change

Steinberg talks further about the Freirean foundations of her education theory and practice. She calls on teachers and students to live out righteous indignation in our educational systems and how to create resistance and change. “We have to be in stealth,” says Steinberg, and shed light on how our institutions have failed us. Steinberg finds it important to listen to students, and to engage with youth culture, in order to lead collegially with them.

 About this Episode:

For our May 2020 podcast we are pleased to talk with another icon in critical pedagogy, Prof. Shirley Steinberg. She is the Werklund Research Professor of Critical Youth Studies at the University of Calgary, Canada. Steinberg embodies Paulo Freire’s dictum of “reading the word and the world,” as is evidenced in her work in youth and cultural and media studies, anti-imperial education, constructivist theory, qualitative research, critical diversity studies, refugee studies, combatting Islamophobia, and more.

Steinberg lives out her research with her global and local work, in particular with refugees and youth. With her late partner Joe Kincheloe, Steinberg co-founded The Paulo and Nita Freire International Project of Critical Pedagogy which deals with “critical, cultural community, youth and media activism,” and she serves as the Executive Director. She is the founding editor of the journal Taboo: The Journal of Culture and Education and The International Journal of Youth Studies, and is on the board of The International Journal of Critical Pedagogy. She is the author of numerous books and articles in the field of critical pedagogy.

Steinberg is the recipient of many awards, including the Paulo Freire Lifetime Achievement Award for Social Justice and Education (from the American Educational Research Association, 2011). We talked to Prof. Steinberg in the midst of a global pandemic. For some of us, this pandemic has exposed what we already new about neoliberal higher education: the proliferation of the banking model of education, top-down power relations, undemocratic classrooms and departments, etc. In her work in critical pedagogy, Steinberg has long been challenging and resisting the status quo.

Resources for workers united!: Teaching social justice movements:

Arnold, Rick, Bev
Burke, et al. Educating for a Change.
Toronto: Between the Lines, 1991.

Brown, Adrienne Maree.
Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change,
Changing Worlds.
AK Press, 2017.

Brown, Michael Jacoby.
Building Powerful Community Organizations.
Arlington, MA: Long Haul Press, 2006.

Burke, Bev. Education for Changing Unions. Toronto:
Between the lines, 2002.

Crass, Chris. Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist
Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy
. PM Press,

Dixon, Chris. Another Politics: Talking Across Today’s
Transformative Movements
. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014.

Epstein, Barbara Epstein. Political Protest & Cultural Revolution: Nonviolent Direct Action in the 1970s and 1980s. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

Interfaith Worker Justice:

Lopez, Tina and Barb
Thomas. Dancing on Live Embers:
Challenging Racism in Organizations.
Toronto: Between the Lines, 2006.

Piven, Frances Fox and
Richard A. Cloward. Poor People’s
Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail
. New York: Vintage Books, 1979.

Strength in Union

Local 728 at the
Coca-Cola protest:

Local 728 with Atlanta
Sanitation Workers:

Sarah Jaffe interview
with Ben Speight:

Resources for the Carlos Alberto Torres Podcast


Carlos Alberto Torres’ website:

UCLA Freire Institute Blog:

UniFreire (São Paulo):

Freire Institute (United Kingdom):

Books and articles:

Here are only a few of his many writings:

Torres, Carlos Alberto. Theoretical and Empirical Foundations of Critical Global Citizenship Education. New York: Routledge, 2017.

Torres, Carlos Alberto. First Freire. Early Writings in Social Justice Education. New York, Teachers College Press, 2014.

Torres, Carlos Alberto. Political Sociology of Adult Education. Rotterdam, Sense Publishers, 2013.

Torres, Carlos Alberto. Globalizations and Education. Collected Essays on Class, Race, Gender, and the State. Introduction by Michael W. Apple, Afterword by Pedro Demo. New York: Teachers College Press-Columbia University, 2009.

Torres, Carlos Alberto. Education and Neoliberal Globalization. Introduction by Pedro Noguera. New York, and London, Routledge, 2009.

Torres, Carlos Alberto and Pedro Noguera (Editors). Social Justice for Teachers: Paulo Freire and Education as a Possible Dream. The Hague, The Netherlands, Sense Publishers, 2009.

Carlos Mora Ninci and Guillermo Ruiz (Compiladores) Carlos A. Torres et al. La sociología política de la educación en perspective internacional y comparada. Las contribuciones de Carlos Alberto Torres. Buenos Aires, Miño y Dávila, 2008.

Herrera, Linda, and Carlos Alberto Torres, eds. Cultures of Arab Schooling: Critical Ethnographies from Egypt. New York, SUNY Press, 2006.

Rhoads, Robert A. and Carlos Alberto Torres, eds. The Political Economy of Globalization: The University, The State and Market in the Americas. Stanford University Press, 2005.

Torres, Carlos Alberto. “Comparative Education: The Dialectics of Globalization and Its Discontents.” Pp. 446-461 in Comparative Education: The Dialectic of Global and the Local. 2nd Ed. Eds. Robert F. Arnove and Carlos Alberto Torres. Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield, 2003.

Resources: The New Poor People’s Campaign

Poor People’s Campaign website:

Baptist, Willie and Jan Rehmann. 2011. Pedagogy of the Poor: Building the Movement to End Poverty. New York: Teachers College Press.

Barber, William J., III, with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. 2016. The New Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement Is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear. Boston: Beacon.

Theoharis, Liz. 2017. Always with Us? What Jesus Really Said about the Poor. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Intersectional Pedagogies

This podcast focuses on intersectional pedagogies, and what the consideration of multiple socially-constructed identities and social locations bring to the learning journey. The conversation is with two leaders in the field, Profs. Kim Case and Desdamona Rios of the University of Houston at Clear Lake. Issues of privilege, power, and social justice are all made clearer in the intersections.

Intersectionality is “a complex analysis of both privileged and oppressed social identities that simultaneously interact to create systemic inequities, and therefore lived experiences of prejudice and discrimination, privilege, and opportunities, and perspectives from particular social locations” (Case, Intersectional Pedagogy).

Kim A. Case, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at the University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL) and director of the Applied Social Issues graduate degree. Prof. Case teaches courses She has won multiple teaching and service awards. Her two co-edited books, Deconstructing Privilege: Teaching and Learning as Allies in the Classroom (Routledge, 2013) and Intersectional Pedagogy: Complicating Identity and Social Justice (Routledge, 2017), bring intersectional theories into pedagogical practices. Kim shows us the practical implications and transformative possibilities of prioritizing intersectional issues of race, class, gender, sexuality and the rest in the college classroom.

Desdamona Rios, Ph.D. is associate professor of Psychology at UHCL. She has a joint doctorate in Women’s Studies and Psychology from the University of Michigan. Her research focus is on narrative identities and promise for Latinx American high school students and LGBTQ college students. Prof. Rios has articles in both of Kim’s edited books; in Deconstructing Privilege: “Recognizing Privilege by Reducing Invisibility: The Global Feminisms Project as a Pedagogical Tool” (with Abigail J. Stewart). In Intersectional Pedagogy she has co-written two articles: “Decentering Student ‘Uniqueness’ in Lessons about Intersectionality” (with M. Bowling and J. Harris) and “Infusing Intersectionality: Complicating the Psychology of Women Course.”

I’ve invited both scholar-activists to guide us through the complicated and vital issues of intersectional theories and practices in the classroom. They discuss issues of student-centered learning environments, the importance of self care, taking risks in the classroom, the current political moment, and social action.

Resources for Economic Justice Work

Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickle and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America. Picador, 2011.

Donald Hirsch and Laura Valadez-Martinez, The Living Wage. Agenda, 2017.

Stephanie Luce, Fighting for a Living Wage. ILR Press, 2004.

Annelise Orleck, “We Are All Fast Food Workers Now.” The Global Uprising Against Poverty Wages. Beacon, 2018.

Robert Pollin and Mark Brenner, A Measure of Fairness: The Economics of Living Wages and Minimum Wages in the U.S. Cornell University Press, 2008.

Robert Pollin and Stephanie Luce, The Living Wage: Building a Fair Economy. New Press, 2000.

David K. Shipler, The Working Poor: Invisible in America. Vintage, 2005.

Melissa Snarr, All You That Labor: Religion and Ethics in the Living Wage Movement. NYU Press, 2011.

Donald R. Stabile, The Living Wage: Lessons from the History of Economic Thought. Edward Elgar, 2009.

Interfaith Worker Justice:

Jobs with Justice:

United for a Fair Economy:

UFE’s Campus Living Wage Manual:

United Students Against Sweatshops:

Family Budget Calculators:

Economic Policy Institute:

MIT Living Wage Calculator:

Fact Sheet for Living Wage at Agnes Scott College:

T.J. Jourian: Resources for the Podcast

Here’s some homework: find out about the use of the asterisk:

Avery Tomkins, “Asterisk,” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 1 (1-2): 26-27: See also: “Why we used trans* and don’t anymore”:

Movement Strategy Center:

Link to The Transitions Initiative and Transitions Labs:

Out of the Spiritual Closet: Organizers Transforming the Practice of Social Justice, Kristin Zimmerman, Neelam Pathi Konda, Brenda Salgado Taj James, MSC, 210:

Dr. T.J. Jourian Podcast, Part 2


In these two podcast segments, T.J. explores the current context for trans*educators, the genderism, or forced labeling, the siloing of student affairs staff and faculty, and the possibility of collaborations and working across institutional boundaries. T.J. embodies, in his teaching, workshops, and scholarship, what it means to be intersectional. He shows why faculty in higher education need to build coalitions with student affairs staff. From bell hooks’ statement, “Theory is not inherently healing, liberatory, or revolutionary,” T.J. argues that we need to find and make places of co-learning and co-creating. T.J. asks us to consider: To whom are we accountable? In Part 2 Dr. T.J. Jourian talks about models of campus collaboration for justice, the growing critical mass of transgender scholars who are creating their own agenda and scholarship. He reminds us that “the gender expansive world is a given” and we all need to step up and into the challenges this brings to mainstream pedagogy and curriculum.

One of the items in my “Classroom Agreements” (or ground rules) in every class I teach is: “We will allow each other to make mistakes.” T.J. urges us to take risks, make mistakes, ask for help—but after we have done our homework (see your assignment below). For those of us committed to co-creating democratic spaces in our classes, transpedagogies are necessary, pushing the boundaries to new liberatory possibilities.

T.J. also offers a definition of leadership that is “leaderfull”, incorporating the voices of the masses on the margins. He leaves us with the question, based in reflexivity: “Who are your co-conspirators in the work? Are you a co-conspirator too?”

Follow T.J.’s blog at “Waking Up Tired: Not Your T*oken”:

Dr. T.J. Jourian Podcast, Part 1

For those who teach in K-12 and higher education: do you have classes/courses that do not include trans voices?

In Part 1 of our conversation with Dr. T.J. Jourian on transpedagogies, we discuss his mentors and influences, including activist Grace Lee Boggs (see his educator’s statement on his website: )

In this conversation with Dr. T.J. Jourian, we discuss the emerging field of transpedagogies. Jourian has a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Loyola University Chicago (2017) with a dissertation entitled, “My Masculinity Is a Little Love Poem to Myself”: Trans*masculine College Students’ Conceptualizations of Masculinity.” T.J. is also the co-creator of the Journal of Critical Scholarship on Higher Education and Student Affairs. He has written extensively in intersectional teaching and justice-centered curriculum and pedagogy.

On his website T.J. offers a definition: “Trans*formational pedagogy foregrounds trans people in achieving the democratic and emancipatory principles of higher education.” Trans* is a method, based in constructivist educational theory, to expose binary thinking and imagine a new dynamic model in gender and sexuality studies. Transpedagogies go beyond mimesis—the mirroring of heteronormativity—to explore the evolving nature of sexual orientation and gender identity. T.J. describes a justice-centered approach to curriculum and pedagogy that all teachers/faculty need to study and incorporate.

T.J. talks about “artivism”—creative activism, the silo-ing of student affairs staff and faculty and ways to cross that divide, and how faculty can address their own excuses for trans-exclusion in their syllabi, aka, the “there is no room” excuse—and setting new, more inclusive priorities in whatever discipline. It’s important to learn to be vulnerable about possibly messing up (and many of us will mess up), and to have students construct learning with us. How do we include pronouns but also move into deeper, structural issues?