educating for critical democracy


b. 1986, HK.


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I am a social anthropologist with regional expertise in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with a focus on Egypt. I grew up in San Francisco, lived 17 years in Cairo, seven years in the Netherlands, and six years in Illinois. My  research deals with  questions around cultures and communities of learning, critical democracy, global generations and citizenship, critical ethnography, the history of ideas, and youth learning and political participation in the digital age.   I teach in online and on-campus programs. My work in education is motivated by the idea of praxis, of the relationship between ideas and action. Education at is best provides the environment, ethics, and intellectual and social tools for understanding, observing and intervening in the world.   I believe in, and will continue to explore,  the power of ideas and the value of building learning communities  to shape our lives and societies for the better.



University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (2011-present) 

Professor, Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership  

Director, Global Studies in Education program; Affiliate, Center for South Asia and Middle East Studies, Center for Global Studies, Center for African Studies, European Union Center.

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International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam (2005-2010) 

Senior Lecturer, International Development Studies;  Convenor, Children and Youth Studies MA Specialization (CYS).


Columbia University


PhD Columbia University in Comparative and International Education 



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MA The American University in Cairo in Anthropology/Sociology




BA University of California at Berkeley in Middle East Studies  


2018-2021  Member Advisory Board, “Skills and Integration of Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Applicants in European Labour Markets.” Funded by European Commission, Horizon 2020-Research and Innovation Framework Program. Coordinated by Glasgow Caledonian University.

2013-2017  Member Advisory Board, “Power2Youth.” Funded by the European Commission, CORDIS, coordinated by Istituto Affari Internazionali, University of Rome.

2010-Present  Consulting Editor,  International Review of Education

2011-2013  Co-editor, Jadaliyya, On Media and Reporting Page

2009  Consultant, UNICEF Cairo- Assisted in developing a Tempus proposal for a post-graduate diploma on Public Policy and Child Rights

2008-2010  Member, International Board of Editors, Mediterranean Journal of Educational Studies (MJES)     

2008-2010  Member, International Board of Editors, Malta Review of Educational Research

2008-2009  Member of Academic Committee Research programme, “Enhancement of Knowledge and Dialogue with the Islamic/Arab World” of the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM), Commissioned by Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

2007  Advisory role: Save the Children UK, UNICEF and UNESCO initiative to promote qualitative research for educational reform in the Arab states.

2006   Member of the Advisory board of the International Dialogues Foundation– Youth and Metropolis conference, The Hague.

2004-2005  Visiting Research Fellow, Leiden University, Department of Languages and Cultures of the Middle East

2003   Member, International Academic Scientific Board of the Mid-Term Conference of the Research Committee, Sociology of Education, International Sociological Association.

2001-2003  Member of Board of Editors, Mediterranean Journal of Educational Studies

2002  Research Fellow, School of Education, University of California at Berkeley

2001-2003  Research Fellow, Gender and Women’s Studies, American University in Cairo

2000-2001  Senior Associate Member, St. Antony’s College, Centre for Middle East Studies, University of Oxford

 Chaos in the classroom: the story of the schoolmaster who became infatuated with one of his pupils, 1567  ( Or.5302, f. 80r ) from the  British Library   

Chaos in the classroom: the story of the schoolmaster who became infatuated with one of his pupils, 1567  (Or.5302, f. 80r) from the British Library