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Curriculum, Teaching  & Learning
Rubén Gaztambide-Fernandez

Rubén Gaztambide-Fernandez
Program Coordinator, Curriculum and Pedagogy Program

phone: (416) 978-0194

Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

Comparative, International and Development Education

Research Overview

Rubén A. Gaztambide-Fernández research and scholarship are concerned with questions of symbolic boundaries and the dynamics of cultural production and processes of identification in educational contexts. He draws on cultural studies, decolonial/postcolonial and feminist theory, and critical sociology to inform his understanding of curriculum and pedagogy as encounters with difference. He is the Principal Investigator of the Urban Arts High Schools Project, a study of specialized arts programs in public schools across the United States and Canada, and the author of The Best of the Best: Becoming Elite at an American Boarding School, and ethnographic study of processes of elite identification and the production of privilege. Currently, he is the Director of the Youth Research Lab at the Centre for Urban Schooling of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, where he is Principal Investigator of the Youth Solidarities Across Boundaries Project, a participatory action research project with Latinx and Indigenous youth in the city of Toronto. At the YRL, he also oversees and supports several youth participatory action research projects, including the editorial board of in:cite, a youth-run online research journal, as well as a study of the practices of participatory facilitators. His theoretical work focuses on the relationship between creativity, decolonization, and solidarity.

Curriculum Vitae

Academic History

Ed.D., Learning and Teaching, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA, USA, 2006
M.Ed., Arts in Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA, USA, 2000
B.M., Performance, The Boston Conservatory, Boston, MA, USA, 1993

Teaching Overview

Over the last thirteen years, I have taught graduate courses in the Arts in Education, Foundational as well as Contemporary Curriculum Thought, and I also currently lead the Proseminar for Doctoral students in Curriculum Studies. Most recently, I have been developing and teaching a graduate seminar titled Pedagogies of Solidarity and an Introduction to Decolonization in Education. In the past, I have also taught Sociology of Education and Qualitative Research Methods.

Representative Publications


Gaztambide-Fernández, R. (2009). The Best of the Best: Becoming Elite at American Boarding School. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press


Kraehe, A., Gaztambide-Fernández, R. & Carpenter, B. S. (Eds.). (2018). The Palgrave Handbook of Race and the Arts in Education. Palgrave


Gaztambide-Fernández, R. & Parekh, G. (2017) Market “choices” or structured pathways? How specialized arts education contributes to the reproduction of inequality. Educational Policy Analysis Archives, 25(41). (

Gaztambide-Fernández, R., Nicholls, R. & Arráiz Matute, A. (2016) For what purpose the arts? An analysis of the mission statements of urban arts high schools in Canada and the United States. Arts Education Policy Review, 117(1), 29-42 (

Gaztambide-Fernández, R. (2015). Elite entanglements and the demand for a radically un/ethical position: The case of wienie night. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 28(9), 1129-1147. (

Gaztambide-Fernández, R. (2013) Why the Arts Don't Do Anything: Toward a New Vision for Cultural Production in Education. Harvard Educational Review: April 2013, Vol. 83, No. 1, pp. 211-237.

You can also find a complete list of publications with links in my Google Scholar Page

Research Grants and Contracts

My current projects with the Youth Research Lab are funded by an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and several small grants from foundations.

The Urban Arts High Schools Project was supported by two grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, a Research Development Grant (2008-2010, 39,000) and a Standard Research Grant (2010-2013, 109,000). It was initiated through a New Staff Matching Grant from the Connaught Program at the University of Toronto (2007-2010, 40,000).

My previous research on elite boarding schools was supported by a dissertation improvement grant from the National Science Foundation (2005-2006, 7,490).

Honours and Awards

In 2011, I received the "Early Career Scholar" Award from the Critical Issues in Curriculum and Cultural Studies SIG of the American Educational Research Association. In 2007, I was nominated for a Teaching Excellence Award at OISE. In 2005, I received an Achievement in Instructional Technology Award, from the Presidential Instructional Technology Fellows Program at Harvard University, and in 2004, I received an Outstanding Faculty/Staff Member Recognition Award from African, Latino, Asian, and Native American Advisory Council (ALANA) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

My doctoral training was supported through the Research Training Grant of the Spencer Foundation.

Professional Activities

Currently, I am the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Curriculum Inquiry. I am also a Senior Fellow at Massey College. I am a former Director of the Centre for Media and Culture in Education and the Centre for Urban Schooling at OISE. I am on the editorial boards of several journals, including Qualitative Sociology, and I am a former chair of the Curriculum & Pedagogy Group. As a doctoral student, I was a member of the student run editorial board of the Harvard Educational Review.