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OISE’s Dr. George Dei wins prestigious award for profound impact on race and education

Award presented at international decolonization conference Nov. 3-5 at OISE

November 3, 2016


For his outstanding contributions to anti-racism studies, the advancement of human rights in education, equity and diversity, OISE professor, community leader and top Canadian scholar, Dr. George Dei has been selected co-winner of the 2016 Whitworth Award for Career Research in EducationWatch the video above to hear what winning the award means to him.  

A professor in the Social Justice Education department at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto, Dr. Dei was selected for the award for his pioneering works on anti-racism education and inclusive schooling.

“In theory and in practice, Dr. Dei’s research has influenced how Canadian school systems can combine quality and equity to improve learning outcomes and, ultimately, improve graduation rates,” said Dr. Michele Jacobsen, Chair of the Whitworth Award Nominations Committee.

Dr. Dei, an internationally-renowned scholar who has written 29 books, 19 scholarly reports, 120 book chapters and 88 refereed journal articles, will receive the award at a three-day international conference held at OISE Nov. 3-5.

The Decolonizing Conference is devoted to decolonization and issues in race, anti-racism studies, indigeneity and more. It was founded by Dr. Dei in 2006 and is organized by OISE’s Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies (CIARS), also founded by Dr. Dei 20 years ago.


Professor George Dei receives 2016 Whitworth Award

Dr. George Dei was presented with the Canadian Education Association's 2016 Whitworth Award at the Decolonizing Conference on November 3, 2016 in  Toronto. Dr. Dei is pictured above (centre) with Associate Dean, Research, International and Innovation at OISE, Dr. Michele Peterson-Badali (right); and Chief Operating Officer at the Canadian Education Association, Gilles Latour (left).

Lifelong dedication

The Whitworth Award Selection Committee appreciated Dr. Dei’s lifelong dedication to supporting educators as they develop teaching practices that foster inclusive classrooms, including his support of community-driven initiatives that contribute to the academic success of students from diverse backgrounds.

Dr. Dei’s idea of critical inclusion underpinned the establishment of Ontario’s first Africentric school in 2009. This was a new space that was created from the ground up – as opposed to being built upon current practices – for the purpose of achieving an equitable school and equitable educational outcomes.

“The discussion needs to move away from questioning why students are dropping out and instead shift towards a more holistic and collective vision of how educators and schools ‘push out’ and exclude students,” said Dr. Dei.

“Only when we shift our focus from individual to collective responsibility can we develop new educational practices that are informed by the histories, identities and experiences of students from diverse racial, cultural and social backgrounds,” he continued.

Awards and honours

In addition to receiving the 2016 Whitworth Award, Dr. George Dei has also been recognized with the following:

  • Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowships in 2015 and 2016
  • Professor Extraordinaire at University of South Africa since 2012
  • 2007 Canadian Alliance of Black Educators Award for “Excellence in Education and Community Development”
  • 2006 Planet Africa Renaissance Award for achievements in African education, anti-racism and youth.


“We must examine equity critically by asking: What is it? How is it constructed and why? What does equity mean for understanding power relations in society? Who’s in? Who’s out? Why are certain people in? Who is negated? Who is omitted? Whose values are counted or discounted?” said Dr. Dei.

“Students do not always find themselves in healthy liveable spaces that allow them to develop and unleash their full, creative potentials. School culture, classroom pedagogies and educators’ teaching methods can create a disconnect between official curriculum and students’ lived experiences, leading most students to feel unwelcome and to tune-out.”

Building upon his previous research on the theory and practice of anti-racism education, early school leaving among Black youth, and issues of diversity in Canada’s increasingly multicultural school systems, Dr. Dei’s current ambitious portfolio includes studying the implications of Indigenous philosophies of community and responsibility for schooling.

He is also publishing a book entitled Blackness in Anti-Colonial and Decolonial Prisms, building on existing scholarship and theorization of Blackness in multiple geo-political spaces.

Dr. Dei shares the 2016 Whitworth Award, presented annually to individuals who have made a sustained and substantial contribution to educational research, with co-winner Dr. Maurice Tardif, recognized for his research on the teaching profession, including his founding of one of the world’s largest inter-university research networks.


More information about Dr. George Dei
OISE community praises Dr. George Dei, Whitworth Award winner
International conference at OISE to probe racism, colonizing effects on Indigenous peoples


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