Dr. Swalwell joined the faculty at Iowa State University as an Assistant Professor of Education in 2014 after serving on the faculty of George Mason University and the University of Maryland, College Park. Born and raised in Iowa, she graduated from the University of Northern Iowa's teacher education program in 2002. For several years, she taught social studies at a rural public high school in Minnesota and a middle school summer program at a New England boarding school. In 2011, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction.
Dr. Swalwell's research focuses on social studies education, social justice education, and the intersection of policy and classroom practice with a particular emphasis on social class and race. She uses a critical theoretical framework to answer the following questions:
What does a justice-oriented social studies education look like, and how should it be enacted?
In what ways is this context-specific?
What helps practitioners be more effective in this endeavor?
Her work has appeared in Rethinking Schools, Teaching Tolerance, Curriculum Inquiry, Democratic Education, Education Policy, Journal of Social Studies Research, Social Education, Theory & Research in Social Education, Teachers College Record, The Educational Forum, and several edited volumes. Her nationally recognized book, Educating Activist Allies: Social Justice Pedagogy with the Suburban and Urban Elite, was published by Routledge in 2013. In addition, she has presented her research at annual meetings of the American Educational Research Association, the National Association for Multicultural Education, the National Council of Social Studies, the Northwest Teachers for Social Justice, and the White Privilege Conference.
As a professor, she has worked extensively with undergraduate and graduate students as well as practicing teachers as a mentor and professional development facilitator. She currently teaches courses in elementary social studies methods and critical pedagogies and also leads an open access course about the history of struggles against anti-Black racism in Iowa that has reached hundreds of community members, teachers, and university students. In 2016, she was appointed as the Team Leader for the Elementary Education program at Iowa State University. She has been a Zinn Education Project Research Fellow, co-founded the Critical Resources for Elementary Social Studies Teachers group, and serves as the Co-Chair of the Critical Educators for Social Justice within the American Educational Research Association.
Ph.D., Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2011