Research interests

While the completion of my doctoral research is currently my main focus, I have also maintained an active research agenda in other areas, working both alone and with colleagues. Below, I have provided a brief outline of some of my research interests and projects, though this is certainly not an exhaustive list.

My doctoral research explores the intersection of social justice and digital spaces: in particular, I am interested in the ways in which pre-service teachers think about and discuss their digital identity in the context of being asked to engage with issues such as racism and privilege in open, online spaces. I approached this research through a post-critical lens (similar to what Lather (2001) refers to as “resistance post-modernism”) in order to better understand the ways in which the discursive production of the “good teacher,” coupled with the prevailing modernist notion of online identity, shapes how our students are able to conceive of their online selves; in addition to working with participants to deconstruct those normative understandings, we also worked together to explore how they might take up Foucault’s (1990) or Butler’s (1997) notions of the (agentic) subject in digital spaces in order to “perform” their way to becoming anti-oppressive educators. Building on this research, I have also written about the ethical responsibility that educators have to address social justice issues in online spaces (Hildebrandt, 2018).

A related focus of my research is my interest in the areas of digital identity and digital citizenship. In an article co-authored with Dr. Alec Couros, I explored the idea of digital scholarship and how commonsense understandings of digital identity can be problematic for academics hoping to engage online, particularly due to the reputational economy of academia (Hildebrandt & Couros, 2016). I am also interested in the recent trends towards cybershaming and cybervigilatism and how these phenomena are shaping the way in which society in general (and educators in particular) are able to engage with controversial or difficult subjects online. Additionally, I have become very interested in the way that many in the field of education have taken up a “personal responsibility” model when approaching the topic of digital citizenship; I have done some preliminary writing on my blog relating to how we might apply Westheimer and Kahne’s (2004) conceptions of the “good citizen” to online spaces in order to move towards a more justice-oriented view of digital citizenship.

A final area that greatly interests me is the way in which we approach anti-oppressive education in our undergraduate program. In particular, I hope to take up and build upon work done by Solomon, Portelli, Daniel, and Campbell (2005) and Montgomery (2013) relating to the patterns and resistances commonly seen when we introduce pre-service teachers to issues such as white privilege or the “isms,” as well as Sensoy and DiAngelo’s (2017) list of common rebuttals to learning about social justice concepts. For instance, I am curious about the ways in which these rebuttals and resistances are affected when we address these issues in an online course (rather than in a face-to-face setting), as well as how we might effectively use publicly available, digital examples of resistance and rebuttals (such as in online forums or comment sections) as teaching tools.

Works Cited

Butler, J. (1997). Excitable Speech: A politics of the performative. New York, NY: Routledge.

Foucault, M. (1990). The history of sexuality. Volume I: An introduction (R. Hurley, Trans.). New York, NY: Vintage.

Hildebrandt, K. (2018). Nurturing #TeacherVoice: Why Teachers’ Online Presence Matters to Educational Equity [Invited editorial], Texas Education Review 6(1) [Critical Issue on Technology for Equity in Education], 33-38. Retrieved from https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/handle/2152/64977

Hildebrandt, K., & Couros, A. (2016). Digital selves, digital scholars: Theorising academic identity in online spaces. Journal of Applied Social Theory, 1(1). Retrieved from http://socialtheoryapplied.com/journal/jast/article/view/16

Lather, P. (2001). Postmodernism, post-structuralism, and post(critical) ethnography: Of ruins, aporias, and angels. In P. Atkinson, A. Coffey, S. Delamont, J. Lofland, & L. Lofland (Eds.), Handbook of Ethnography (pp. 477-492). London: Sage.

Montgomery, K. (2013). Pedagogy and privilege: The challenges and possibilities of teaching critically about race.  Critical Education, 4(1), 1-22. Retrieved from http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled/article/view/182323

Sensoy, Ő., & DiAngelo, R. (2017). Is everyone really equal? (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Solomon, R. P., Portelli, J.P., Daniel, B., & Campbell, A. (2005). The discourse of denial: How white teacher candidates construct race, racism, and “white privilege.” Race, Ethnicity, and Education 8(2), 147-169.

Westheimer, J., & Kahne, J. (2004). What kind of citizen? The politics of educating for democracy. American Educational Research Journal, 41(2), 237-269. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3699366