Alexander J. Means, Educational Foundations Assistant Professor

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Alexander Means
“I believe that schools and higher education classrooms are places where the social and intellectual capacities of all people, regardless of class, race, gender, ability, or sexual orientation, can be nurtured and developed.”
Hometown:

Lansing, MI

Department:

Educational Foundations

Degree:

PhD, Sociology of Education (University of Toronto)

What is your current role at the COE?
I am an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Foundations (EDEF), specializing in Educational Policy with Global Perspectives.

Where did you work before coming to UHM?
I am originally from Michigan, but I have lived and worked in a variety of contexts over the last two decades. In 2007, I moved from Chicago, Illinois to Toronto, Canada in order to pursue my PhD at the University of Toronto in the sociology of education. In 2013, I became an assistant professor of Social and Psychological Foundations of Education at the State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo State where I also earned tenure and promotion to Associate Professor.

What drew you to UHM?
I was attracted to UHM because of its rich social and cultural diversity as well as by the quality and focus of the graduate programs in EDEF. The interdisciplinary nature of EDEF is unique and syncs with my scholarly interests in the areas of educational policy, sociology of education, and educational theory. I have published numerous books and articles in these areas including, Learning to Save the Future: Rethinking Education and Work in the Era Digital Capitalism (Routledge, 2018); Educational Commons in Theory and Practice: Global Pedagogy and Politics (Palgrave, 2017); and The Wiley Handbook of Global Education Reform (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018). I feel incredibly fortunate to have found an academic home that fits so well with my interests and commitments. I am greatly enjoying the students here at UHM, and I am truly excited by the mission of EDEF to develop the next generation of educational professionals and researchers to serve diverse communities here in Hawai‘i and internationally.

How did you become interested in educational foundations?
I first became interested in educational foundations as a seventh grade social studies teacher in Chicago, Illinois. Educational foundations is a field that is concerned with the philosophical, historical, and sociological dynamics of education. I was attracted to the field as a means of developing a deeper understanding of the economic, cultural, and political processes shaping the context that I was working within. In particular, I was attracted to sociology because it offers analytical concepts and research essential for understanding issues related to education, power, inequality, and social change. My most recent academic work has been exploring such themes in relation to digital capitalism and education futures. These engagements inform my intellectual and ethical commitments as well as the foundation of my teaching, service, and scholarship.

What is your philosophy or approach to teaching?
Teaching has always been the most important and rewarding role that I have performed. The reason is that, first and foremost, I love learning and discussing ideas with students of all ages and backgrounds. My teaching is defined by a core belief in the transformative power of education as an ethical and moral practice. I believe that schools and higher education classrooms are places where the social and intellectual capacities of all people, regardless of class, race, gender, ability, or sexual orientation, can be nurtured and developed. This commitment to equity informs my foundational belief that all human beings have the intrinsic potential to understand and transform the conditions in which they live in the interest of the common good.

What are your future plans?
I plan on continuing to grow as a scholar, educator, advisor, and colleague. I am looking forward to serving the students and the mission of UHM to have a positive and lasting impact here in Hawai‘i and globally. My goals include contributing to my department’s growth, developing professionally, and thriving as a leader in educational foundations in the USA and internationally.