As a former elementary and middle school teacher interested in the intersections of race, science, and education, Jason Buell enrolled in doctoral studies in education because he deeply cares about teachers.
I think it is important to not just think about teachers in relation to students, but that teachers themselves are human beings and have their own needs for being whole. The School of Education gave me tools to begin to understand about how to best support teachers as human beings, and I hope to make contributions to doing so in the future.”
“I think it is important to not just think about teachers in relation to students, but that teachers themselves are human beings and have their own needs for being whole,” he said. “The School of Education gave me tools to begin to understand about how to best support teachers as human beings, and I hope to make contributions to doing so in the future.”
Buell also chose CU Boulder’s STEM Education program in the School of Education for the opportunity to work with his advisor, Erin Furtak, who shares his commitment to “working with teachers and being a co-learner alongside them rather than simply providing expertise advice or doing research on them.”
Buell’s research focuses on supporting science teachers in learning to engage students in equitable and meaningful scientific practices. His dissertation was part of a long-term research-practice partnership with a local school district that he has been instrumental in cultivating. By drawing together readings from the philosophy of science, science studies, and science education, Buell developed a new framework for understanding the models students create to represent their understanding of everyday scientific phenomena.
During his time at CU Boulder, Buell also mentored countless undergraduate and graduate students, served as a co-founder of the student-led journal focused on public scholarship, “The Assembly,” acted as an advisor to the McNair Scholar Program, and served as a board member for the Teachers of Color and Allies Summit. Buell’s many commitments to community building and community engagement contributed to his selection for the Outstanding Graduate Award for Community Engagement and Public Scholarship by the School of Education faculty.
“Dr. Buell went above and beyond as a student to actively contribute to the formation of a better community,” faculty nominators wrote. “His abiding care, thoughtfulness, and wisdom have helped countless fellow students, teachers, and community members.”
Even after taking a postdoctoral position at Northwestern University following his dissertation defense in the summer of 2020, Buell has continued to provide vital mentorship by attending and presenting at STEMinars and serving as a host to STEM Education PhD finalists.
Perhaps it is his experience as a teacher and love for educators that make human connection easy for Buell, but he credits the lifelong friends and colleagues he met at CU Boulder as one the most important outcomes of his doctoral studies.
“One of the strengths of the School of Education is it is big enough to facilitate many different kinds of relationships but small enough that you can still feel like an individual,” he said.
Buell has long held a passion for justice education, and he was an original member of a team of educators of color who developed EduColor, a nationwide collective that mobilizes advocates nationwide around issues of educational equity, agency, and justice. He is hopeful about his CU Boulder alma mater’s justice-centric work and future.
“I really like how the School of Education continues to grow and develop,” he said. “The school has done a wonderful job of bringing in diverse and justice-focused scholars and developing new programs that benefit local communities.”
Always the supporter of teachers and learners, Dr. Buell’s closing advice for incoming doctoral students includes caring for one another.
“Find other students that you care about and want to see succeed and then help them succeed,” he said. “Then no matter what happens you will have done something good with your time here.”