andrea dyrness
Associate Professor
Educational Foundations, Policy & Practice

Miramontes Baca Education Building, Room 502
University of Colorado Boulder
249 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309


Andrea Dyrness is an Associate Professor in Educational Foundations, Policy, and Practice, and a faculty affiliate in Anthropology and Ethnic Studies.

She is an anthropologist of education whose areas of interest include education and citizenship in Latin America and transnational Latinx migrant communities in the U.S. and Spain. Her research investigates how young people growing up in transnational communities, particularly in Latin American and Caribbean diasporas, learn to belong, participate and work for change in multiple national communities, and the spaces and practices that support their critical citizenship formation. Her latest book, Border Thinking: Latinx Youth Decolonizing Citizenship (University of Minnesota Press, 2020) was awarded the Outstanding Book Award for 2020 by the Council on Anthropology and Education of the American Anthropological Association. Dr. Dyrness is also the author of Mothers United: An Immigrant Struggle for Socially Just Education (Univ of Minnesota Press, 2011), and has published in Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Harvard Educational Review, Journal of Diaspora, Indigenous and Minority Education, and other journals. She has been an Associate Editor for Anthropology & Education Quarterly and is currently an Associate Editor for AERA Open, the open access journal for the American Educational Research Association. Prior to coming to CU, Dr. Dyrness taught at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and has held fellowships and appointments in El Salvador (1998-99 and 2008-09), Spain (2013-14), and Denmark (2014).


PhD, University of California at Berkeley, Social and Cultural Studies in Education

MA, University of California at Berkeley, Social and Cultural Studies in Education

B.A., Brown University, Anthropology & Educational Studies

I use critical ethnographic and participatory research methods to explore processes of citizenship formation, identity, and belonging in contexts of transnational migration. I have completed research projects on the participation of Latina immigrant mothers in school reform in California, on citizenship education for high school youth in San Salvador, El Salvador, on citizenship education for transnational Latinx and Caribbean youth in Madrid, Spain, and on transnational activism and identity formation among Latina feminist activists in Spain. I see research as being not only about generating new theoretical understanding, but as engaging with the communities and youth in my studies to support their own processes of inquiry, self-definition, and work for change. My first book, Mothers United: An Immigrant Struggle for Socially Just Education (Univ of Minnesota Press, 2011), chronicled the experiences of a group of Latina mothers in a movement for new small schools, and the evolution of their critical consciousness as they became engaged partners in reform and co-researchers.

My new co-authored book, Border Thinking: Latinx Youth Decolonizing Citizenship (University of Minnesota Press, Spring 2020) explores the meaning of border crossing—national, cultural, and metaphorical—in the lives of Latinx youth in California, El Salvador, and Spain, and the implications for democratic citizenship. Read about the book in Anthropology News here.

In a new project beginning Fall 2019, I and a team of graduate students are studying the development of critical consciousness among Latinx elementary school and undergraduate students in a cultural mentoring program that takes place after school on the CU campus. Our report from the first two years is available on the Latino History Project website found here. Read about the program in Anthropology News here.

Like my research, my teaching reflects my broad interest in bringing a cross-cultural comparative perspective to the study of how people build and use knowledge for social change. I teach qualitative research methods for doctoral students, Anthropology of Education, and courses in transnational migration and education, Latinx Education Across the Americas, and International and Comparative Education.

Faculty Director, Uni Hill-CU Cultural Mentoring Program

Council on Anthropology & Education Presidential Mentor

Member, CU Engage Steering Committee

National Education Policy Center (NEPC) Fellow

Board member of the Strachan Foundation, which provides support to small educational programs in Central America, since 2001.


Dyrness, Andrea (2011). Mothers United: An Immigrant Struggle for Socially Just Education. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Dyrness, Andrea and Enrique Sepúlveda (2020). Border Thinking: Latinx Youth Decolonizing Citizenship. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Peer-reviewed journal articles:

Dyrness, Andrea (2023) “The other side of diversity”: Students’ experiences of race, difference, and inequality in a Costa Rican international school. Race Ethnicity and Education. DOI: 10.1080/13613324.2023.2192949 

Dyrness, Andrea (2021) “Rethinking global citizenship education with/for transnational youth.” Globalisation, Societies and Education, Vol. 19, No. 4, Special Issue on ‘Mobilizing global citizenship education for alternative futures in challenging times.’

Dyrness, Andrea and Thea Abu El-Haj (2019) “The democratic citizenship formation of transnational youth.” Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 2. DOI:10.1111/aeq.12294

Dyrness, Andrea (2016) “The Making of a Feminist: Spaces of self-formation among Latina immigrant activists in Madrid.” Journal of Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 201-214. Fall 2016.

Dyrness, Andrea and Enrique Sepúlveda (2015) “Education and the production of diasporic citizens in El Salvador.” Harvard Educational Review, Vol. 85, No. 1, pp. 108-131.

Dyrness, Andrea (2012) “‘Contra Viento y Marea (Against Wind and Tide)’: Building Civic Identity Among Children of Emigration in El Salvador.” Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 1, March 2012, pp. 41-60.

Dyrness, Andrea (2008) “Research for Change versus Research as Change: Lessons from a mujerista participatory research team.” Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 1, March 2008, pp. 23-44. Theme issue on “Activist Educational Anthropology”.