Cortez photo 2021
Assistant Professor
Teacher Learning, Research & Practice • Learning Sciences & Human Development

Fleming Building, Room 400E
University of Colorado Boulder
249 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309

Arturo Cortez is an Assistant Professor of Teacher Learning, Research and Practice at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Broadly, his work is animated by cultural historical activity to explore how teachers collectively design for transformative and humanizing learning environments that leverage the everyday cultural practices of nondominant youth in urban settings. In his work with novice teachers, he intentionally designs for equity to understand the learning processes that emerge as teachers learn how to break away from dominant forms of schooling, opening up opportunities for new relationships between teachers, students, school administration, and community members.

There are three main queries that Professor Cortez takes up: (1) How might teacher learning environments be organized to support, develop, and expand how novice teachers see and design for robust and consequential forms of learning? (2) What types of collective reflective practices might afford teachers to engage in transformative practices, as they become designers of their own professional vision? (3) How might teacher learning be conceptualized as both a product and process, as well as an ecological phenomenon? His most recent work has been published in the Review of Research in Education and Mind, Culture, and Activity. Professor Cortez’s early commitments to amplifying the everyday practices of youth were jointly-honed and developed while he was a middle school teacher in East Palo Alto and a high school teacher in San Francisco.

For prospective PhD students: I seek students who are interested in leveraging young people's valued cultural practices, especially as resources for co-designing intergenerational learning environments with teachers. I am currently involved in two major projects: (1) investigating the role of video game-based play as a site of meaningful and transformative learning and (2) examining the affordances and constraints of leveraging artificial intelligence in formal classroom environments. I seek to prepare students to work across multiple spaces (i.e., the academy, community-based organization, schools, and homes), using theories of learning and design-based methodologies, to facilitate change in how people relate to their worlds, practices, fellow humans, and more than human siblings.


PhD Education, University of California, Berkeley
EdM Education Policy, Harvard Graduate School of Education
MA Teaching, University of San Francisco
BA Biological Basis of Behavior, University of Pennsylvania

EDUC 2050: Step up to Justice

EDUC 3570: Learning With Technology

EDUC 4435: Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies

EDUC 5800: Critical Digital Pedagogies

EDUC 8135: Theories and Methodologies for Examining Teacher Learning

EDUC 8730: Advanced Qualitative Methods: Video Analysis

EDUC 8804: Critical Cultural Historical Approaches to Teacher Learning 

Co-Chair (2020-present), Cultural Historical Research Special Interest Group, American Educational Research Association.

Editor (2021-present), Mind, Culture, and Activity.

Lizárraga, J. R., & Cortez, A. (2020). Cyborg jotería pedagogies: Latinx drag queens leveraging communication ecologies in the age of the digital and social displacement. Association of Mexican American Educators Journal, 14(2), 44-66.

Gutiérrez, K. D., Espinoza, M., Becker, B., Cortes, K., Cortez, A., Lizárraga, J. R., Rivero, E., Villegas, K., & Yin, P. (co-equal authors). (2019). Youth as Historical Actors in the Production of Possible Futures. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 26(4), 291-308.

Cortez, A., & Gutiérrez, K. D. (2019). Socio-spatial repertoires as tools for resistance and expansive literacies. In M. P. Pacheco & P. Z. Morales (Eds.), Transforming schooling for second language learners: Policies, pedagogies, and practices. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Lizárraga, J. R., & Cortez, A. (2019). #gentrification, cultural erasure, and the (im)possibilities of digital queer gestures. In A. DeKosnik, K. Feldman (Eds.), #identity: Hashtagging race, gender, sex, and nation . Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Gutierrez, K. D., Cortes, K., Cortez, A., DiGiacomo, D., Higgs, J., Johnson, P., Lizarraga, J. R., Mendoza, E., Tien, J., & Vakil, S. (co-equal authors). (2017). Replacing representation with imagination: Finding ingenuity in everyday practices. Review of Research in Education, 41 (1), 30-60.