Finding Their Voice: Researcher Explores the Impact of Youth Activism
As a youth educator in San Francisco’s Mission District in the 1990s, Ben Kirshner saw firsthand the contradictions faced by students of color in school.
“I remember intellectually inclined youth who dove into conversations about ‘urbanology’ but struggled to stay engaged in middle school social studies,” says Kirshner, an associate professor in CU Boulder’s School of Education. “I saw students who did everything ‘right’ in school but after graduation learned their school had not offered the courses they needed to be eligible for a four-year college.”
Kirshner now studies learning environments that encourage students from marginalized communities to think critically about the world and use their experiences to improve their schools and cities.
His recent book, Youth Activism in an Era of Education Inequality, draws on this research, exploring how students build political power and learn through activism, even when facing racial inequality and limited educational opportunities. The book received the Society for Research on Adolescence’s Best Authored Book Award in 2016.