Beth C.

Profile: Beth C. Rubin

Professor; Coordinator, Social Studies Education Program; Chair of the Educational Theory, Policy and Administration (ETPA) department

As an educational researcher, I use critical, sociocultural frameworks and qualitative tools to investigate how young people develop, both as learners and as citizens, amid the interwoven contexts of classroom, school, and community. I explore, through school based ethnographic study, how youth civic identity and belonging take shape within local contexts marked by history, culture, politics and economics, and I consider the intersections and implications of memory, identity and belonging. I work with teachers to design and study curricular and pedagogical innovations that attend to the complexities of youth civic learning amid historical and contemporary injustice.

I design my classroom - both in my early career teaching secondary school social studies and now, training new teachers and educational researchers in social studies education, urban education, and qualitative research methods - for active learning, critical thinking and an interweave of theory and practice. I also run projects and programs that engage students, pre-service teachers and teachers in critical action research. I join with others in reimagining social studies as a space to disrupt oppression and nurture connection and critical engagement, as I speak about in this recent talk at the University of Michigan.

Current Projects

"Creating Civically Engaged Districts: Socially Transformative Design to Cultivate and Integrate Youth Civic Voice," funded by the Spencer Foundation

"Public Histories, Situated Citizenships: Educating for Democracy in Divided Societies," supported by the Rutgers Institute for Research on Women

"Youth in Action: Partnership for Civic Learning and Engagement,"  funded by Rutgers Community-University Research Partnership Grants for New Brunswick

Professional Affiliations

American Educational Research Association
American Anthropological Association
College and University Faculty Assembly of the National Council for the Social Studies

Recent Grants

2018-2019 Spencer Foundation Grant

2018-2019  Institute for Research on Women Fellowship, Rutgers University

2017 New Brunswick-Rutgers Collaborative Research Grant

2014 GAIA Grant

2013 Fulbright Scholar Award

2011 Schumann Family Foundation, Research Grant

2009 Overbrook Foundation, Research Grant

2009 CESEP Public Scholarship and Service Learning Curriculum Development Grant

2007 Spencer Foundation Research Grant

2004 Institute for Research on Women Fellowship, Rutgers University

2004 Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement Research Grant

2003-2005 National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship


2001 University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Education Ph.D., Education (Social and Cultural Studies)
1992 Brown University, M.A.T., Social Studies Education
1989 Oberlin College, B.A., Government, Third World Studies

Expertise & Research Interest

Social Studies

History and Memory
Civic Engagement
Race & Equity in Education
Qualitative Research
Civic Learning and Belonging

Research Work With Students

My current research project on civic learning and identity in post-conflict Guatemala, “Civic Learning and Teaching in Guatemalan Schools,” is funded by a Fulbright Scholar grant. The “Youth Participatory Action Research in the Classroom” study (with Mayida Zaal and Jennifer Ayala), funded by the Overbrook Foundation and the Schumann Fund for New Jersey, explores the integration of youth civic action research into social studies classrooms. In “Teaching for Civic Learning in Diverse Social Studies Classrooms,” funded by the Spencer Foundation, I worked with teachers in diverse high school social studies classrooms to develop, implement, and study the impact of an approach to civic education designed to build builds upon students’ experiences and concerns while developing the content knowledge and critical skills necessary for empowered democratic participation.

Recent & Selected Publications

2019 Beth C. Rubin, Eric Freedman and Jongsung Kim, Design research in social studies education: Critical lessons from an emerging field. New York: Routledge. 

2012 Beth C. Rubin, Making citizens: Transforming civic learning for diverse social studies classrooms. New York: Routledge.

2008 Beth C. Rubin and James Giarelli, Editors, Civic education for diverse citizens in global times: Rethinking theory and practice. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

2003 Beth C. Rubin and Elena M. Silva, Editors, Critical voices in school reform: Students living through change. New York & London: RoutledgeFalmer.


In press  Beth C. Rubin and Hana Cervinkova. Challenging silences: Historical memory and democratic citizenship education in Poland and Guatemala. Anthropology & Education Quarterly.

2017  Beth C. Rubin and Matilde Ivic de Monterroso. De los escenarios politicos a la práctica: el desarrollo de la identidad cívica en distintos contextos educativos de Guatemala. Revista, 34, 58-66.

2017  Beth C. Rubin; Jennifer Ayala; Mayida Zaal. Aims, authenticity and authority: Navigating youth participatory action research in the classroom. Curriculum Inquiry,

2016  Beth C. Rubin; Thea Abu El-Haj; Eliot Graham and Kevin Clay. Confronting the urban civic opportunity gap:  Integrating youth participatory action research into preservice teacher education. Journal of Teacher                 Education, 67: 424-436.

2016  Beth C. Rubin, We come to form ourselves bit by bit: Educating for citizenship in postconflict Guatemala. American Educational Research Journal. 53: 639-672

2016  Beth C. Rubin. They don’t tell it: Indigenous social studies teachers transforming curricula in postconflict Guatemala. Journal of International Social Studies. 6(1), 114-127.

2016  Beth C. Rubin, What social studies can do: Bringing critical civic learning to US social studies classrooms. Social Studies Education Review, 6 (1): 64-782016                         

2016  Deirdre Dougherty and Beth C. Rubin, Learning the colonial past in a colonial present: Students and teachers confront the Spanish conquest in post-conflict Guatemala.  Educational Studies, 52(3), 216-236.

2015  Beth C. Rubin. A time for social studies: Talking with young people about Ferguson and Staten Island. Social Education, 79 (1): 22-29. Reprinted in Social Science Docket, 15 (2): 2-5

2010  Beth C. Rubin and Brian Hayes. “No backpacks” vs. “Drugs and murder”: The promise and complexity of youth civic action research. Harvard Educational Review, 80(3), 149-175.

2010  Beth C. Rubin. “Youth civic identity development in the U.S. history course.” Social Education, 74(3), 144-147.

2009 Beth C. Rubin, Brian Hayes, and Keith Benson, "’It’s the worst place to live’: Urban youth and the challenge of school-based civic learning.” Theory Into Practice, 48(3), 213-221.

2009 Thea Abu El-Haj and Beth C. Rubin, “Realizing the equity-minded aspirations of detracking and inclusion: Toward a capacity-oriented framework for teacher education,” Curriculum Inquiry, 39(3), 435-463.

2008 Beth C. Rubin, “Detracking in context: How local constructions of ability complicate equity-geared reform.” Teachers College Record, 110(3), 647-700.

2007 Beth C. Rubin and Makeba Jones, “Student action research: Reaping the benefits for students and school leaders.” National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin, 91(4), 363-378

2007 Beth C. Rubin, “Learner identities amid figured worlds: Constructing (in)competence at an urban high school.” The Urban Review, 39(2), 217-249.

2007 Beth C. Rubin, “’Laboratories of democracy’: A situated perspective on learning social studies in detracked classrooms.” Theory and Research in Social Education, 35(1), 62-95.

2007 Beth C. Rubin, “’There’s still not justice’: Youth civic identity development amid distinct school and community contexts.” Teachers College Record, 109(2), 449-481.

2006 Beth C. Rubin, “Aware, complacent, discouraged, empowered: Students’ diverse civic identities.” Social Studies Research and Practice, 1(2).

2006 Beth C. Rubin, “Tracking and detracking: Debates, evidence and best practices for a heterogeneous world.” Theory Into Practice, 45(1), 4-14.

2004 Beth C. Rubin and Pedro Noguera, “Tracking detracking: Sorting through the dilemmas and possibilities of detracking in practice.” Equity and Excellence in Education. 37, 92-101. (with Pedro Noguera)

2003 Beth C. Rubin, “Unpacking detracking: When progressive pedagogy meets students’ social worlds.” American Educational Research Journal. 40(2), 539-573.