Jill Koyama

Associate Professor in Educational Policy Studies and Practice (EPSP)
College of Education
1430 E. Second Street
Tucson, Arizona 85721

Jill Koyama, an anthropologist, is Associate Professor in Educational Policy Studies and Practice (EPSP) and Teaching Learning and Sociocultural Studies (TLS). She is also an affiliated faculty with Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs in Social, Cultural and Critical Theory and Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT). She received her BS in Botany from the University of Washington and worked as an ethnobotanist with Native American Tribes in the Pacific Northwest before turning her attention to more formal educational contexts. She received her MEd from the University of Washington and her PhD in Anthropology and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Originally from Washington State, Jill has been fortunate to also live in Oregon, New York City, upstate New York, where she was an Assistant Professor at University at Buffalo, SUNY, and now Tucson, Arizona. She currently lives with her partner, Ellen Melamed, and two cats in a Midtown house surrounded by various gardening experiments and emergent art projects.

Jill focuses her ethnographic research lens on the intersections of social inequities and policy.  Her work is situated across three integrated strands of inquiry: the productive social assemblage of policy; the controversies of globalizing educational policy; and the politics of language policy and immigrant and refugee education. For the past six years, Jill’s research has centered on how, even under dire circumstances and inhospitable politics, refugee, asylum seekers, and other newcomers access and create resource-rich networks, make space for themselves and their families, and take civic action in the United States. Such research has led her to challenge notions of global citizenship and interrogate traditional pathways of civic engagement and education. Her current research examines how Latinx youth access, create, and participate in online platforms to take actions on social issues, including LGBTQ rights, gender equality, immigration reform, and environmental sustainability.

In her teaching, Jill gravitates towards activities and discussions aimed at integrating individual’s curiosities and expertise with significantly differing perspectives.  She assigns materials, including recent academic articles, seminal theoretical scholarship, and readings from popular newsprint and online media sources, to encourage students to increase their capacities of analysis, critical synthesis and reflection on broader sociocultural processes of which education is an integral part.  Into each of the graduate courses she teaches, Jill includes modules centered on policies and practices that impact LGBTQ students, teachers, and administrators. Her teaching practice blurs the boundaries between everyday experiences and formal schooling, and she augments classroom lessons with learning opportunities in critical, but less formal, educational settings in which learners are cultural producers rather than passive consumers of knowledge

Her book, Making Failure Pay: High-Stakes Testing, For-Profit Tutoring, and Public Schools, was published in 2010 by The University of Chicago Press. Her work also appears in several journals, including American Journal of Education, Anthropology and Education Quarterly, British Journal of Sociology of Education, Educational Policy, Educational Researcher, Journal of Education Policy, and Urban Review. Her co-edited volume, US Education in a World of Migration: Implications for Policy and Practice was released in March 2014 by Routledge Press. In 2008, Jill Koyama received the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Council on Anthropology and Education. In 2013, she received the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Emerging Scholar Award for Division A. She has just been awarded the 2016 Outstanding Faculty Award by the UA Asian American Faculty, Staff, and Alumni Association.

Jill is committed to being engaged locally and disrupting dominant global discourses through action.  She is a volunteer and an advisory council member at CENTER (Collaborative Engagement to Nurture Talent and Educate Responsively), a refugee hub in downtown Tucson, where refugee youth, their families, and their teachers participate in a variety of educational support programs and become linked to larger social networks. Jill especially enjoys tutoring youth in the sciences and collaborating with them on creative projects. Last spring, they created short digital movies to illuminate how, what, and with whom they learn. Aiming for a broader influence, Jill also writes Op-Eds, often focused on her work with refugees, but also on her experiences as a bicultural Queer feminist. Her work has been featured in the CNN, Reuters, Ms. Magazine, Al Jazeera America, and Huffington Post.

Link to faculty website: https://www.coe.arizona.edu/content/koyama-jill

Photo credit: Jen Ryder