Joseph J. Ferrare

Joseph Ferrare

Assistant Professor

B.A., Political Science, Iowa State University
M.A., Political Science, University of Connecticut
Ph.D., Curriculum Theory and Research Methods, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Office: UW2-212
Email: jferrare@uw.edu
Website: www.josephferrare.com

My scholarly interests center on education policy and research methods. I primarily focus my work on the enduring social inequalities that define our education system and the role of public policy in shaping these patterns. A major part of this project involves identifying research methods capable of modeling and visualizing the complex processes through which social inequalities in education are created and changed.


I offer courses in the areas of research methods (e.g., statistics, social network analysis, research design), data visualization, and education policy. In all of these courses, I understand the classroom as a space where people can directly engage with each other to challenge and revise their prior assumptions through an ongoing juxtaposition of ideas and concepts. This requires putting everything on the table for scrutiny and learning to be comfortable with the tension that arises when ideas and concepts come into conflict.

I see my primary role in the classroom as fostering relationships with and between students and the key problems covered in the course. These relationships are necessary to build trust, challenge assumptions, and establish mutual accountability, which together serve as the basis by which we can legitimately push each other to take the intellectual risks necessary for meaningful growth.

Recent Courses Taught

BIS 232: Visualizing Quantitative Data
BIS 315: Understanding Statistics
BPOLST 594: Research Design


I am currently involved in three research projects examining different aspects of education policy. The first is a collaboration with colleagues from University of Kentucky and University of Notre Dame in which we are estimating the impacts of Indiana’s school choice policies (charter schools, vouchers, magnets) on a variety of outcomes including school discipline, high school graduation, and college enrollment and persistence. In this project, special attention is given to investigating whether these policies differentially impact economically and racially marginalized students. The second project is a longitudinal study of first-generation college-going (FG) students. The primary objective is to understand how FG students create and utilize social capital as they transition from high school to college and from college into the labor market. Finally, I am involved in a set of collaborative projects examining the networks of private organizations that are financing and implementing market-based policies in education, principally as it relates to the role of wealthy elites, their philanthropic foundations, and the intermediary organizations these private foundations fund.

I view the different facets of my research as fundamentally linked to a broader, long-term project of learning if and how our public institutions can be more responsive to the structures and narratives that sustain various forms of inequity in society. This project rests on the theoretical assumption that educational experiences and outcomes – and the policy-making processes that influence them – take shape through a dynamic interplay between social networks, cultural sense-making practices, bureaucratic governance structures, and markets. These assumptions necessarily lead me to a mixed set of methodological approaches, including social network analysis, field-based methods, and causal modeling. A key component of this work involves the use of data visualization techniques that foreground the complexities of social dynamics in education and the flow of resources through policy networks across geographic space.

Selected Publications

Galey, Sarah, Sarah Reckhow, Joseph J. Ferrare and Lorien Jansy. Accepted. “Building Consensus: Idea Brokerage in Teacher Policy Networks.” American Educational Research Journal.

Ferrare, Joseph J. and Julia Miller. In Press. “Making Sense of Persistence in Scientific Purgatory: A Multi-Institutional Analysis of Instructors in Introductory STEM Courses.” The Journal of Higher Education. OnlineFirst:1-26.

Lee, You-Geon and Joseph J. Ferrare. In press. “Finding One’s Place or Losing the Race? The Consequences of STEM Departure for College Dropout and Degree Completion.” The Review of Higher Education.

Ferrare, Joseph J. 2019. “Charter School Outcomes.” Pp. 160-173 in Handbook of Research on School Choice (2nd Edition), edited by M. Berends, A. Primus, and M. G. Springer. New York, NY: Routledge.

Ferrare, Joseph J. 2019. “Embedding Networks in Fields: Toward an Expanded Model of Relational Analysis in Education.” In Relational Sociology and Research on Schools, Colleges and Universities, edited by W. G. Tierney and S. Kolluri. New York, NY: SUNY Press.

Ferrare, Joseph J. and R. Renee Setari. 2018. “Converging on Choice: The Inter-State Flow of Foundation Dollars to Charter School Organizations.” Educational Researcher 47(1):34-45.

Ferrare, Joseph J. 2016. “Intergenerational Education Mobility Trends by Race and Gender in the United States.” AERA Open 2(4):1-17.

Ferrare, Joseph J. and Katherine Reynolds. 2016. “Has the Elite Foundation Agenda Spread Beyond the Gates? An Organizational Network Analysis of Non-Major Philanthropic Giving in K12 Education.” American Journal of Education 123(1): 137-169.

Au, Wayne and Joseph J. Ferrare (eds.). 2015. Mapping Corporate Education Reform: Power and Policy Networks in the Neoliberal State. New York: Routledge.

Ferrare, Joseph J. and Matthew T. Hora. 2014. “Cultural Models of Teaching and Learning in Math and Science: Exploring the Intersections of Culture, Cognition, and Pedagogical Situations.” The Journal of Higher Education 85(6):792-825.

Au, Wayne and Joseph J. Ferrare. 2014. “Sponsors of Policy: A Network Analysis of Wealthy Elites, their Affiliated Philanthropies, and Charter School Reform in Washington State.” Teachers College Record 116(8):1-24, www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17387.

Ferrare, Joseph J. 2013. “The Duality of Courses and Students: A Field-Theoretic Analysis of Secondary School Course-Taking.” Sociology of Education 86(2):139-157.