“My research is broad and kind of dispersed,” said Wayne Au, a professor in the University of Washington Bothell's School of Educational Studies. “But it’s all in one big basket.”
Au focuses his attention primarily on how politics, power and social justice play out in education.
“Sometimes I’m writing about cultural education. These days I’m doing more around ethnic studies. I also do a lot on policy,” said Au, who considers it his role as a public intellectual to share his research and knowledge.
Two fundamental ways in which he does that are through his teaching and his books.
In fall quarter, for example, Au taught Education and Equity in the U.S., one of the core courses for the Bachelor of Arts in educational studies. It surveys how public education has dealt with race, class, gender equity, LGBTQ and disability issues.
To make the information he presents in his classes more engaging for students, Au uses group work, class discussions, role-playing and simulations.
“I want my students to feel what we’re learning in stronger ways than if I just talked to them about it for four hours a week,” Au said. “I’m interested in having courses that can connect what we’re doing in class to their lives and experiences to help them make meaning, because that’s how we learn.”
Au is also currently working on three books scheduled for publication in 2018: “Teaching for Black Lives,” “Rethinking Ethnic Studies,” and “A Marxist Education: Teaching to Change the World.”
“Teaching for Black Lives” offers teaching perspectives on issues around Black Lives Matter. Au is a co-editor with Dyan Watson and Jesse Hagopian. The book is expected to be published by Rethinking Schools in the spring.
“A Marxist Education: Teaching to Change the World” is a collection of Au’s essays on education, Marxist theory and reflections on life. The book is expected to be published by Haymarket in the summer.
“Rethinking Ethnic Studies” suggests ways race, ethnicity and culture could be part of a high school curriculum. Au is co-editor with Tolteka Cuahatin, Miguel Zavala and Christine Sleeter. The book is expected to be published by Rethinking Schools in the fall.
“I stay busy,” said Au, who also chairs the UW Bothell Diversity Council and serves on the UW-wide diversity council.