Paula McAvoy earned her PhD in philosophy of education in 2010 at UW-Madison's Department of Educational Policy Studies. Since then, she has worked as an assistant professor at Illinois State, an associate program officer at the Spencer Foundation and as the Director of the Center for Ethics and Education at UW-Madison. Prior to this, she taught high school social studies for 10 years at the Foothill Middle College Program in Los Altos, California.
My research focuses on philosophical and empirical questions concerning the relationship between schools and democratic society. I address two broad questions:
- What educational aims and practices are most appropriate for preparing young people for living within a non-ideal democratic society (e.g. structural inequalities, political polarization)?
- How should teachers and administrators make professional judgments about the dilemmas they face given non-ideal conditions? For example, what ethical challenges do teachers encounter when they engage students in discussions of controversial political issues?
Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies with a minor in Curriculum and Instruction from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010
M.A. in Educational Policy Studies from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006
B.A. in International Relations from University of California Davis in 1991
Selected Scholarly Publications
- McAvoy, P. (2017). Should teachers share their political views in the classroom? In B. Warnick & L. Stone (Eds.), Philosophy: Education. Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 373-383.
- McAvoy, P. (2016). Preparing young adults for polarized America. In Journell, W. (Ed.) Teaching Social Studies in an Era of Divisiveness: The Challenges of Discussing Social Issues in a Non-Partisan Way. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Press, 31-46.
- Hess, D. & McAvoy, P. (2015). The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education. New York: Routledge Press.
- *McAvoy, P. & Hess, D. (2013). Classroom deliberation in an era of political polarization. Curriculum Inquiry 43 (1): 14–47.
- ECI 525: Contemporary Approaches in the Teaching of Social Studies
Honors and Awards
- 2017 Grawemeyer Award in Education for The Political Classroom
- 2016 AERA Outstanding Book Award for The Political Classroom
- 2011 Outstanding Dissertation Award in the Politics of Education, Politics of Education Association
- 2008 Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship
Services and Engagements
- Chair of the AERA SIG: Philosophical Studies in Education (2019-2021)
- Lead Developer of The Discussion Project, a professional development program for faculty. The project is housed within UW-Madison's School of Education.
- Academic Advisory Board member for the Close-up Foundation in Washington D.C.
- The Conversation (2019): "Students should learn about impeachment in school—here’s how to make it work"
- TheLine (2019): "Political discussions in the classroom: What should educators be trying to do?"
- Teaching Tolerance (2016): Polarized classrooms: Understanding political divides can help students learn to bridge them.