Virtual Mindful Explorations Series: Noted scholar-writer will speak on equality for middle school youth on October 8

Be prepared to expand your educational perspectives during the first Mindful Explorations Series event of this school year.

Boni Wozolek, Ph.D., is a nationally-honored scholar and writer on equality and oppression in education. She will give a virtual presentation at 7 p.m. Thursday, October 8, on  IU East Facebook Live. The public is invited to watch the discussion for free.

Boni Wozolek standing next books shelved

Boni Wozolek, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Penn State University-Abington. She will present on her recent book, Assemblages of Violence in Education: Everyday Trajectories of Oppression, as part of IU East’s Mindful Explorations series. The virtual discussion will be presented on IU East’s Facebook Live.

The talk is sponsored by the School of Education and Mindful Explorations, courtesy of the William H. and Jean R. Reller Endowment. Presented by First Bank Richmond.

Wozolek is an expert on discussing uncomfortable subjects, and on shedding light on possible pathways to change, says former colleague Jamie Buffington-Adams, associate dean of IU East’s School of Education.

“Dr. Wozolek is a scholar that stretches you,” Buffington-Adams said. “She routinely asks you to see things from new or different perspectives, and I have come to deeply value her thinking as something which challenges and enhances my own.”

Wozolek works as an assistant professor at Penn State University-Abington.

Her biography lists an extensive record of research, writing and awards, on subjects that examine social justice, qualitative research methods, and teaching practices that focus on the race, sexual orientations, and gender identities in schools. Wozolek has three forthcoming publications: an edited book on Black Lives Matter in Education with SUNY Press and a co-edited book on emancipatory practices in education with Brill, and a solo-authored book titled Assemblages of Violence in Education: Everyday Trajectories of Oppression that will provide the basis for her Mindful Explorations talk.

Assemblages of Violence in Education is a groundbreaking text that brings together fields including new materialisms, anthropology, curriculum theory, and educational foundations to examine how violence is intertwined with everyday events and ideas.

While the book weaves participant narratives in two contexts that exist a literal world apart — queer middle school youth of color in an urban context and Indian women who have survived domestic violence — this talk will mainly focus on Wozolek’s work with queer middle school youth to conceptualize how social justice functions in opposition to normalized aggressions.

Often overlooked, these deeply significant connections document how multiplicities of aggression operate as business-as-usual in a variety of spaces and places, including those that are often thought of as helpful. To these ends, this talk delves into how assemblages become entwined, focusing on how affects move in, through, and across such entanglements in order to more clearly perceive both where and how violence is embedded in and between socio-political and cultural ways of being, knowing, and doing. In so doing, Assemblages of Violence argues that pathologizing trajectories of violence can provide theoretical and methodological tools for those seeking to engage in a pedagogy of equity, access, and care to help people and communities in ways they wish to be helped.

“This is a very timely topic and we are very much looking forward to Dr. Wozolek’s presentation,” says Jerry Wilde, dean of the School of Education. “(Her) work focuses on helping disenfranchised students in our schools and that is something that should be very near and dear to the hearts of every educator. Schools are part of a larger social system and Dr. Wozolek’s work helps us understand how that system may not represent all populations equally.”

Buffington-Adams said the discussion is important for educators, but it is a message of value across the community.

“Dr. Wozolek’s work has always brought voice to those who we tend to hear least but perhaps need to hear most,” Buffington-Adams said. “This new book is no different, and while it focuses on issues within education, it applies across the many systems in our society which still function in ways that leave people out and leave them without a voice. We are delighted to host her and to bring her insights to those in our communities who seek to create more just and equitable futures by understanding what is currently broken.”

Wozolek was a guest on the Jabbedu Education Podcast on September 14. She addressed a variety of topics, including bringing equity and access to classrooms, acknowledging and checking biases, and learning to listen deeply, especially as an authority figure.

She is the recipient of the 2012 James T. Sears Award for her paper The Nested Nature of M/othering: Complicating Curriculum Conversations, a 2016 Outstanding Dissertation Recognition Award from Division B (Curriculum Studies) of the American Educational Research Association, and is a 2018 inductee into Kent State University’s Hall of Fame for her work with marginalized populations.

In addition to her numerous articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries, Wozolek has a special forum with GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, and a forthcoming special issue with the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education with David Lee Carlson at Arizona State University.

“When I think across the arc of Dr. Wozolek’s contributions, I am reminded that difficult knowledge is also necessary knowledge,” Buffington-Adams said. “It is not easy, nor should it be, to pull back the cover from and begin to understand the injustices which exist in our communities and which we risk perpetuating unknowingly.  However, identifying those dangers is the first step in a better direction, and in the years I’ve known Dr. Wozolek, her work has routinely shed light on the paths we might choose. I am excited to see where her latest project has led her and consequently us.”