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Nancy Ares

Associate Professor

Teaching & Curriculum

PhD, Auburn University (educational psychology)
BS, The University of Arizona (ecology and evolutionary biology)


Nancy Ares joined the Warner School in 2003 to teach doctoral-level courses in learning and teaching theories and research methods, as well as master’s-level courses in adolescent development; race, class, gender and disability in American education; and educational equity in global contexts. She has taught at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels, and coordinated academic support programs for underrepresented and migrant students. Her primary concentration in teaching is in addressing power, culture, class, and privilege as central issues in educational research and practice. To that end, she explores social constructivist and critical approaches with students to pose problems and investigate solutions.

Ares conducts research using critical geography and sociocultural theories as frameworks for investigating classroom and community practices. This research focuses on social and spatial practices that shape participation, how structures and activity are mutually constituted, and how power and roles are negotiated through social interaction. Her work in formal and informal settings emphasizes resource-rich approaches to understanding school and community transformation. She is committed to bridging multiple theoretical and methodological perspectives in studying learning, teaching, and culture as complex phenomena.

Her work has been published in the American Educational Research JournalAnthropology & Education Quarterly, Teachers College RecordCognition & Instruction, International Journal of Computer Supported Collaborative LearningJournal of Literacy ResearchInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, and Mathematical Thinking and Learning.

She is the author and editor (with Edward Buendía and Robert Helfenbein) of Deterritorializing/Reterritorializing: Critical Geography of Educational Reform (Sense, 2017); and Youth-full Productions: Cultural Practices and Constructions of Content and Social Spaces (Lang, 2009). She is also co-author, with Edward Buendía, of the book Geographies of Difference: The Social Production of the East Side, West Side, and Central City School (Lang, 2006).

She is currently conducting a multi-year case study that focuses on community-based standards for school-aged children’s learning and development in a Children’s Defense Fund-sponsored Freedom School (FS) summer program provided by North East Area Development (NEAD), a not-for-profit in upstate NY. This community-based participatory research is aimed at disrupting academic and social structures that maintain social, academic, and economic inequities. Ares and her community collaborators are working to 1) identify ways that forms of community cultural wealth (CCW) manifest in a FS summer program, and 2) understand the relationship between CCW and FS staffs’ criteria for students’ social and academic learning.