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Debbie Sonu

Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Teaching
Office W1112
Office phone: 212-772-5445

Prof. Sonu  holds an Ed.D. and MA degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, an MA from the Center X Teacher Education Program at the University of California, Los Angeles, as well as a BA from the University of California, Berkeley.


Dr. Sonu teaches courses in the Chilhood and Adolescent Education Programs, as well as doctoral courses at the Graduate Center.

  • Social Studies Methods and Curriculum Development in Elementary Education (CEDC 722)
  • Fieldwork in Reading and Social Studies (CEDC 715)
  • Intensive Study of Teaching Diverse Learners in Social Studies: Methods I & II (SEDC 715/215)
  • UrbEd 751: Doctoral Seminar


Debbie Sonu is an Assistant Professor of Education in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Hunter College, City University of New York and doctoral faculty at The Graduate Center. Her research interests include curriculum theory as it relates to urban schooling in the United States, social justice teaching, youth culture, and child studies. She uses qualitative methodologies to examine educational experience, seeking to understand how theories such as poststructuralism can provide alternative explanations for classroom practice. Currently, she is studying the act of forgetting in school and the teaching of difficult knowledge.

Dr. Sonu’s work has been published in Curriculum Inquiry, Journal of Teacher Education, and the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, among others. Her dissertation, …(in)Justice for All?: Brooklyn Youth and the Question of Social Justice, explored youth performances and the complications of teaching for social justice, and received the 2011 Division B Outstanding Dissertation of the Year Award and the 2010 Critical Educators for Social Justice SIG Distinguished Dissertation of the Year Award from the American Educational Research Association (AERA).  

Selected Publications:

Sonu, D. & Snaza, N. (2015). The fragility of ecological pedagogy: Elementary Social Studies standards and possibilities of new materialism, Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy.

 Sonu, D & Hughes, S. (2015). The Youth Cultural Milieu, in M.F. He, B. Schultz & B. Schubert (Eds.), Guide to Curriculum in Education (p. 383-388). New York: Sage.

 Sonu, D. (2015). For the Sake of Diplomacy: The Educational (im)Possibility of Teaching Peace by New York City Elementary School Teachers. In R. Naqvi & R. Smits (Eds.), Framing Peace: Thinking about and Enacting Curriculum as “Radical Hope” (pp. 168-180). New York: Peter Lang.

 Sonu, D. (2013). Friendship, Education, and Justice Teaching: The Professional Development of Two Teacher-Friends, Teaching and Learning: Journal of Natural Inquiry and Reflective Practice, 27(1), p. 19-34.

 Sonu, D. (2012). Illusions of compliance: Performing the public and hidden transcripts of social justice education in neoliberal times, Curriculum Inquiry, 42(2), p. 240-259.

 Sonu, D., Oppenheim, R., Epstein, S. & Agarwal, R. (2012). Taking responsibility: Using positioning  theory to understand who’s responsible for a social justice education, Education, Citizenship, and Social Justice, (7)2, p. 175-189.

 Sonu, D. (2011). Breathing spaces in neoliberal places: An essay review of Peter Taubman´s Teaching By Numbers, Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 27(3), p. 308-316.

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