Meredith Madden holds a doctorate from Syracuse University School of Education’s Cultural Foundations of Education program. She is the founder and manager of The Equity Prof LLC, which delivers professional learning and development on a range of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice matters through a social justice framework. Through The Equity Prof, she works with in-service educators and administrators to develop their literacies, philosophies, curricula, and pedagogical praxis and consults on DEI initiatives.
Madden is also Assistant Professor of Education at Utica University, where she prepares pre-service educators through course instruction on foundations of education, culturally responsive sustaining education, and curriculum and instruction.
Describe your current roles and its responsibilities.
Each day I actively work to embrace and actionize my social responsibilities to society. Across my career, I have centered my commitments to racial and social justice education with a focus on K-12 public education spaces, as well as higher education.
I am constantly writing! I recently published the college guide Dear Students: 10 Letters to Empower and Transform Your Higher Education Journey (Peter Lang, 2023), which shares intentional know-hows for navigating college on topics such as community, relationship building, agency, and voice.
As an educational researcher, I put my commitments to racial and social justice education in writing. Also recently, I co-authored (with fellow SOE alumna Kimberly Williams Brown G’17 and Colette N. Cann) Rise for Racial Justice: How to Talk About Race with Schools and Communities (Teachers College Press, 2022).
How did the School of Education prepare you for this role?
SOE’s Cultural Foundations of Education program was instrumental in preparing me for my roles as a consultant, educator, and publicly engaged scholar.
The School—and specifically The Intergroup Dialogue Program—created a space for me to examine my own educational life and create spaces for students to examine their lives. I gained extensive content knowledge while also gaining dialogic pedagogy skills that are at the center of my facilitation of all topics.
I also had an intensive research apprenticeship under the supervision of Professor Gretchen Lopez that resulted in my first article publication and set me on my educational research journey.
What current trends do you see in your specialty and how are you addressing them?
There is a call for teachers in today’s schools to engage in topics on identity and education. To be prepared to do this, teacher preparation programs must examine the ways they are preparing pre-service educators to meet the needs of all students in all classrooms.
At Utica University, I saw a gap in the curriculum on preparing teachers in this way. With the full support of my administration, I created and will teach in fall 2023 a course on Culturally Responsive Sustaining Education. The inclusion of the course as a mandatory requirement, not an elective, is important for making structural changes to the educator preparation program and more fully preparing pre-service teachers for the classrooms they will soon lead.
Which professors stood out for you most as a student at SOE?
The entire Cultural Foundations of Education program collectively shaped me as an agent of social change in education. Students are the legacy of the faculty. I am the legacy of many, but it is Professor Lopez whose commitment to me as a whole student has completely changed my life.
Professor Lopez’s generosity as my doctoral advisor, research apprenticeship advisor, and mentor have positioned me to put her teachings in action in ways that positively impact the students I now teach across higher education and public spaces. She modeled what it means to put the work at the center. She is a connector and creates spaces that dismantle inequitable barriers and give liberatory space for her students to step into their power and claim their education and their lives.
Make a pitch for SOE—why should a prospective student choose the School of Education?
Faculty matter. SOE’s faculty are renowned for their teaching, research, and community partnerships. They model what former SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor named “Scholarship in Action.” In doing so, they prepare their students for lives of profound impact on today’s schools and communities.