Crystal Anderson, PhD
Assistant Professor, Education
Program Coordinator, Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Graduate Program
Program Coordinator, Teaching and Learning Graduate Program
Dr. Anderson specializes in a variety of disciplines and programming at all levels of education and in teaching. She earned her bachelor's degree in Sociology from the University of Wyoming, a master’s degree in Teaching and Teacher Education and a doctorate of philosophy also in Teaching and Teacher Education with a concentration in sociocultural studies. In higher education, she teaches graduate courses in Foundations of Education which focus on the history of American schooling, curriculum theory, philosophy and sociology of education, and educational policy. She also teaches social studies methods courses for all grade levels. Prior to higher education, Dr. Anderson has taught subjects such as health education, ethnic studies, social justice education, and in most social studies subjects at the PK-12 level.
In her doctoral research, Dr. Anderson investigated a powerful form of critical pedagogy developed by teachers in the La Raza Studies Program in the Tucson Unified School District. The program became a divisive issue among local residents and eventually throughout the state. The arguments by the teachers rested upon the need for a culturally relevant curriculum that comprehensively revised the subjects of history, literature, and the arts/music that would specifically address students’ cultural and linguistic funds of knowledge. Geared toward Mexican American students who were likely to leave high school in grades 11-12, the program was widely successful in capturing those students from the educational pipeline and redirecting them for high academic achievement and long-term success. However, Arizona residents argued that this program was anti-American and that it pushed a critical race theory agenda for schooling. After years of litigation in the state Supreme Court, the program was forced to end. Dr. Anderson studied rhetoric and discourse during that period of time using a qualitative study grounded in a critical pedagogy framework and with the lens of critical discourse analysis.
In her 18 years of teaching, she’s had opportunities to teach and work with women and children in rural communities in Mexico and Guatemala, as well as in poor and immigrant communities in our southwestern states. These experiences have not only solidified Dr. Anderson’s commitment to human dignity and social justice, but to education as a fundamental human right.
In all areas of teaching, she actively incorporates the curriculum developed by Rethinking Schools, the Brown University Choices Program, Teaching Tolerance, and the Equity Literacy Institute.
In her non-teaching capacities, Dr. Anderson has advised and counseled thousands of students at all ages to help reach their educational goals and to develop life skills to navigate the real world. Her success in building authentic relationships with students is linked to her deeply caring philosophy of education (founded on the work of Nel Noddings). She has also worked in the non-profit sector as a women’s health counselor.
Dr. Anderson is known for her integrity and high intellectual standards for teaching and learning. She is enthusiastic and has a kooky sense of humor. She has roots in both New England and the Southwest and prefers the hot desert climate. She speaks some Spanish and is an emerging gardener. Dr. Anderson also manages ADHD for both herself and her son and is an advocate for destigmatizing mental health care.
Democracy and education, history and philosophy of education, critical theory, critical pedagogy, the educational experiences of Latino students, critical social studies theory