Brian Charest

Interim Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Assistant Professor, Co-Director of the Center for Educational Justice
School of Education, Department of Teaching and Learning

Photo of Brian Charest

Areas of Expertise

  • Education reform
  • Teacher education
  • Engaged scholarship
  • Education Philosophy
  • Teaching writing
  • DIY Subcultures
  • Justice-oriented education
  • Civic and community engagement
  • Community organizing
  • Grassroots education reform
  • The prison-to-school pipeline
  • Teaching English


Ph.D. University of Illinois at Chicago- Chicago, IL
M.A. Roosevelt University- Chicago, IL, 
M.A. San Francisco State University- San Francisco, CA
B.A. University of California, Santa Cruz- Santa Cruz, CA

For the Media

Contact :
Media Relations


North University Hall
P: 909.748.8933


I'm a former high school teacher. I've taught in both Chicago and Seattle public schools, where I've worked with diverse student populations. Most of my classes as a high school teacher and a university professor have included working in community-based settings. In large part, this is because I believe school and community building are reciprocal, not separate, projects. I also believe that schools work best when they are run democratically and are places where all students feel safe and supported as they pursue the questions that matter most to them. Education for me, is about love, respect, and liberation. What does it mean to be an educated person in a democratic society? This is a fundamental question for all of us to consider. What would schools look like if the goal was to liberate us and push us to reach our fullest potential? Can we imagine schools as spaces that support and encourage creativity, kindness, collaboration, and freedom?


Areas of Expertise & Academic Interests

Community and civic engagement

Democratic education

Participatory democracy

Experiential education

Education philosophy

The school-to-prison pipeline

Community organizing

Community revitalization

Research & Professional Highlights

Teaching the Inside-Out course in the San Bernardino Juvenile has been a professional high point for me. Working with young people who want to change the way we think about schooling, discipline, and justice reminds me why we need to provide young people with opportunities to participate in making decisions about their lives and their communities. Here's a link to the story they did in Och Tamale:

Developing and participating in the Cuba Study Away course, Education, Revolution, and Social Justice, was also a high point for me.

The two books that I've worked on in the last three years have been the research highlights for me.

Degrees Held/ Licensures

Ph.D., English Education, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, 2013
M.A., Special Education, Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL, 2005
M.A., English, San Francisco State University, 2001
B.A., English, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1995


Charest, B. (In Press). Disorganizing Schools: How to Revive Our Democracy, Revitalize Our Communities, and Reorganize Our Schools. New York: Teachers College Press.

Charest, B. & Sjostrom, K. (Eds.). 2019. Unsettling education: Finding ethical footing in a time of reform. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Charest, B. (2019). Navigating the shores: Troubling notions of teacher as researcher. International Journal of Critical Pedagogy.

Lalas, J., Charest, B., Strikwerda, H., & Ordaz, M. (2019). Nurturing hope, belonging, and engagement through Equity. In Forlin, C. & Scorgie, K. (Eds.) Promoting social inclusion: Co-creating environments that foster equity and belonging. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing.

Charest, B. (2018, March 23). In defense of civic engagement in schools. [Ethical ELA]. Retrieved from;

Charest, B. C. (2017). The way it’s going: Neoliberal reforms and the colonization of the American school. In D. Loveless, P. Sullivan, K. Dredger, & J. Burns (Eds.), Deconstructing the education-industrial complex in the digital age (Ch. 1, pp. 1-23). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Charest, B. C. (2014, July). Ecological schooling: Questions, curriculum, and the power of place. Journal of Language and Literacy Education [Online]. Retrieved from

Charest, B.C., Bell, L.D., Gonzalez, M., & Parker, V.L. (2014). Turning schools inside out: Connecting schools and communities through public arts and literacies. Journal of Language and Literacy Education [Online], 10(1), 188-203. Retrieved from

Miller, S., Williamson, P., George, M., King, J., Charest, B., Bieler, D., & Bolf-Beliveau, L. (2011). Applying the CEE Position Statement "Beliefs about Social Justice in English Education" to Classroom Praxis. English Education, 44(1), 63-82. Retrieved from

Charest, B. C. (2011) Toward a theory and practice of radical pragmatism. In B. J. Porfilio and H. Hickman (Eds.), Critical service-learning as revolutionary pedagogy (pp. 297-314). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Press.

Peer-refereed Conferences and Presentations:
“Running the Course of Dissent: A Dialogue on Pedagogy, Politics, and Ethics.” ASA Conference, Chicago, IL, November 2017

“Toward a New Social Order: Voices of Students and Prisoners in the Era of Mass Incarceration.” NCTE Conference, St. Louis, MO, November 2017.

“Acts of Knowing: Ethical Commitments in the English Classroom.” CEE Conference, Columbus, OH, June 2017

“From Advocates to Accomplices: New Pragmatism(s) for the Age of Reform.” NCTE Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA, November 2016.

“Through Choice of Action: (Re)Visionary Pragmatisms for the Age of Accountability.” AESA Annual Conference, Seattle, WA, November 2016. (designated a Reviewers’ Choice Session)

“The Way It’s Going: Neoliberalism and the Colonization of the American Public
School.” NCTE Annual Conference, Minneapolis, MN, November, 2015.

“Turning Schools Inside Out: Teacher Voices, Community Engagement, and Intentional Relationship Building.” JoLLE Annual Conference, Athens, GA, February, 2014.

“The Making of Citizen Teachers: Community Organizing and Engagement in Teacher Education.” NCTE Annual Conference, Boston, MA, November, 2013.

“Learning as a Way of Teaching: Perspectives on Teaching Methods.” CEE Conference, Fort Collins, CO. July, 2013.

“Honoring Experience, Imaging Alternatives: Pedagogical Possibilities in English
Education.” NCTE Annual Conference, Las Vegas, NV, November, 2012.

“The Future is Now: Connecting with the Next Generation of English Teacher
Educators.” NCTE Annual Conference, Las Vegas, NV, November, 2012.

“Civic Literacy and Community Engagement: Teacher Education, Community
Organizing, and Neoliberal Mandates.” To Learn and To Serve: Critical Service-
Learning Initiatives and Community Engagement Conference, Columbus, OH, October, 2012.

“Authorizing Ourselves to Act: Teachers, Community Organizing, and School Reform.” NCTE Annual Conference, Chicago, IL, November, 2011.

“A Responsibility to Act: Preservice Teachers Organizing for Change.” NCTE Annual Conference, Chicago, IL, November, 2011. Chair.

"Troubling Pre-Service Intersections: Uncertainty and Anxiety in English Education.” NAME Conference. Chicago, IL, November, 2011.

“Community Organizing, Collaborative Action, and Teacher Education.” CEE
Conference. Bronx, NY, June, 2011. “Radical Pragmatism and the English Methods Course: Exploring What Counts as Curriculum.” NCTE Annual Conference, Orlando, FL, November, 2010.

“Radical Pragmatism and the English Methods Course: Critical Frameworks, Student Resistance, and Community Partnerships.” International Conference on Teacher Education and Social Justice, Chicago, IL, December 2009.

“Building a Curriculum of Possibility: A Reflection on Partnership.” NCTE Annual
Conference, Philadelphia, PA, November 2009

“Re-thinking Service Learning: Civic Engagement as School-Based Activism.” CEE Conference, Chicago, IL, June 2009.

“Toward a Theory of Radical Pragmatism: A Story of School-Based Activism.” NCTE Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX, November, 2008.

“Implementing Service-Learning Throughout the District.” National Service-Learning Conference, Albuquerque, NM, March, 2007.

“Strategies for Implementing a School-Wide Service Learning Program: An Urban
Example of Student and Teacher Engagement.” 3rd Annual Urban Service-Learning Institute, Nashville, TN, 2006.

Professional Affiliations, Societies & Memberships

National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)

National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME)

American Studies Association (ASA)


Global Impact Faculty Award; Faculty Research Grant, 2020/2021

Chancellor’s Service Award, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2013

Teacher of the Year (presented by the South Side Chamber of Commerce), 2007

Service Learning Coach of the Year (presented by the Chicago Public Schools Office of High School Programs), 2007

Social media, web links, YouTube channel, etc.;