headshot photo of Dr. Miguel Zavala

Dr. Miguel Zavala

Associate Professor
Attallah College of Educational Studies
Expertise: Action-research; Decolonizing Methodologies; Ethnographies of learning; Qualitative Research
Office Location: Reeves Hall 10-C
Scholarly Works:
Digital Commons
University of California, Los Angeles, Bachelor of Arts
Cornell University, Master of Science
University of California, Los Angeles, Ph.D.


Miguel Zavala, Ph.D., is Associate Professor and teacher educator in the Attallah College of Educational Studies at Chapman University. His research interests center on learning across boundaries, decolonizing and Freirean pedagogies, critical literacies, and their intersection in social movements.  His most recent work involves working with teachers, youth, and parents using ethnic studies and participatory action research as resources for apprenticeship into community organizing. He is a secretary/treasurer of the Paulo Freire SIG of the American Educational Research Association, board member of the Paulo Freire Democratic Project (PFDP), and co-president of the California Chapter for the National Association for Multicultural Education (CA-NAME).  His forthcoming book is entitled Raza Struggle and the Movement for Ethnic Studies (Peter Lang, 2018). He is co-editor with Christine Sleeter, Wayne Au, and Tolteka Cuauhtin of Rethinking Ethnic Studies (Rethinking Schools, 2018), a collection of teaching resources for Ethnic Studies educators.


Miguel Zavala worked in the Los Angeles Unified School District for six years, in some of the most neglected urban areas of Los Angeles. He taught English and Social Studies at the middle school level and English at high school level. For the past eight summers, Dr. Zavala has been teaching social science, writing, and ethnic studies in alternative programs that seek to empower urban and migrant high school students.

Recent Creative, Scholarly Work and Publications

Zavala, M. (Forthcoming Fall 2018). Raza Struggle and the Movement for Ethnic Studies: Decolonial Pedagogies, Literacies, and Methodologies. New York: Peter Lang.
Riechel, A. & Zavala, M. (in press). Genocide of Native Californians role-play: an interview with Aimee Riechel. In Rethinking Ethnic Studies. Seattle, WA: Rethinking Schools.
Zavala, M., Henning, N. & Gallagher-Geurtsen (in press). Ethnic Studies: 10 Common Misconceptions. In Rethinking Ethnic Studies. Seattle, WA: Rethinking Schools.
Zavala, M. (2018). Raza communities organizing against a culture of war: Lessons from the Education Not Arms Coalition (ENAC) campaign. In Arshad Ali & Traci Buenavista (Eds.). At War! Challenging Racism, Materialism, and Militarism in Education. New York: Fordham University Press.
Zavala, M. (2018). Toward a Raza research methodology: Social science in the service of Raza communities. In Peter McLaren & Suzanne SooHoo (Eds.), The Radical Imagine-Nation. New York: Peter Lang.
Zavala, M., Sleeter, C., Citiahui, T. & Au, W. (Eds.) (Forthcoming Fall 2018). Rethinking Ethnic Studies. Seattle, WA: Rethinking Schools.
Kumashiro, K., Sleeter, C., Zavala, M. (2018). Ethnic Studies and Critical Multicultural Education: Educating for Democracy in California and Beyond. California Alliance of Researchers for Equity in Education. Retrieved from http://www.careed.org
Philip, T. M., Jurow, A. S., Vossoughi, S., Bang, M., & Zavala, M. (2017). The Learning Sciences in a New Era of US Nationalism. COGNITION AND INSTRUCTION, 35(2), 91-102.
Zavala, M., Colon-Muñiz, & Herzog, A. (2017). Centro Comunitario de Educación: Research brief. Attallah College of Educational Studies.
Zavala, M. & Tran, N.A. (2016). Negotiating identities, locations, and creating spaces of hope for advancing students of color in university settings. In Santamaría, L. & Santamaría, A. (Eds.), Culturally Responsive Leadership in Higher Education: Promoting Equity, Access, and Improvement. New York: Routledge.
Zavala, M. & Golden, A. N. (2016). Prefiguring alternative worlds: Organic critical literacies and socio-cultural revolutions. Knowledge Cultures.
Zavala, M. (2016). Design, participation, and social change: What design in grassroots spaces can teach learning scientists. Curriculum & Instruction.
Fuentes, R., Villon, A., & Zavala, M. (2016). Community leadership together with teacher-led efforts: Making ethnic studies possible at El Rancho Unified School District. XChange, Series Number: IP-WP-X052.
Zavala, M. (2017). Decolonial Methodologies in Education. In M.A. Peters (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory. Singapore: Springer.
Zavala, M. & Hipolito, E. (Eds.) (2016). Ethnic Studies K-12, UCLA XChange.
Zavala, M. (2015). From voicing to naming to re-humanization. In Sameul Totten (Ed.), The Importance of Teaching Social Issues: Our Pedagogic Creed. New York: Routledge.
Zavala, M. (2015). Michael Apple: Neo-Marxist analyst of schooling, the curriculum, and education policy. In Samuel Totten & Jon Pederson (Eds.), Educating About Social Issues in the 20th and 21st Centuries: Critical Pedagogues and their Pedagogical Theories, Volume 4. Charolette, NC: Information Age Publishing.
Zavala, M., Peréz, P., González, A., & Diaz-Villela, A. (2015). Con respeto: a conceptual model for building healthy community-university partnerships alongside Mexicana/o migrant families. Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis.
Philip, T. M. & Zavala, M. (2015). The possibilities of being “critical”: discourses that limit options for educators of color. Urban Education 51(6), 659 – 682.
Zavala, M. (2013). What do we mean by decolonizing research strategies? Lessons from decolonizing, indigenous research projects in New Zealand and Latin America. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 2(1), 55 – 71.
Zavala, M. (2013). Organizing against the neo-liberal privatization in South Los Angeles: Reflections on the transformative potential of grassroots research. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing 29(2).
Tran, N. A. & Zavala, M. (2012). Counterpoint. Is full-service community school useful in furthering equitable educational opportunity among majority-minority school populations? In C. J. Russo and A. G. Osborne (Eds.), Debating Issues in American Education. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.
Zavala, M. (2011). Grassroots student organizing against colonial education: interview with Ya Basta Youth Coalition. Regeneración, the Association of Raza Educators Journal, 2(1), 22 – 24. Los Angeles, CA: Association of Raza Educators Press.
Zavala, M. (2011). Rethinking the role of the state alongside a reassessment of strategies to school reform. Teachers College Record, online repository. August 29, 2011.