Alum and future faculty member Stovall wins AERA Dissertation Award

Jessica Stovall has received the 2024 Dissertation Award from the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) Critical Educators for Social Justice special interest group. 


The Dissertation Award recognizes doctoral-level research that utilizes critical theory and critical methodologies. Stovall’s winning dissertation is titled, “‘We’re part of something way bigger’: The transformative potential of Black teacher fugitive space.” 

Stovall earned a BS in secondary education at UW–Madison in 2007, and will be returning to the School of Education as a faculty member in fall 2024. While her main faculty home will be with the Department of African American Studies, she will also be an affiliate in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

“My dissertation research explores how Black-affirming professional development impacts Black teacher retention and pedagogy,” says Stovall.

She adds: “I examine how Black people create spaces for their learning and growth despite working in anti-Black climates… I conducted a longitudinal examination of how Black teachers co-create what I theorize as a Black teacher fugitive space and how this fugitive space informs and supports their pedagogies and navigation of antiblackness at their school sites.”

Stovall’s work was selected because of its “vital ethnographic inquiry that propels us to examine the need for fugitive spaces for Black teachers in a climate of education fraught with anti-Blackness.” She will be recognized for her work at AERA’s annual meeting in April.

“Studying fugitive spaces helps us understand the conditions under which Black people can thrive,” Stovall says, “and in the case of education, how Black teachers remain in the teaching profession despite anti-Black climates.”

According to Critical Educators for Social Justice, “Stovall’s dissertation helps move the needle forward and reminds us of a healing-centered avenue to take when faced with such hostility to this nation’s truth, past and present.”

Stovall is working to publish her dissertation as a book. For this reason the text is currently under embargo.

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