Zheng receiving Graduate Student Award from AERA Critical Issues in Cultural Studies SIG

UW-Madison’s Lei Zheng, a Ph.D. student with the School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, will receive the Graduate Student Award from the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) Critical Issues in Cultural Studies special interest group (SIG).

Lei Zheng

Zheng, who defended her thesis in January and will graduate this May, received her bachelor degree in history from Nanjing University and a master of arts degree in curriculum studies from East China Normal University.

Zheng explains that her research weaves science and technology studies (STS) and political geography with curriculum studies. This work analyzes how different infrastructures — such as mass media, school curriculum, intergovernmental agenda, and academic research — are historically constructed to translate sciences of control into social control through pedagogical space.

Zheng’s research provides an alternative way for social scientists and policymakers to be aware of and accountable to the historical boundaries that circumscribe their intervention of social change that is often justified in the name of progress and justice. Her dissertation works on the performative histories of rationalizing U.S. STEM education reform.

Zheng’s research has appeared in edited volumes such as “Critical Analysis of Education Reforms in an era of Transnational Governance” and journals like Discourse: Studies in the Politics of Education. Her work is also being translated into Spanish for publication in the journal Historia de la Educación in June, 2020.

AERA reviewers felt that Zheng’s research “posed important and intriguing considerations for the field, and that it provided an examination that is much-needed, especially given STEM’s prevalence and intensity.” Her research being recognized is titled, “Can problem-solving be problematized: performative phantasmagrams of crisis in U.S. STEM education reform.”

Zheng’s advisor is Professor Tom Popkewitz of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

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