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Dr. Liesa Griffin Smith

Curriculum studies doctoral graduate launches book

Monday, August 16, 2021

Media Contact: Rachel Eng | Marketing and Communications Manager | 405-744-8320 | rachel.eng@okstate.edu

Dr. Liesa Griffin Smith, who earned her doctorate in Curriculum Studies from the Oklahoma State University School of Teaching, Learning and Educational Sciences in 2019, recently published her doctoral dissertation as a book titled “Curriculum as Community Building: The Poetics of Difference, Emergence and Relationality.”

“It’s a beautiful rendering of making possible new imaginations of community and community building in the midst of difference, complexity and difficulty,” said Dr. Hongyu Wang, OSU professor of curriculum studies. 

The book launch was organized and hosted by world-renowned curriculum theorist Dr. William F. Pinar at the University of British Columbia this summer via Zoom. Curriculum leaders, scholars, students and panelists from across the U.S. and Canada joined to ask questions and offer insight, including: Dr. Jacqueline Bach from Louisiana State University; Dr. Kiera Brant-Birioukov from York University; Dr. Brian Casemore from George Washington University; Dr. Janet Miller from Teachers College, Columbia University; and Dr. Naomi Pointexter from OSU.

“Your writing explores with such poetic resonance and depth some of the most challenging questions about being human and curriculum studies that, in the face of profound difficulty, enables us to thrive,” Casemore commented.

The event brought international attention to Dr. Smith as well as the OSU curriculum studies program, which addresses fundamental issues in education through an interdisciplinary lens.

“What an impressive display of intelligence, erudition and professionalism this event was,” Pinar said. “It was a testimony to Dr. Smith’s achievement, and to Oklahoma State University’s curriculum studies program led by Professor Hongyu Wang. My congratulations to Dr. Smith, Dr. Wang and to Oklahoma State University.”

For Smith, it was an invigorating opportunity to connect and engage.

“My experience in the OSU curriculum studies program was one of meaningful learning and rich interconnection, and the book launch extends and enacts my doctoral experience in notable ways,” Smith said. “It was such a privilege to open this meaningful space of conversation with other scholars in the field of curriculum studies to discuss the new ideas of community and community building I explore in my book.

"The international book launch underscored for me how essential it is for us to open spaces in which we can imagine together new possibilities for experiencing togetherness as we grapple with the continuing realities of the pandemic, the unfinished social and political events from the past year and other human experiences where community is yet unrealized.”

Smith currently serves as lead principal for Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences, where she embraces the poetics of difference in community building and explores the emergence of invitational spaces expressed by this book. Ultimately, she believes that teaching and learning spaces are unique environments where it may be possible to face challenges with creativity, humanity and hope.

Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences will host a local launch of Smith’s book in late September. The event will be free and open to the public.

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