Distinguished University Scholar and Professor

arts based educational research
self study


Rita L. Irwin is a Distinguished University Scholar and Professor of Art Education and Curriculum Studies and former Associate Dean of Teacher Education and Head, Department of Curriculum Studies at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Rita received her formal education at the University of Lethbridge (B. Ed. and Diploma), the University of Victoria (M.Ed.) and the University of British Columbia (Ed.D.). Rita has been an educational leader for a number of provincial, national and international organizations including being President of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education, Canadian Association of Curriculum Studies, Canadian Society for Education through Art, International Society for Education through Art and Chair of the World Alliance for Arts Education.

Her research interests have spanned in-service art education, teacher education, socio-cultural issues, and curriculum practices across K-12 and informal learning settings.  Rita publishes widely, exhibits her artworks, and has secured a range of research grants, including a number of Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada grants to support her work in Canada, as well as internationally in Australia, China, Japan, Kenya, Spain and Taiwan.  She is best known for her work in a/r/tography that expands how we might imagine and conduct arts practice- based research methodologies through collaborative and community-based collectives. She is very proud of how collected works and edited volumes have been translated into Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, and Turkish, with other works translated into Spanish, French, German, and among other languages. Several of her best known edited books are:  Curriculum in a New Key: The Collected Works of Ted T. Aoki (co-edited with William F. Pinar), Provoking the Field: International Perspectives on Visual Arts Dissertations (co-edited with Anita Sinner and Jeff Adams), Storying the World: The Contributions of Carl Leggo on Language and Literacy (co-edited with Erica Hasebe-Ludt and Anita Sinner), Visually Provoking: Dissertation in Art Education (co-edited with Anita Sinner and Timo Jokela), and The Flaneur and Education Research (co-edited with Alexandra Lasczik Cutcher).

Rita is an artist, researcher, and teacher deeply committed to the arts, curriculum studies and education. In recognition of her many accomplishments and commitments, she has received a number of awards for her teaching, service and scholarship including the distinction of Distinguished Fellow of the National Art Education Association, of organization where she has also received the Elliot Eisner Lifetime Achievement Award and the National Higher Education Educator Award.  In Canada, she has received the Ted T. Aoki Award for Distinguished Service in Canadian Curriculum Studies (CACS), the inaugural Canadian Art Teacher of the Year Award (CSEA), the Killam Award for Teaching Excellence, the Killam Award for Excellence in Mentoring and the Murray Elliot Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teacher Education from The University of British Columbia, and the Herbert J. Coutts Award for Distinguished Service to the Canadian Society for the Study of Education. While her life in the education has offered her tremendous opportunities, she is especially proud of the many research creation projects she has pursued with her arts education colleagues and graduate students. It is in this space of living inquiry through the arts, curriculum studies and education that has sustained her very being.

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