Dr. Julia Paulson (PhD) will begin a five-year term as the new dean of USask’s College of Education on June 1.
Dr. Julia Paulson (PhD) will begin a five-year term as the new dean of USask’s College of Education on June 1. (Photo: Connor Jay)

USask appoints new dean in the College of Education

Dr. Julia Paulson (PhD) will serve a five-year term, beginning June 1, 2023.

By University Communications

Born and raised in Alberta, Paulson joins the University of Saskatchewan (USask) from the United Kingdom where she is a professor of education, peace and conflict, and co-director of the Centre for Comparative and International Research in Education at the University of Bristol. At Bristol, she was the first director of undergraduate programs in the School of Education as it introduced two new degree programs.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Queen’s University, and Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the University of Oxford.

“I am really inspired by USask’s vision to be the university the world needs. The College of Education plays an important role in achieving this vision, including through the ongoing work and long history in anti-racist education and Indigenous education in the college and thanks to the incredible contributions the college has made to education in the province and beyond,” said Paulson.

Paulson’s own research explores the ways in which education can contribute towards peace by seeking to repair past injustices and to acknowledge and transform the educational legacies of conflict and violence. She focuses on the relationships between education and transitional justice, education and memory production, and educating about violent pasts.

“Education can contribute to and entrench violence and inequality. This can happen explicitly and obviously, but also in subtle ways that are important to unpack,” Paulson said. “Acknowledging this complicity of education can help to develop strategies for repair.”

As a researcher in the U.K., Paulson has generated a total of £4.35 million in funding and currently serves as the principal investigator on projects totaling £2.24 million. In 2020, Paulson received a £2-million grant from United Kingdom Research and Innovation to develop the Education Justice and Memory Network (EdJAM). EdJAM is a collaborative, international network of researchers, educators, and civil society organizations committed to creative ways to teach and learn about conflict, violence, colonialism, imperialism, and racism. The network funds research projects around the world. Thirty-three civil society organizations in 13 countries take part.

“Through EdJAM we’ve been able to support researchers, teachers, artists, and activists to try creative methodologies and pedagogies for teaching about violence and injustice in their contexts and to share that work internationally,” Paulson said.

She hopes to apply this experience to help enhance the international research lens within the college.

“I think there is such amazing research happening within the college already, and it will be exciting to build more connections with what’s happening at the University of Saskatchewan and these international spaces,” said Paulson.

Through EdJAM and other research projects, Paulson has collaborated with Indigenous organizations, scholars and educators in Colombia, Mexico, and Peru on projects focused on reparative education and Indigenous education sovereignty. She has co-edited a book, to be published later this spring, entitled Decolonizing Education for Sustainable Futures. The title of the book builds from the UNESCO Chair in Inclusive, Good Quality Education 2020 online seminar series of the same name, which was attended by more than 3,000 colleagues from around the world. Paulson is also the co-editor of Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education.

Paulson has been a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since 2016. During her time at the University of Bristol, she developed and launched several new units, including Education, Climate Change, and Social Justice, which ran for the first time in 2019/20 during the COVID-19 pandemic; and Education in Practice, which offers a placement opportunity for undergraduate students to develop professional skills in settings such as schools, prisons, community organizations, museums, and small businesses.

“In addition to a track record of successful leadership experience, Dr. Paulson brings to USask a strong research focus on reparative education and a dedication to the ways in which education can contribute to peacebuilding,” said Provost and Vice-President Academic Dr. Airini (PhD). “I am confident she will build upon the excellence already present in the College of Education’s undergraduate and graduate programs and continue advancing its place as a strong partner in the province’s education system.”

Paulson appreciates the strong value statements the college already has and is looking forward to enhancing the reputation of the College of Education as it celebrates 50 years of the Indian Teacher Education Program (ITEP) this year and moves closer to celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2027. In addition, new units like the Jane and Ron Graham Centre for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning are providing new opportunities for growth.

“This seems like an important time to celebrate all the work that has been done in the college and by our amazing alumni as we come up to the centenary. It is a great time to think strategically together about how we can build the reputation of the college and continue to enhance its contributions to education within the province, within the country, and internationally,” said Paulson.

Paulson and her family arrived in Saskatoon in April. She joined the College of Education on May 1 as dean elect to begin familiarizing herself with the USask campus and administration. Interim Dean Dr. Beth Bilson (PhD) will continue to serve in the role through to May 31.

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