New Faculty Profile: Sandra Schmidt ☆

Sandra Schmidt joins the Social Studies faculty at TC from the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Having earned her Ph.D. from Michigan State University and with a background in teaching secondary social studies in various places across the country, Dr. Schmidt has also worked as a teacher educator in Dedza, Malawi and has been involved in education initiatives in Malawi, South Sudan, and Ethiopia.

With research focused on the intersection of place and identity, Dr. Schmidt is interested in how places shape people, as well as the ways in which people reshape the places they encounter. An example of this can be seen in Dr. Schmidt’s recent exploration of the manner in which interactions in public places (like schools and museums) shape people’s civic and social sensibilities. “New York City has a rich history of constructing public spaces for diverse and segregated communities to come together. I am interested in the ways this is and is not happening, in what happens in alternative public spaces or how people’s actions affect the intentions of a pubic space.”

Dr. Schmidt will be teaching doctoral seminars as well as courses in diversity and social studies education. She looks forward to contributing her own work with Geography and Queer Theory into the already rich social studies tradition at TC. Through classes and mentoring, Dr. Schmidt will endeavor to help students develop a critical stance toward their teaching and research, challenging them to situate their teaching and research in larger political, economic and social structures. “Specifically, I hope students will be more attentive to the gendered, raced and classed nature of schools, society and the academy and be attentive to the roles they play in perpetuating and challenging these systems.”

She also wants students to see that because research and teaching have such powerful potential to effect change, being thoughtful and intentional about the impact we can have is critical. “If my students leave able to ask more questions than they can answer, have been forced to articulate their worldview, are curious and inquisitive, and have a passion for what they take on, I will be a happy instructor.”

In her spare time, Dr. Schmidt stays active by playing soccer, biking, hiking, and running. She has even run three marathons and is hoping to make it four in Boston soon. Additionally, she enjoys photography, working internationally with Habitat for Humanity, and listening to or making music on the string bass, cello, and guitar.

Dr. Schmidt is looking forward to the incredible diversity NYC has to offer, and working with colleagues and students, particularly on the work TC is doing in local communities.