• Ph.D. – University of Wisconsin-Madison, Curriculum and Instruction (major), Education Policy Studies (minor)
  • M.Ed. – University of California, Los Angeles, Principal Leadership Institute (PLI)
  • B.S. – Miami University (OH), Social Studies Education
  • B.A. – Miami University (OH), History

Areas of Expertise

  • Critical Pedagogy
  • Social Justice and Democratic Education
  • Social Studies Teaching
  • Teacher Education


Brian Gibbs specializes in critical teaching and critical teacher education and K-12 social studies education. After studying secondary social studies education and history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, he student taught in the Navajo Nation for six months living with formerly incarcerated youth. Gibbs went on to teach social studies for 16 years in East Los Angeles, California, eventually teaching in the graduate schools of education at UCLA, USC, the Claremont Graduate University and Antioch University. This dual experience as both a classroom teacher and teacher educator drove his interest in research and making research count for educators in the field. Gibbs earned a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on social studies education and critical theory with a minor in Education Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Gibbs’ research is interested in the limits and possibilities of critical pedagogy. He is a qualitative researcher interested in exploring critical pedagogy empirically at the classroom level to help pre and in-service teachers as well as school leaders engage a critical and democratic pedagogy successfully in diverse and complex school environments. He is interested in examining how difficult content such as war and lynching can be taught critically in classrooms that are in extreme school spaces (i.e. war to the children of soldiers, lynching near historic lynching sites) and with diverse student populations.

Dr. Gibbs’ is currently involved in the following research projects:

  1.  A longitudinal study examining how self-described justice-oriented Latinx teachers teach critically in unsupportive and antagonistic urban school environments.
  2. Explorations of how war is taught in diverse school settings (to the children of soldiers, in suburban communities, etc.) and how it can be taught critically and used to grow student critical civic agency.
  3. How lynching is (not) taught in schools near historic lynching sites and what impact this has on students.
  4. An examination of pre-service teachers conceptions of justice oriented teaching, rigorous instruction and democratic schooling and how that is maintained or shifts over time.