Jill Koyama

About Jill Koyama

Jill Koyama, Ph.D., a cultural anthropologist, is Associate Professor in Educational Policy Studies and Practice (EPSP) and Teaching Learning and Sociocultural Studies (TLS). She is a faculty affiliate with Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs in Social, Cultural and Critical Theory and Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT), and iLGBTQ Studies. She received her MEd from the University of Washington and her PhD in Anthropology and Education, International and Transcultural Studies, from Teachers College, Columbia University.


Jill focuses her ethnographic research lens on the intersections of social inequities and policy. Her work is situated across three integrated strands of inquiry: the productive social assemblage of policy; the controversies of globalizing educational policy; and the politics of language policy and immigrant and refugee education. For the past nine years, Jill’s research has centered on how, even under dire circumstances and inhospitable politics, refugee, asylum seekers, and other newcomers access and create resource-rich networks, make space for themselves and their families, and take civic action in the United States. Such research has led her to challenge notions of global citizenship and interrogate traditional pathways of civic engagement and education. Her current research examines how Latinx youth access, create, and participate in online platforms to take actions on social issues, including LGBTQ rights, gender equality, immigration reform, and environmental sustainability.



Her book, Making Failure Pay: High-Stakes Testing, For-Profit Tutoring, and Public Schools, was published in 2010 by The University of Chicago Press. Her work also appears in several journals, including American Journal of Education, Anthropology and Education Quarterly, British Journal of Sociology of Education, Educational Policy, Educational Researcher, Journal of Education Policy, and Urban Review. Her co-edited volume, US Education in a World of Migration: Implications for Policy and Practice was released in March 2014 by Routledge Press. In 2008, Jill Koyama received the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Council on Anthropology and Education. In 2013, she received the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Emerging Scholar Award for Division A. She has just been awarded the 2016 Outstanding Faculty Award by the UA Asian American Faculty, Staff, and Alumni Association and the 2017 Outstanding Faculty Service/Outreach Award by the College of Education.


Jill is committed to being engaged locally and disrupting dominant global discourses through action. She is a volunteer and an advisory council member at CENTER (Collaborative Engagement to Nurture Talent and Educate Responsively), a refugee hub in downtown Tucson, where refugee youth, their families, and their teachers participate in a variety of educational support programs and become linked to larger social networks. Jill especially enjoys tutoring youth in the sciences and collaborating with them on creative projects. Last spring, they created short digital movies to illuminate how, what, and with whom they learn. Aiming for a broader influence, Jill also writes Op-Eds, often focused on her work with refugees, but also on her experiences as a bicultural Queer feminist. Her work has been featured in the CNN, Reuters, Ms. Magazine, Al Jazeera America, and Huffington Post.

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Contact Information

Jill Koyama
Associate Professor, Educational Policy Studies and Practice; and Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences