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Nathaniel Williams, Assistant Professor of Educational Studies and 2018 Faculty Achievement Award Winner


Nathaniel Williams

Assistant Professor of Educational Studies

2 E South St

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999

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An abstract painting, one of the entries in the annual Al Young Art Show.

Nathaniel Williams

At Knox Since: 2015

Assistant Professor of Educational Studies and 2018 Faculty Achievement Award Winner

Williams' work takes on issues of systemic racism and neoliberal education reform both in the classroom and in the community.

Nathaniel Williams, Assistant Professor of Educational Studies and 2018 Faculty Achievement Award Winner

Describe your current research. What is most interesting about this work?

Currently my research agenda is divided into three domains; dissemination and access through scholarly activism, racial disparities in school discipline, and biracial identity development. The entirety of my research agenda centers on my philosophical and pedagogical belief of  liberating self through the pursuit of freedom, while chasing the shadow of justice.

You have co-authored work with students. How has that interaction affected your own academic interests and research?

Caroline Ware, who was a student in my first semester ed-psych course at Knox College, struggled with conflicting aspects of her racial identity. Due to limited resources that offered validation, Caroline reached out to me. We then began informally discussing the commonly held ideas about being biracial and our own experiences of trying to identify within the strict Black/white binary that doesn't allow for potential gray area or racial fluidity. This new line in my research agenda is the result of over a dozen conversations about our identity development as Black-biracial scholars. Having the opportunity and platform to discuss an issue that is so tightly thread to my existence, has not only opened a new area of research, but has been equally rewarding to co-author a publication with one of my undergraduate students.

What drew you to Knox College? 

Unapologetically, I am an educator first. Upon completing my dissertation and entering the job field, I made a concerted effort to move away from large research institutions, similar to my alma mater, and look for spaces that valued educating over publishing. Upon hearing about the application for my position, I researched Knox's history and immediately began to admire its rich legacy and its focus on teaching.

How did you first get interested in your academic field?

I was a former high school teacher and I initially went to graduate school to become a Superintendent, but after realizing the political aspect of that job and having the opportunity to work on research about students who look like me; I made a major shift to studying the things I am more passionate about.

If you weren't a professor, what would you be?

If I wasn't teaching in a high school classroom, I would be a principal or school psychologist.

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Printed on Saturday, August 24, 2019