Eric DeMeulenaere has been awarded the 2015 Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement. The award recognizes early-career faculty who practice exemplary engaged scholarship through teaching and research. Recipients are selected on the basis of their collaboration with communities, institutional impact, and high-quality academic work.
Dr. Eric DeMeulenaere is Assistant Professor of Urban Schooling in the Department of Education at Clark University. Dr. DeMeulenaere has been working to improve urban education for the past 25 years. He began his career as a middle school history teacher in Oakland, California. He has also taught social studies and English and coached soccer in high schools and middle schools in Oakland, San Francisco, and, more recently, Worcester, Massachusetts. In 2004, he co-founded and directed an innovative small public high school in East Oakland that focused on social justice and increased academic outcomes for youth of color. Before opening the school, Dr. DeMeulenaere earned his Ph.D. in the Social and Cultural Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. Through research, teaching and community engagement, Dr. DeMeulenaere is committed to confronting inequalities and empowering urban youth to create change in their communities. As an educator, Dr. DeMeulenaere’s courses “nurture a generation of students to think about themselves as engaged scholars and agents of change” through a framework of community engagement, social justice and reciprocity.
Dr. DeMeulenaere has worked to merge his activism with his role in academia. His research is grounded in participatory action research and narrative inquiry and draws extensively from critical theory to examine how to create more effective and liberatory learning spaces for urban youth. His forthcoming book, The Activist Academic, co-authored with Colette Cann, details their journeys together toward tenure as academics while maintaining their commitment to activist work for racial and social justice. Throughout his journey as a junior academic, Dr. DeMeulenaere has situated his teaching, research, and service within the contexts of the poor urban communities where he has worked. While he has consulted with urban school leaders and teachers nationally and internationally to transform their pedagogical practices and organizational school cultures, he has always prioritized working with teachers and youth in the Main South Neighborhood in Worcester, where Clark University resides and one of the poorest neighborhoods in New England.
For instance, six years ago, Dr. DeMeulenaere began a project co-teaching a high school course with teachers in a critical inquiry group he created to develop critical pedagogies in urban classrooms. This was a site where he not only engaged teachers in enacting critical pedagogy, but engaged both high school and college students in participatory action research. He has presented this work with high school teachers and students as well as college students in multiple conferences and documented it in several journal articles and book chapters. In another project, he worked with teachers to produce his first book, “Reflections from the Field: How Coaching Made Us Better Teachers,” co-authored with Colette Cann. This book brought the voice and lessons from classroom teachers to the debates on educational policy and practice.
More recently, Dr. DeMeulenaere has worked with Worcester youth in a critical media literacy and youth film producers program, N-CITE Community Media. Through this program, Dr. DeMeulenaere engages youth in critical counter-storytelling through film to create “counterspaces” in which young people can foster radical healing, critical consciousness and civic agency. This work brings the voice and perspective of youth to challenge dominant narratives that maintain existing inequities. This past year the students’ documentary highlighted youth immigration, and was displayed to thousands across Massachusetts, including at the Massachusetts State House.
In addition to books and book chapters, Dr. DeMeulenaere’s writings have appeared in The Urban Review, Qualitative Inquiry, The International Journal of Critical Pedagogy and several others.
As described by his nominator, Dr. DeMeulenaere’s work in academia is so deeply embedded within his community work that it “blurs the lines between research, teaching, and service/activism.” Dr. DeMeulenaere writes, “My work with the community is not something extra or special that I do. It is who I am. I cannot do or be otherwise. There is too much at stake for me and the folks I am working with, and for society as a whole.”
Dr. DeMeulenaere’s teaching, scholarship and service deeply impacts his students, colleagues and surrounding community. He is the epitome of a community-engaged activist scholar who has and will continue to work tirelessly to empower people to create change in urban communities. The 2015 Lynton Award was presented at the 21st annual conference of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU), “A Love of Place: The Metropolitan Advantage,” held from October 11-13, 2015, in Omaha, Nebraska. CUMU co-sponsored the Award. In addition, Dr. DeMeulenaere delivered the keynote address at the 4th annual Lynton Colloquium on the Scholarship of Engagement, held on Saturday, November 14, 2015, at the University of Massachusetts Boston.