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Dr Lew Zipin

BA (Cornell), MEd (Wisconsin-Madison), PhD (Educational Policy Studies) (Wisconsin-Madison)

Honorary Fellow, College of Education

Lew Zipin migrated from the USA to Australia in 1996, and began his academic career as a pre-service educator at the University of Canberra (2000).

As a teacher, a sociologist of education and a researcher, Lew has worked to develop curriculum and pedagogy that enables greater social justice for groups from less privileged family and community circumstances.

He has been involved in a number of major research projects - based at University of South Australia (2002-2010) and Victoria University (since 2011) - that involve university collaboration with teachers and students to:

  • discover ‘funds of knowledge’ in the students’ family and community lives
  • build units of learning-and-teaching around these funds of knowledge.

The argument, which has been supported by findings, is that such educational engagement enables students from ‘less advantaged’ backgrounds to rise to intellectual challenges, improve in school success, and so secure better life chances.

Lew is also a scholar of educational policy, and higher education governance and work. Across his academic career, he has developed and coordinated successful pre-service and doctoral education units and programs.

Recent publications

Refereed journal articles

Zipin, L., Sellar, S., Brennan M. & Gale, T. (2013). Educating for futures in marginalized regions: A sociological framework for rethinking and researching aspirations. Educational Philosophy and Theory, DOI:10.1080/00131857.2013.839376.

Zipin, L. (2013). Engaging middle years learners by making their communities curricular: A Funds of Knowledge approach. Curriculum Perspectives, 33(2): 1-12.

Zipin, L. (2013). Starting from pedagogical zero in ‘developing’ contexts? Let’s re-imagine!: A response to Hugo and Wedekind. Southern African Review of Comparative Education, 19(1): 158-166.

Mills, M., Renshaw, P. & Zipin, L. (2013) Alternative education provision: a dumping ground for 'wasted lives' or a challenge to the mainstream?. Social Alternatives, 32(2): 13-18.

Nuttall, J., Brennan, M., Zipin, L., Tuinamuana, K., & Cameron, L. (2013). Teacher education as academic work: Insights from Australian universities. JET: Journal of Education for Teaching, 39(3): 329-343.


Blackmore, J.A., Brennan, M. & Zipin, L.D. (eds) (2010) Re-positioning University Governance and Academic Work.  Rotterdam: Sense Publications.

Refereed chapters

Zipin, L. & Brennan, M. Re-imagining the university: governing the claims of global futures’ In B. Adamson & J. Nixon (Eds) The Reorientation of Higher Education: compliance and defiance. The Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC) at the University of Hong Kong in association with Springer.

Zipin, L. (2010). Situating University Governance in the Ethico-Emotive Ground Tone of Post/late Times. In J. Blackmore, M. Brennan & L. Zipin (Eds.) Repositioning University Governance and Academic Work. Netherlands: Sense Publishers, pp. 147-162.

Blackmore, J., Brennan, M. & Zipin, L. (2010). Repositioning University Governance and Academic Work: An Overview. In J. Blackmore, M. Brennan & L. Zipin (Eds.) Repositioning University Governance and Academic Work. Netherlands: Sense Publishers, pp. 1-16.

Henderson, D. & Zipin, L. (2010). Bringing Clay to Life: Developing Student Literacy through Clay-Animation Artwork that Tells Life-Based Stories. In B. Lucas, B. Prosser & A. Reid (Eds.) Connecting Lives and Learning: Teacher Inquiry in the Middle Years of Schooling. Adelaide: Wakefield Press, Hawke Research Institute Series, pp. 1-19.

Zipin, L., Brennan, M. & Semmens, B. (2010). The RPiN Challenge for Principals: Achieving a “Pragmatic-Radical” Balance. In B. Lucas, B. Prosser and A. Reid (Eds.) Connecting Lives and Learning: Teacher Inquiry in the Middle Years of Schooling. Adelaide: Wakefield Press, Hawke Research Institute Series, pp. 157-174.

View more of Lew's publications.

Teaching responsibilities

Lew teaches units in the Doctor of Education. He conducts guest lectures and workshops in undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Postgraduate research students and fellows


Lew has supervised 4 PhD students, 1 Doctorate student, 1 Masters student and 2 Honours students at UniSA.

Current supervision

Lew is currently principal supervisor of 4 doctoral students and co-supervisor of 2 students.

Research grants

I am currently a Chief Investigator on two Australian Research Council grants:

  • 2012-2014: Capacitating Student Aspirations in Classrooms and Communities of a High Poverty Region.ARC Discovery Project #DP120101492. $180,000 (L. Zipin, M. Brennan, T. Gale and S. Sellar).
  • 2010-2014: Pursuing equity in high poverty rural schools: improving learning through rich accountabilities. ARC Linkage Project #LP100200841: ARC contribution: $386,000 (R. Lingard, M. Brennan, L. Zipin, M. Mills, P. Renshaw, partnered with Education Queensland).

Professional memberships

  • Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE)
  • Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA)
  • American Educational Research Association (AERA)
  • Eastern Educational Research Association (EERA)
  • National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU)

Industry experience

Taught secondary school in upstate New York before pursuing MEd and PhD and then moving to Australia.

Appearances in the media

Interviewed on radio in 2002 after issuance of report of consultancy research conducted for ACT branch of Australian Education Union: Too Much with Too Little: Shift and Intensification in the Work of ACT Teachers (2002).

Areas of expertise

  • Cultural Studies of Globalisation and Local-Global Connections
  • Education for Social Justice Critical Social Theories and their application to Educational Institutions Theories of Curriculum and Pedagogy Critical Policy Sociology
  • Higher Education Work and Governance
  • Teachers and Students as Researchers
  • Workloads in Universities

Contact details

+61 3 9919 5384