Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Photo of Rebecca New

New, Rebecca

Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education

T: 919.962.7844
301J Peabody Hall
CB 3500

"Don't my teachers ever talk to each other?"

- Francesca Prince, age 7


Rebecca New is a teacher and cultural psychologist whose research focuses on the contexts and meanings of children’s early learning and development. Formerly a teacher in Florida elementary schools, she began her graduate studies in curriculum and instruction but soon shifted to psychological foundations, under the tutelage of the late Ira Gordon. She completed her graduate work at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in Comparative Child Development. Her dissertation on Italian infant care set the stage for her continuing scholarship on Italian early care and education. Much of this work has been used to critique the ethnocentric nature of U.S. social science  research and interpretations of “best practices,” as represented, for example, in the construct of “developmental appropriateness.” Widely known for  introducing Reggio Emilia’s municipal early childhood program to U.S. educators, her analyses of that community’s interpretation of children’s rights and principles of civic engagement highlight the transactional nature of cultural values, policies, and local educational practices.

New’s current work continues to focus on the cultural nature of children’s early learning as interpreted by parents and teachers, with a new interest in North Carolinian immigrant families. Her work with the FirstSchool Initiative is aligned with the re-visioning of Teaching and Learning programs at the School of Education.  Aims of these efforts are also consistent with national efforts to better integrate early and elementary perspectives in support of children’s diverse transitions into public school settings, involve families in meaningful in ways their children’s early education, and eliminate barriers to success for vulnerable populations of children.


Doctoral Program Affiliation(s)

Ph.D. in Education - Teacher Education and Curriculum

Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction

Educational Background

  • Ed.D. 1984 - Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA, Comparative Child Development
  • M.Ed. 1972 - University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, Early Childhood Education
  • B.S. 1968 - Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, Elementary Education

Research Interests

  • Cultural models of parenting and child development
  • Cross-cultural and comparative policy studies on early care and education
  • Immigrant parenting

Teaching Areas

  • Culture and Child Development
  • Diversity and Teacher Education


  • EDUC 532: Child and Adolescent Development
  • EDUC 503: Working with Families
  • EDUC 881: Cultural Models of Learning and Development
  • EDUC 881: Diversity and Teacher Education

Honors & Awards

  • National Academy of Education and Spencer Fellows National Academy of Education and Spencer Fellows Collaboration (w/Sally Lubeck), 2002-2003
  • Class of 1941 Professorship, University of New Hampshire, 1998 - 2000
  • Faculty Scholars Award, University of New Hampshire, Fall 1994
  • Spencer Post-Doctoral Fellowship, National Academy of Education, 1988-89

Funded Research

  • Immigrant Parents and Children in Transition: Cultural Models of US Early Childhood Education.Spencer Foundation (PI and Project Director, 6/2014-5/2017 ($521,000).
  • Italian Conceptions of Community, Participation, and Social Responsibility: Child Care as Metaphor. Spencer Foundation Major Grant (Project Director; co-PI with S. Mantovani), 9/98-6/2000 ($183,000).
  • The Sociocultural Construction of Home-School Relations: The Case of Reggio Emilia and Contemporary Italy. Spencer Foundation Major Grant (Project Director; co-PI with B. Mallory), 8/96 - 8/98 ($296,150).

Selected Professional Affiliations

  • American Educational Research Association
  • European Early Childhood Education Research Association
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children
  • National Association for Early Childhood Teacher Education
  • Society for Psychological Anthropology

Selected Publications


LeVine, R., & New, R. (Eds.) (2008). Anthropology and child development: Selected Readings. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers

New, R., & Cochran, M. (Eds.) (2007). International encyclopedia of early childhood education,Volumes I-IV. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Journal Articles

New, R. (in preparation). What’s in a word? Immigrant parents’ interpretations of the means and meaning of school readiness. [original paper presented at Society of Psychological Anthropology, Boston MA, April 2015].

New, R. (2013). Looking back and moving forward. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education,34(1), 113-118.

New, R. (2010). Cross-cultural research on children’s development: Deep roots and new branches.Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology,41, 522-533. C. Edwards & T. Weisner (guest editors).

New, R. (2010). 21st Century U.S. early care and education: From a private problem to a national agenda. Revue internationale d’éducation de Sèvres, 13(53), 129-140. Special issue "Quality,equity and diversity in preschool education"], S. Rayna (guest editor).


New, R. (2015). 21st Century early childhood teacher education: New frames for a shifting landscape. In L.J. Couse & S L. Recchia (Eds.). The Handbook of Early Childhood Teacher Education,pp. 5 - 21. New York: Routledge. [in print, but will have publication date of 2016]

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