Joseph R. Neikirk Distinguished Professor of Sociology of Education
212E Peabody Hall
“The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color-line ...”
– W.E.B. Du Bois
“Prejudice is the acme of the a priori.”
– John Dewey
George W. Noblit became a sociologist in the 1970s, a time of turbulent social change. Research on crime, delinquency and deviance led to a focus on schooling in the lives and futures of youth.
Through a study of school desegregation, he began a program of research on the social construction of race, using ethnographic research to study schools and other educational scenes. Noblit is intrigued with how knowledge—often taken as good in its own right—is implicated in creating the very problems it is asked to solve.
Noblit studies the various ways knowledge is constrcuted and how the competition over which knowledge counts construct powers and difference. This process means exploring both the highest reaches of theory and the everyday lives of people as they struggle to make sense of the world. To Noblit, “there is not a theory-practice gap, only a failure of imagination.” Noblit conducts funded evaluation projects, most recently on A+ (arts-enhanced) schools (the subject of his 2009 book), charter schools and prison education for youth adult offenders in North Carolina. “For me, evaluation and policy studies are a way to be part of larger political processes in our society,” he says, “and to help shape the agendas of important innovations.”
- Ph.D. 1973 - University of Oregon, Sociology
- M.S. 1971 - University of Oregon, Sociology
- B.A. 1970 - Hiram College, Sociology and General Science
- Race and Education
- Qualitative Methods
- Sociology of Knowledge
- School Reform
- Arts and Education
- Qualitative Research Methods
- Social Foundations of Education
- EDUC 772: Educational Sociology
- EDUC 803: Proseminar in Education
- EDUC 874: Problems in the Sociological Foundations of Education
- EDUC 981: Field Techniques in Educational Research
- EDUC 982: Advanced Qualitative Analysis and Interpretation
Honors & Awards
- Faculty Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring, The Graduate School, UNC-CH
- 2007 Critics Choice award, American Educational Studies Association for book: Late to Class
- Jones Lecturer, College Of Education, Texas Technological University, September 2003
- Fellow at Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, UNC-CH, 2001
- Dina Feitelson Award for Outstanding Research, International Reading Association, 2000
- 1998-2003; 2006-present, Principal Investigator, Workplace and Community Transition Training for Incarcerated Youth Offenders, $250,000 (to date) study funded by the North Carolina Department of Correction.
- 2000-2006, Co-Principal Investigator, Roads Not Taken: Education and Race in the Post-Brown South, a five year, $264,000 study funded by the Spencer Foundation
- 2002-2003, Principal Investigator, Sustainability of the A+ School Program, a 18 month, $112,000 study funded by the Ford Foundation
- 2002-2004, Co-Principal Investigator, Evaluation of Comer (School Development Program) Comprehensive School Reform Initiatives, a three year, $449,995 study funded by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement and Yale University
- 1999-2000, Project Director and Co-Principal Investigator, District Context and Comer Schools, a one year, $114,000 study funded by the Rockefeller Foundation
- 1999-2002, Principal Investigator, Evaluation of North Carolina’s Comer Schools, a two-year, $350,000 study funded by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
Selected Professional Affiliations
- American Educational Research Association
- American Educational Studies Association
- American Sociological Association
- American Anthropological Association
- Durham Association of Educators/Durham Public Schools African American Male Achievement Initiative
G. Noblit, H. Corbett, B. Wilson and M. McKinney. (2009). Creating and Sustaining Arts-Based School Reform: The A+ Schools Program. New York: Routledge.
W. Malloy, C. Malloy and G. Noblit. (2008). Scaling Up Systemic Reform. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
W. Pink and G. Noblit (eds.). (2007). The International Handbook of Urban Education. Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Springer. (2 volumes).
Noblit, G. and Mendez, J. (2008). Legacies of Brown versus Board: An introduction to the special issue. The Urban Review, 40(1), 1-4.
Noblit, G., Hwang, S., Seiler, G. and Elmsky, R. (2007). Forum: toward culturally responsive discourses in science education. Cultural Studies of
Science Education, 2:105-117.
Noblit, G. (2006). The Problem of the a priori for Education: Education as the Practice of Knowing. The Journal of Thought, 41(4), 61-65.