Mark Nagasawa

Director, Straus Center for Young Children & Families

Mark’s scholarship is guided by the anthropology of education’s broad questions about the intergenerational transmission of—and conflict over—culture and the role schooling plays in social continuity and change. More specifically this scholarship lies at the nexus of curriculum and policy studies, investigating how people in bureaucracies, preschool through higher education schools, and in community settings make meaning of and negotiate globally-circulating education reform agendas, particularly efforts to incorporate “high quality” early care and education into kindergarten through twelfth grade education systems using “professional development” and evaluation as policy levers. The central assumptions of this work are 1) that policy-making and enactment are cultural practices of power and 2) understanding the cultural logics that shape policy practice is a component of framing justice-centered educational and social policy reforms.

This work is informed by professional experiences as an early childhood educator, social worker, and policy analyst, which were in turn shaped by his upbringing as the grandchild of voluntary immigrants and the child of first-generation college graduates. While his family’s history is an example of how education can transform lives, his work is driven by the empirical reality that, for far too many, schooling does not result in similar positive transformations.

Recent Publications

Nagasawa, M., & Swadener, B.B. (2020). Power to the profession? Reading and repoliticizing early childhood workforce development in the United States. In M. Vandenbroeck (Ed.), Revisiting Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed: Issues and Challenges in Early Childhood Education. Routledge.

Nagasawa, M.K. (2019). “An old fight”: Early childhood education’s enduring struggle in one U.S. state. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. Online first:

Nagasawa, M.K., & Swadener, B.B. (2018). Whose reconceptualizing? Embracing engaged reconceptualization in/of early childhood. In N. Yelland, & D. Franz Bentley (Eds.), Not lost in translation: Connecting reconceptualist early childhood ideas with practice (pp. 21-39). New York: Routledge.

Moreno, A., Nagasawa, M.K., & Schwartz, T. (2018). Social-emotional learning and early childhood education: Redundant terms? Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. Online first:

Nagasawa, M.K., & Swadener, B.B. (2017). Be/longing: Reciprocal mentoring, pedagogies of place, and critical childhood studies in the time of Trump. Global Studies of Childhood, 7(2), 207-221.

Nagasawa, M. (2015). Arizona’s “Success by Six” legislative package: A case study of strategic framing. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 29(2), 244-258.

Nagasawa, M., & Swadener, B.B. (2015). Envisioning a politically activist, critical qualitative social science: Reflections on mentoring relationships. In G.S. Cannella, M.S. Perez, & P.A. Pasque (Eds.), Critical qualitative inquiry: Foundations and futures (pp. 171-194). Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Swadener, B.B., & Nagasawa, M. (2015). Confronting common sense assumptions and social exclusions: Transnational stories and a call to action. In S. Mitakidou (Ed.), Roma inclusion: International and Greek experiences (pp. 37-50). Thessaloniki, GR: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, School of Primary Education.

Nagasawa, M., Peters, L.E., & Swadener, B.B. (2014). The costs of putting quality first: Neoliberalism, (ine)quality, (un)affordability, and (in)accessibility? In M.N. Bloch, B.B. Swadener, & G.S. Canella (Eds.), Reconceptualizing early childhood care and education: Critical questions, diverse imaginaries and social activism – a reader (pp. 277-288). New York: Peter Lang.

View Mark’s CV (pdf)

PhD Arizona State University