Professor of Education Dr. Cynthia Chambers is a leading figure in Canadian curriculum and literacy studies, and the enduring influence of her research has extended locally and around the world.
A scholar of curriculum and literacy education and curriculum theory, Chambers is the 2013 recipient of the Ingrid Speaker Medal for Distinguished Research, Scholarship or Performance.
Participating in several communities of practice and well known in curriculum studies, literacy studies and narrative/life-writing methodologies, her research interests include: indigenous literacies and languages; narrative, autobiography, personal essay and memoir as forms of inquiry for educators; interpretive inquiry; cultural, social and political difference and its effect; and the teaching life. Her work in Canadian curriculum studies is a research landmark in new thought, policy and pedagogy.
Chambers's research promotes positive educational change for the greater good of communities. She balances research and theory with a pragmatic knowledge of schools and society to impact literacy and curriculum development. Chambers has conducted research with and for marginalized populations, including indigenous communities in the Northwest Territories, British Columbia and Alberta. Her collaboration with the Northwest Territories Literacy Council, for example, played an important role in redefining literacy practices in northern communities.
She has written many benchmark texts, including works that address First Nations, Métis and Inuit research on traditional and indigenous literacies. She has also worked with local elders, teachers and community members on repatriating significant Blackfoot sites. For this and her research on literacy, land and place, she was honoured with a Blackfoot name and a lifetime designation of Eminent Scholar in Kainai Studies with Red Crow College.
In 2001, she and four colleagues established the Literacy Research Centre at the U of L. This centre aims to study literacy and the implications of literacy for education and society. It houses five principal researchers who work with teachers, school counsellors, school administrators and graduate students. The centre continues to develop a network of scholars, practitioners, students and community participants studying and practising literacy and pedagogy.
In Alberta, Canada and internationally, Chambers has a long-standing reputation as an excellent researcher and author, an inspiring speaker and exceptional educator. She has won the 2011 Ted T. Aoki award for Distinguished Service in Canadian Curriculum Studies Research, and the 2010 American Educational Research Association outstanding recognition award for a book on curriculum inquiry, which she co-wrote with two fellow curriculum scholars.
In 2001, the University of British Columbia selected her as a Noted Scholar at their Centre for Curriculum and Instruction. In 2012, the Cynthia Chambers Award for outstanding master's thesis in curriculum studies was established in honour of her scholarship and inspiration to educators and researchers across Canada. These honours, and more, speak to the quality of her curriculum studies research and the high regard in which it is held.
This story first appeared in the May 2013 edition of the Legend. For a look at the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.