Robert J. Helfenbein, Ph.D.

Robert Helfenbein

Associate Dean 
Professor of Curriculum Studies
Xavier Hall 108 


Ph.D. School of Education, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 2004
Degree Major: Education; Program: Culture, Community, and Change

Certificate, University Program in Cultural Studies, University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, 2004

M.A., Social Science Education, Appalachian State University, Boone NC, 1997

B.A., Secondary Education- History, University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, 1993


Rob Helfenbein earned his Ph.D. and B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Helfenbein has offered courses in Teaching Secondary Social Studies, Middle School Methods, and graduate level courses in curriculum theory, qualitative research methods, social foundations, and urban education.

Dr. Helfenbein has published and edited numerous research articles and book chapters about contemporary education analysis in urban contexts in journals such as Curriculum Inquiry, the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, Educational Studies, The Urban Review, the Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, and co-edited the books Unsettling Beliefs: Teaching Theory to Teachers (2008) and Ethics and International Curriculum Work: The Challenges of Culture and Context (2012) and Deterritorializing/Reterritorializing: Critical Geographies of Education Reform (2017).  

In 2008, Dr. Helfenbein served as the Section Chair for Critical Perspectives and Practices of AERA Division B-Curriculum Studies followed by serving as overall Program Chair for Division B in 2009 and was nominated into the Professors of Curriculum at AERA 2011. He is currently serving as Editor of the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing and organizer of the annual Bergamo Conference on Curriculum Theory and Classroom Practice in Dayton, Ohio. 

His current research interests include curriculum theorizing in urban contexts, ethics and international education work, cultural studies of education, and the impact of globalization on the lived experience of schools.

Research Interests

Urban Education
Curriculum Theory
Cultural Studies of Education
Qualitative Research Methods
Educational Foundations
Social Studies Education

Selected Awards

Indiana University Trustees’ Teaching Award, 2013
Bantz-Petronio Translating Research into Practice Award, 2013 nominee
Indiana University Trustees’ Teaching Award, 2007
G. Pritchy Smith Multicultural Education Award (NAME), 2006 nominee
Early Career Award, AERA SIG Critical Issues in Curriculum and Cultural Studies, 2005-2006
Outstanding Paper, AERA SIG Research in Social Studies, 2004


Book Cover: Deterritorialzing Book Cover: Ethics and International Curriculum Work 'Unsettling Beliefs'
Ares, N., Buendia, E., Helfenbein, R. (Eds.). (2017). Deterritorializing/Reterritorializing: Critical Geography of Educational Reform. Sense Publishers Mason, T.  &. Helfenbein, R. (Eds.). (2012). The ethics of international curriculum work: The challenges of culture and context. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. Diem, J. &. Helfenbein, R. (Eds.). (2008). Unsettling Beliefs: Teaching theory to teachers. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Selected Publications

Helfenbein, R. (2016). Preface: Entanglement. In N. Snaza, D. Sonu, S.E. Truman, & Z. Zaliwska (Eds.) Pedagogical Matters: New Materialisms and Curriculum Studies (ix-xiv). New York: Peter Lang.

Helfenbein, R. (2015). Notes on Spivak: What’s left of theory?.  Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices 9(1), 72-78.

Gershon, W. & Helfenbein, R. (2015). Two Narratives from the Allied Front: Can People Not of Color Have Racial Battle Fatigue? In K. Varner, K. Albert, R. Mitchell, & C. Allen (Eds.) Racial Battle Fatigue: Difference and Division in Higher Education. Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield.

Helfenbein, R. & Huddleston, G. (Eds.). (2013). Toward the concrete: Youth, space, and cities. [Special Issue] Taboo: The Journal of Culture and Education 13(1), 1-10.

Helfenbein, R. (2012). New meridians: Social education and citizenship in a critical geography. In T. Kenreich (Ed.) Geography and social justice in the classroom. New York: Routledge.

Helfenbein, R.  (2012). A new set of questions: The ethics of taking space seriously in Macedonia. In  Mason, T.  &. Helfenbein, R. (Eds.). (2012). The ethics of international curriculum work: The challenges of culture and context. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing

Helfenbein, R., Stuckey, S., Fennewald, T. & R. Hoffman-Longtin  (2011). Non-Didactic, a Culture of Peace, and “Some Cat from Brazil”: A Case Study of Negotiating a Dialogic Curriculum with Incarcerated Girls. The Urban Review 43:507–527. 

Smiley, A. & Helfenbein, R. (2011). Becoming teachers: The Payne effect.  Multicultural Perspectives 13(1).

Helfenbein, R. (2011). The urbanization of everything: Thoughts on globalization andeducation. In S. Tozer, B. Gallegos & A. Henry (Eds.). Handbook of research in social foundations of education. New York: Routledge.

Helfenbein, R.  (2010). Thinking through scale: Critical Geography and curriculum spaces. In E. Malewski (Ed.) Curriculum studies handbook: The next moment (304-317). New York: Routledge.


Professional Activities/Society Memberships

American Education Research Association
American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies
Association of Cultural Studies
American Educational Studies Association
Foundation for Curriculum Theory
Professors of Curriculum