Rutgers Graduate School of Education Welcomes Dr. Travis Dumas as Race and Social Justice in Education Post-Doctoral Fellow

Rutgers Graduate School of Education (GSE) is pleased to welcome Dr. Travis Dumas into this year’s cohort of Race and Social Justice in Education Post-Doctoral Fellows. 

Dr. Dumas comes to the GSE from the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies Urban Schooling division where he completed his Doctor of Education. His research interests include anti-black racism and schooling inequity; school climate and culture; student academic outcomes and opportunities; and culturally relevant pedagogy and practices. 

Dr. Dumas explained more about his work and what he hopes to accomplish at the GSE: 

Why the GSE? 

“Education is something that I found to be the most important and central institution to so many aspects of our collective communities. When I think about that in relation to myself, as a scholar, I am drawn to thinking arenas and thinking communities where I can optimally contemplate the state of education, particularly as it pertains to Black students and other historically marginalized student populations. I am thinking about how and what we can do to redress the various conditions that are detrimental to their schooling experiences and outcomes. 

So, I think about the amazing collection of critical scholars at the GSE who are engaged in so much amazing work. I’m excited to be in direct communication and collaboration with them. I’m also thinking about how my own work can exist in conversation and discourse with their work as I continue to strive to promote better educational teaching practices. 

Also, to that point, the GSE has a very present and overarching mission to advance excellence and equity in education which I think is evidenced by the critical scholars the GSE houses.”  

What guiding principles do you live by? What drives you to do the work you’re doing? 

“What I’m hoping to accomplish as an educator and as a scholar—and I’m thinking of how we can promote the outcomes and experiences for all students—is, promoting the outcomes of students who have been historically marginalized and hurt by so many conditions present in schools. 

When we talk about advancing equity and excellence, a required piece of that we are tentative to the ways students have been overlooked and the ways concerning outcomes have been supported and promoted by very normalized practices. I imagine myself calling those out directly, being directly in conflict and in contention with the things that have sustained inequity, not letting those things go unchecked, go unexamined, and in fact, doing the exact opposite. 

So, I am very direct and intentional with my work in terms of readdressing inequity, which is why so much of my work is focused on antiblackness. It’s not just to virtue signal, use flowery language to be performative, or make a bunch of unkept promises to some of our overlooked students, but being engaged with them in terms of theorizing our practices and policies to better support their needs.” 

What inspired you to pursue a career in education? 

“My mother has been an educator for over 25 years, so growing up, it was kind of like school is always with you, school is always in the house, school is pretty much in every conversation that you have even when it’s a Saturday afternoon. When I was studying shapes, she would point to a random object and ask me what shape it was. When she found out that I was learning fractions, she would ask me a fraction question while we were at the store. 

I’ve always been inspired by the work educators do. Being able to visit my mom’s classroom during her parent conferences with other folks really gave me a perspective on the work of teachers. It really humanized teachers to me; they are not these rigid figures who appear in the classroom and disappear at the end of the school day.  They have lives and families, and the work being done can follow them home. 

I think back to my college graduation. A beautiful time but in that moment, it was also clear how few students like us, like me, were graduating from top universities. At that moment I had an immediate shift in my research interest. I was less concerned about the higher education tier and became more concerned about the things that interrupt and disrupt young folks like me in earlier stages of education. What things structurally, have prevented folks from having a celebration like this. 

I should not be celebrated as an anomaly or as an exception to the rule, an exception to the statistics. It should be the exact opposite. What are we doing to promote supports and practices so that in five years, ten years I’m not the only or one of the only Black men from my community, my neighborhood, and neighborhoods like mine, graduating from top universities?” 

What do you hope to accomplish while you are here at the GSE? 

“I’m excited to forward my research agenda substantially. I hope to produce research that is impactful and of service to students, practitioners, and officials, as well as community-facing and community-engaged. It’s not my goal for my work and the knowledge I produce to just sit in a university repository. I want it to be a tool for people to access. I’m excited to be in discourse and conversation with folks engaged in work like mine and, perhaps, even different.”