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CREO welcomes Assistant Professor Joel Mittleman and Assistant Professor Calvin Zimmerman!

on Friday, 11 October 2019. Posted in News

The Center for Research on Educational Opportunity (CREO) welcomes Assistant Professor Joel Mittleman and Assistant Professor Calvin Zimmerman to the University of Notre Dame. Both Professor Mittleman and Professor Zimmermann are in the first academic year of teaching in the Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame. 


Joel Mittleman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame, where he is also a faculty affiliate of the Center for Research on Educational Opportunity. As a sociologist and social demographer, he studies inequalities in the lives of stigmatized youth. His research applies an intersectional perspective to understand how children’s race/ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation impact their experiences and opportunities. He is especially interested in how youth are “policed:” by peers, by teachers and by the juvenile justice system itself. Current research projects focus on LGBTQ youth in the U.S. and the U.K.

 Professor Mittleman’s research has been published in Sociology of Education and Educational Researcher and the Journal of Adolescent Health. It has received awards from the Education and Population Sections of the ASA, as well as from the Educational Problems Division of the SSSP. His research and training have been supported by a Marshall Scholarship, a Truman Scholarship, and a fellowship from the American Education Research Association.

 Mittleman earned his PhD in Sociology and Social Policy at Princeton University, where he was also a trainee in the Office of Population Research. Before finding his disciplinary home as a sociologist, he studied philosophy at the London School of Economics, education at UCL's Institute of Education, and economics at Swarthmore College. His research and teaching interests continue to be informed by these diverse fields.

When he's not teaching or doing research, Joel is spending time with his one year old, Adrian, who finds new ways to amaze and delight every day.

Calvin Zimmermann grew up in the North Lawndale neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois. He attended the University of Pennsylvania where he received his PhD in Sociology in 2018. His research expertise is in the areas of race and education. He is broadly interested in the relationship between systemic racism and the school experiences of young children.

Professor Zimmermann is currently working on a book project that examines black and white boys' school disciplinary experiences in early childhood. The goal of the project is to uncover the everyday mechanisms that produce racial disproportionality in school discipline. He also considers the social consequences of racialized discipline for black and white boys. Schools are an important site where children come to understand their social selves. He argues that school discipline in early childhood is socializing and sorting these young boys into a larger racial system. Specifically, rather than cultivating the full potential of young black boys, with such an intense focus on discipline and control schools often socialize them into a sense of racial inferiority from the very beginning of their schooling. In contrast, white boys’ disciplinary experiences socialize them into a sense of racial privilege and relative invisibility.

He is also working on several papers using nationally representative data that examine how racial and gender meanings shape teachers’ perceptions and actions in early childhood. For example, one paper co-authored with Dr. Grace Kao from Yale University looks at children’s race and gender classification and the relationship between children’s noncognitive skills and teacher ratings of academic ability. A second paper examines racial and gender disparities in teacher communication with parents about children’s behavior problems, academic problems, and accomplishments. One of the goals of all of these papers is to push scholars to think beyond how race or gender individually shape teacher perceptions and actions but also how the intersectionality of race and gender enhances our understanding of these issues.

When he is not busy teaching, he spends much of his time tirelessly dancing to baby shark with his two year old daughter, Aziyah. Some of his favorite activities are attending sports events, music concerts, and watching stand up comedy.