303B Miller

Deborah Kerdeman

Emeritus Professor

As a philosopher of education, I aim to help students cultivate the dispositions, habits of mind, and skills of critical reasoning that will enable them to confront, analyze, and learn from life’s existential and moral challenges.  In an age dominated by instrumental discourse and market-based assumptions concerning education, educational philosophy provides an alternative framework that can help teachers, educational policy-makers, and school reformers consider how education can promote personal transformation and further social justice.

My research focuses on hermeneutics: the philosophy of interpretation and understanding.  Specifically, I examine the implications of hermeneutics for teaching and learning, educational policy, and the humanities.  My recent work: a.) contrasts hermeneutic self-understanding and constructivist agency and explores the implications of these differences for doctoral education; b.) compares hermeneutic social science and post-positivist social science; and c.) uses hermeneutics as a framework to analyze the experience of acknowledging white privilege.  

In addition to my position in the College of Education, I am a member of the Jewish Studies faculty.

Ph.D., Stanford University: Philosophy of Education
M.A., Stanford University: Religious Studies
M.S.Ed., University of Southern California: Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education
M.A., Hebrew Union College: Jewish Education With Honors
B.A., Pitzer College: English and American Literature With Honors
Fellowships, honors and awards

President, Philosophy of Education Society: 2016-2017

Inaugural William Cutter Scholar-in-Residence, Hebrew Union College: 2009

Honorary Doctorate, Hebrew Union College: 2006

National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow: 1996-1998

Rhea Hirsch Award for Scholarship in Jewish Education, Hebrew Union College: 1980 and 1981

Anna Grancell Award for Scholarship, Hebrew Union College: 1980 and 1981


Kerdeman, D. (2015) Preparing Educational Researchers: The Role of Self-Doubt. Educational Theory 65(6), 719-738.

Kerdeman, D. (2015). Interpretation, Social Science, and Educational Research. In David Bridges, Nicholas C. Burbules, Morwenna Griffiths, and Paul Smeyers (eds.), International Handbook of Interpretation in Educational Research Methods (pp. 17-37). New York: Springer.

Kerdeman, D. (2014). Hermeneutics. In Denis C. Phillips (ed.), SAGE Encyclopedia of Educational Theory and Philosophy (pp. 375-383). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Kerdeman, D. (2012). Postmodernism. In James A. Banks (ed.), Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education (pp. 1678-1682). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Kerdeman, D. (2010). Engaging With Others: Philosophy of Education 2009. In Deborah Kerdeman (ed.), Philosophy of Education 2009 (pp. xi-xvi). Urbana, IL: Philosophy of Education Society.

Kerdeman, D. (2009). Why the Best Isn’t So Bad: Moderation and Ideals in Education Reform. Educational Theory 59(5), 511-531.

Kerdeman, D. (2004). Pulled Up Short: Challenges for Education. In Kal Alston (ed.), Philosophy of Education 2003 (pp. 208-216). Urbana, IL: Philosophy of Education Society.

Kerdeman, D. (2003). Pulled Up Short: Challenging Self-Understanding as a Focus of Teaching and Learning. Journal of Philosophy of Education 37(2), 293-308.

Kerdeman, D. (1999). Between Interlochen and Idaho: Hermeneutics and Education for Understanding. In Steve Tozer (ed.), Philosophy of Education 1998 (pp. 272-279). Urbana, IL: Philosophy of Education Society.

Kerdeman, D. (1998). Hermeneutics and Education: Understanding, Control, and Agency. Educational Theory 48(2), 241-266.

Kerdeman, D. and Phillips, D.C. (1993). Empiricism and the Knowledge Base of Educational Practice. Review of Educational Research 63(3). Washington, D.C.: American Educational Research Association, 305-313.


Introduction to Educational Inquiry
Two-quarter sequence of courses required for all 1st year Ph.D. students in our College of Education.  Typically I co-teach this course with a colleague in the College of Education who specializes in quantitative and/or qualitative social science.     

Introduction to Philosophy of Education

Seminar in Philosophy of Education: Gadamer’s Hermeneutics

Seminar in Philosophy of Education: Social Science, Social Justice, and Qualitative Research

Seminar in Philosophy of Education: Philosophical Issues in Interpretive Research

Education as a Moral Endeavor

Topics and Tensions in School and Society: Elementary and Secondary Teacher Education