Research Interests

Development of Children & Youth
Equity Studies
Historical & Philosophical Foundations of Education
Multicultural Education
Social Studies

Walter Parker

Emeritus Professor

I am a professor emeritus of social studies education and (by courtesy) political science at the University of Washington, a senior fellow at the Center for Ethics in Education at the University of Wisconsin, a member of the National Academy of Education, and a fellow of the American Educational Research Association. My specializations are social studies curriculum and instruction K-12 and the civic development of youth. My new book is "Education for Liberal Democracy: Using Classroom Discussion to Build Knowledge and Voice" (2023). See my CV for other books, journal articles, and book reviews.

I continue work on three projects: One aims to create a more engaging, authentic, and rigorous form of high school coursework--one that doesn't mistake superficial "coverage" at a fast pace for deeper, meaningful learning. Working closely with classroom teachers, my team developed a project-based approach to the high school AP Government course. Its innovations include cyclical learning of core concepts alongside immersion in political simulations. A second project aims to restore a robust social studies curriculum to the elementary and middle grades. Without this foundation in the lower grades, high school coursework has too little to build on. A third project examines civic education in the USA and elsewhere. Who creates its curriculum? What curriculum have they created? By what authority do they create it? And how does the unifying project of civic education deal with the diversifying forces of liberalism and multiculturalism?

Ph.D., Curriculum and Instruction, University of Washington, Seattle
M.A. Social Foundations of Education, University of Colorado, Denver
B.A. Political Science, University of Colorado, Boulder



See my CV


Books & Monographs

Parker, W. C. (2023). Education for Liberal Democracy: Using Classroom Discussion to Build Knowledge and Voice. New York: Teachers College Press.

Beck, T. A. & Parker, W. C.  (2022). Social Studies in Elementary Education (16th ed.). New York: Pearson.

Parker, W. C. (2015). Social Studies Today: Research and Practice (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Banks, J. A., Banks, C. A. M., Cortes, C. E., Hahn, C. L., Merryfield, M. M., Moodley, K. A., Murphy-Shigematsu, S., Osler, A., Park, C., and Parker, W. C. (2005). Democracy and Diversity: Principles and Concepts for Educating citizens in a Global Age. Seattle: Center for Multicultural Education, University of Washington.

Parker, W. C. (2003). Teaching Democracy: Unity and Diversity in Public Life. New York: Teachers College Press.

Parker, W. C. (Ed.). (2002). Educationfor Democracy: Contexts, Curricula, Assessments. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

Parker, W. C. (Ed.). (1996). Educating the Democratic Mind. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Parker, W. C. (1991). Renewing the Social Studies Curriculum. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Parker, W. C. & Jarolimek, J. (1984). Citizenship and the Critical Role of the Social Studies. Boulder, CO: Social Science Education Consortium.

Recent Book Chapters

Parker, W. C. (2022). Structured academic controversy: What it can be. In J. Lo (Ed.), Making classroom discussions work (pp. 73-89). New York: Teachers College Press.

Parker, W. C. (2018). Foreword. In K. Swan, J. Lee, & S. G. Grant (Eds.), Inquiry design model: Building inquiries in social studies. Silver Spring, MD: National Council for the Social Studies.

Parker, W. C. (2018). Afterword. In M. Helmsing, A. M. Whitlock, & D. G. Krutka (Eds.), Keywords in social studies (pp. 369-372). New York: Peter Lang.

Parker, W. C. (2018). Going for depth in civic education: A design experiment. In C. S. White (Ed.), Democracy’s discontent and civic learning: Multiple perspectives (pp. 233-254). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

Parker, W. C., & Lo, J. C. (2018). From design to deed: a guide to simulating government and politics on the AP platform. In C. Wright-Maley (Ed.), More like life itself: Simulations as powerful and purposeful social studies. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Press.

Parker, W. C. (2017). Toward powerful human rights education in schools. In J. A. Banks (Ed.), Citizenship education and global migration: implications for theory, research, and teaching (pp. 457-481). Washington, DC: AERA.

Parker, W. C. (2015). Social Studies Education eC21. In Parker, W. C. (Ed.), Social Studies Today: Research and Practice, 2nd ed. (pp. 3-12). New York: Routledge.

Parker, W. C. (2014). Travels with (un)conventional wisdom. In C. Woyshner (Ed.), Leaders in Social Education (pp. 151-162). Rotterdam: Sense.

Parker, W. C. (2014). Citizenship education in the United States: Regime type, foundations, and classroom practice. In L. P. Nucci, D. Narvaez & T. Krettenauer (Eds.), The Handbook of Moral and Character Education, 2nd ed. (pp. 347-367). New York: Routledge.

Parker, W. C. (2012). Democracy, diversity, and schooling. In J. A. Banks (Ed.), The encyclopedia of diversity in education (pp. 613-620). New York: Sage.

Recent Journal Articles

*Valencia, S. W., Parker, W. C., & Lo, J. C. (2023). Assessing deeper learning of high-school civics. Journal of Social Science Education.

Parker, W. C. (2023). Windows and mirrors. Social Studies Journal, 43(2), 9-12.

Parker, W. C. (2022). Migration and U. S. citizenship: A curriculum proposal (review of “Civic education in the age of mass migration,” by A. M. Banks. Multicultural Perspectives, 24(4), 241-148.

Parker, W. C. (2018). Human rights education's curriculum problem. Human Rights Education Review, 1(1), 5-24.

Parker, W. C. (2018). Projects as the spine of a course: designs for deeper learningSocial Education, 82(1), 45-48. 

Parker, W. C. (2017). Bringing human rights education home (Review of "Human Rights and Schooling,” by Audrey Osler). Theory and Research in Social Education, 45(3), 413-421.

*Parker, W. C., Valencia, S., &  Lo, J. (2017). “Teaching for deeper political learning: a design experiment." Journal of Curriculum Studies. doi:10.1080/00220272.2017.1343386

Parker, W. C. &  Lo, J. (2016). “Give us your best advice.” Social Education, 80(4), 227-231.

*Parker, W. C. &  Lo, J. (2016). “Content selection in advanced courses.” Curriculum Inquiry, 46(2), 196-219.

*Parker, W. C. &  Lo, J. (2016). “Reinventing the high school government course: Rigor, simulations, and learning from text.” Democracy & Education, 24(1), Article 6.

*Valencia, S. W. & Parker, W. C.  (2016). "Learning from text in an advanced U.S. Government and Politics course." Citizenship Teaching and Learning, 11(1), 87-103.

*Parker, W. C. et al. (2013). “Beyond breadth-speed-test: Toward deeper knowing and engagement in an Advanced Placement course.” American Educational Research Journal, 50(6), 1424-1459.

Parker, W. C. (2012). “Their minds must be improved to a certain degree": A learning cycles approach to inquiry. Humanities and Social Studies Education in Singapore 1(1), 1-6.

Parker, W. C. (2011). Feel free to change your mind: a response essay to "The Potential for Deliberative Democratic Civic Education". Democracy & Education, 19(2), 1-4.

*Parker, W. C. (2011). "'International Education' in U.S. Public Schools." Globalisation, Societies and Education, 9:(3-4), 487-501.

*Parker, W. C. (2011). "Constructing Public Schooling Today: Derision, Multiculturalism, Nationalism." Educational Theory, 61(4), 413-432.

Courses developed and taught

EDTEP 584&585:  Social Studies in the Secondary School

EDTEP 543: Social Studies in the Elementary School

EDC&I 565&566: Social Studies Seminar—Historical and Contemporary Readings

EDC&I595: Classroom Discourse

EDC&I505a: Contentious Curricula

EDC&I505b: Strategies for Interpreting Qualitative Data (semiotics, ethnomethodology, dramaturgy)

EDC&I 567: Current Issues in Social Studies Education:

  • Civic Education in the USA
  • Global Education and Pedagogies of Globalization
  • Education for Democracy
  • Teaching Controversial Issues