Mitzi Lewison is a professor in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education. Her research includes studies on school university partnerships, critical literacy, and using children’s literature to teach for social justice. Her 2002 article, Taking on critical literacy: The journey of newcomers and novices, is highly cited and the first publication that led to her work that developed an instructional theory of critical literacy.
Upon arriving at IU, Lewison discovered that there was no field experience for elementary teacher education students during their literacy cluster (reading and writing methods). She worked with a colleague to establish partnerships with the principals and teachers of four local elementary schools so that IU students could practice what they were learning in class in school settings. Connected to this effort was the creation of teacher study groups led by Lewison, other IU faculty, and graduate students that met monthly and focused on teaching reading, writing, and critical literacy. These study groups with local teachers continued for seven years.
At this point Lewison became intrigued with education in Afghanistan and has worked there since 2006 as the Primary Investigator on two recently completed projects. The first, the Afghanistan Higher Education Project, was designed to rebuild the teacher education system at 18 universities in Afghanistan. This U.S. Agency for International Development funded program included bringing twelve Afghans to IU who received master's degrees in the School of Education, supervising the English placement testing of 450 Afghan university faculty members, coordinating semester-long intensive English classes for non-English Afghan faculty, providing intensive professional development for English faculty in teacher education departments, and creating English programs for students and faculty at Kabul Medical University and regional medical schools around the country.
The second project, the Indiana University/Kabul Education University—M.Ed. TESOL Project, was a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of State’s Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. The program was a university-to-university partnership with IU’s School of Education assisting Kabul Education University in developing Afghanistan’s first high-quality, practice-based, sustainable Master in Education degree program in English. This project has already graduated four cohorts of students, with half of its faculty and students being women.
Lewison serves on the board of the Bloomington Project School and the national Science Center for Inquiry. She is a two-time recipient of the IU School of Education Trustee’s Teaching Award, the Burton Gorman Teaching Award, and is co-author two editions of Teaching Children’s Literature: It’s Critical (Routledge, 2013. 2017) and two editions of Creating Critical Classrooms: Reading and Writing with an Edge (Routledge, 2008, 2015).