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Because We Can Change the World

Educator • Activist • author • SPEAKER

Mara Sapon-Shevin

I am a Professor of Inclusive Education at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. A long-time educator and activist, my life’s work  has focused on changing how we respond to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion so that we can create a world that is socially just. I believe that creating a better world for all requires us to change how we teach children, how we prepare teachers, and how we help adults become active allies in resisting oppressive language and behavior. 

Specifically, I have taught and written about community building, inclusion, teaching for social justice, preparing teachers for heterogeneous classroom, gifted education, cooperative learning, and using music and movement to create inclusive communities that challenge oppression and injustice. I believe we CAN change the world through what we say and do and by putting principles into action with integrity and love. 

Mara Sapon-Shevin


Some books I have authored, co-authored and edited.


Articles I’ve written about various aspects of inclusion and social justice


Presentations I‘ve given on social justice topics


Great places to explore social justice education online

"The primary obligation of educators is to assist in the realization of each student's full humanity."
Mara Sapon-Shevin

About me

Mara Sapon-Shevin is Professor of Inclusive Education in the Teaching and Leadership Department of the School of Education at Syracuse University. She teaches in the University’s Inclusive Elementary and Special Education Teacher Education Program that prepares teachers for inclusive, heterogeneous classrooms.  She frequently consults with districts that are attempting to more towards more inclusive schools, providing workshops and support for teachers and administrators. She has also served as an expert witness in several due process hearings related to students with disabilities. 

Mara presents frequently on inclusive education, anti-bullying strategies, cooperative learning, social justice education, differentiated instruction, friendship, community building, school reform and teaching for diversity. 

Mara also works with faculty in higher education on positive responses to classroom diversity, dealing with microaggressions and creating university classrooms that are truly inclusive. 

Diversity and social justice

Publications about promoting social justice and liberating approaches to diversity

Inclusive education equality symbol

Publications about creating inclusive classrooms and preparing teachers for inclusion

music note icon

Publications about using music and movement to model and teach about social justice

lamda sign over pink triangle sybolizing LGBTQI section

Publications about teaching and activitism about LGBTQI people

Possibilities for bringing me to engage with your school or organization


Interviews, podcasts and presentations about social justice activism


Americans Who Tell the Truth

I was deeply honored to be painted by Robert Shetterly as part of his project Americans Who Tell the Truth: Models of Courageous Citizenship

Rob’s portraits provide inspiring examples of individuals who have worked to make a difference in all aspects of justice —- racial, environmental, gender, sexuality —- and provides a wonderful resource for teaching and curriculum development. 

This interview was part of Rob’s visit to our campus where all 256 portraits were on display in November, 2018.

Thanks again for your amazing presentations this past week. My being able to sketch some of your big ideas is testimony to your visual imagery in your talk and PowerPoints. Inspiring.

PROF. STEPHEN D. KROEGER, University of Cincinnati
Mara is a brilliant educator. She's not afraid of difficult conversations, and she's willing to invite everyone to the table--sometimes with probing questions, sometimes with puppets, sometimes with song. What a wonderful experience! We have invited her back again to be a keynoter for our winter 2020 conference.

PROF. AIMEE HOWLEY, Ohio University
For decades, Dr. Mara Sapon-Shevin has been a trailblazer nationally and internationally in scholarship and practice that advance equity and justice in education across varying contexts and intersecting dimensions of diversity. Her expertise, vision, skill, passion, and compassion all run deep, and are needed today more than ever!

KEVIN KUMASHIRO, Ph.D., Award-winning Author and Consultant, Former Dean of the School of Education at the University of San Francisco
We invited Mara to deliver the keynote for our Annual Elementary Inclusive Program Teach-in. We are always looking for inspiration, hope, and ideas for action. Using humor and history, she invigorated our students, alumni, and faculty, leaving us full of concrete ideas to increase inclusivity in our schools and communities.

CELIA OYLER, Professor Teachers College Columbia
Mara Sapon-Shevin is a dynamic, engaging and embodied speaker and facilitator. Her talks and workshops on Disability Studies and intersectional inclusion with diverse university audiences and classes have been extremely relevant and well received. She inspires reflection, action and alliances!

BETH BLUE SWADENER, Professor, Arizona State University
Dr. Sapon-Shevin’s work with our faculty on diversity and inclusion fostered a step forward for the Department of Teaching & Leadership. Mara’s support, thoughtful guidance, and well-planned sessions opened the door for all colleagues in the department to engage meaningfully, speak openly, and think critically about how we work to ensure a diverse, fully-inclusive teaching and learning environment.

Chair, Teaching and Leadership Programs, Syracuse University
As part of her visit at Waikato University Mara provided a provocative keynote to a symposium: Unpacking discourses of colourblindness and invisibility. The symposium attracted colleagues from different faculties across both Waikato and Auckland Universities. Participants commented that her keynote and the discussion it prompted had stimulated had made a valuable contribution to their thinking and commitment to social justice action and collaboration. Mara was very generous with her time during her time with us, spending time talking with and encouraging doctoral students and researchers within the Faculty of Education.

University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand
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