University at Buffalo

Melinda Lemke (she/her/hers)

Melinda Lemke

Educational Leadership and Policy for Equity Minor Director

Associate Professor


Specialty/Research Focus

Critical Policy Analysis; Gender Studies; Gender, Culture, and Equity; Global Issues; Educational Policy; Legal Issues; Qualitative Research Methods; Politics of Education; Wellness

Contact Information
University at Buffalo, SUNY
Graduate School of Education
Buffalo, NY 14260-1000

Professional Summary:

My research focuses on the politics of education, and how social policies address structural violence to center the health, well-being, and human rights of young women and girls. This includes investigating policy actor knowledge, discourse, and decision-making processes in an era of ongoing neoliberal and settler colonial reform. This also involves considering how power and normative culture factor into said processes. Both areas rely upon interdisciplinarity and qualitative methods to examine causes, effects, and public sector responses to gender-based violence and forced displacement.

My research, teaching, and service are informed by work in sexual assault prevention and advocacy, and a previous career in U.S. public secondary education - each of which inspire the centering of transparent, reciprocal, and co-constructed partnerships to support the common good and improve the social determinants of health for students, families, and communities.

Current projects include development of feminist policy analysis tools and critique of intersecting social policies that delimit, dislocate, and engender structural trauma and disposability - with ongoing research questions concerning (un)intended policy consequences, for whom do policies work, and to what ends for collective futurity.

My work can be found in outlets such as Children's Geographies, Educational Policy, Gender and Education, Journal of Education Policy, and The Urban Review. Select practitioner career achievements include a J. William Fulbright Fellowship to South Korea, James Madison Memorial Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities Outstanding Teaching Award, and National Board Certification (Secondary Social Studies).

• UB Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention
• UB Community for Excellence in Global Health Equity (Refugee Health and Wellbeing co-Lead)
• UB Department of Global Gender & Sexuality Studies
• UB Gender Institute (Executive Committee)
• UB Honors College
• Childhood, Law, Policy Network, Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom Arts and Humanities Research Council
• University of Huddersfield, International Advisory Group for the Ni3 Centre for the Prevention of Gender-based Violence

• HON 214: Critical Policy Analysis in Education
• HON 499: CRT & Education
• ELP 200: Foundations of Educational Policy & Leadership for Social Justice
• ELP 405: Sociology of Education
• ELP 500: The Nature of Inquiry
• ELP 626: Policy Formation & Analysis
• ELP 652: Leadership & Policy for Inclusion
• ELP 687: Introduction to Qualitative Methodology & Design
• ELP 689: Critical Policy Analysis
• ELP 695: Educational Policy & Economic Justice
• LAI 620: Intersectionality & Education
• LAI 626: Advanced Qualitative Methods

Please visit my ORCID and LinkedIn profiles to learn more about my work.

Education and Training:
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Swansea University, Wales, United Kingdom, Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law, Observatory on Human Rights of Children and Young People
  • PhD, The University of Texas at Austin, Educational Policy and Planning; Gender Studies concentration
  • MEd, The University of Texas at Austin, Curriculum and Instruction; Government concentration
  • BSED; BA; minor, Bucknell University, Secondary Education; History; Law
Awards and Honors:
  • Paula Silver Case Award for the following article: Lemke, M., Bascug, E., & Howard, A. (2022). Seen yet unseen: A case of human trafficking at Harris High School. Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership, 25(2), 153-168.; University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA); 2023-10-15;
  • Honors College, Graduate School of Education Faculty Fellow; University at Buffalo; 2021-08-30;
  • Faculty-in-Residence Award; Graduate School of Education, University at Buffalo, SUNY; 2018-01-01;
  • Refugee Health and Well-being Faculty Fellow; Community of Excellence in Global Health Equity, University at Buffalo, SUNY; 2017-01-01;
  • Politics of Education Association Outstanding Dissertation Award; Division B (Curriculum Studies) Outstanding Dissertation Recognition Award, 2016; American Educational Research Association; 2016-04-01;
Recent Publications:
Journal Special Issue:
  • Shubin, S. & Lemke, M. (Eds.) (2020). Children displaced across borders: Charting new directions for research from interdisciplinary perspectives. Children’s Geographies, 18(5), 505-515.
Journal Article:
  • Breese, A., Nickerson, A., Lemke, M., Mohr, R., Fredrick, S., Heidelburg, K., & Allen, K. (2023). Examining implicit biases of pre-service educators within a professional development context. Contemporary School Psychology. 1-16.
  • Lemke, M. & Rogers, K. (2022). A feminist critical heuristic for educational policy analysis: U.S. social emotional learning policy. Journal of Education Policy, 1-26.
Book Chapter:
  • Lemke, M. & White, A. (2024). Student adversity and leader stress: A critical race contextualization and analysis of state social emotional learning policy. In B. W. Carpenter, J. Mahfouz, & K. Washington (Eds.), Supporting leaders for school improvement through self-care and well-being (pp. 151-174). Information Age Publishing, Inc.
  • Lemke, M. (2024). Critical and feminist cartographies of observation: Procedural, personal, and political considerations in the documentation and analysis of life worlds. In M. D. Young & S. Diem (Eds.), Handbook of critical education research: Qualitative, quantitative, and emerging approaches (pp. 590-611). Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781003141464-35
Recent Grants:
  • Faculty Equity Grant; Local; Community of Excellence in Global Health Equity, University of Buffalo, SUNY; Awarded; (03/27/2023-07/31/2023)
  • District Residency, Retention, and Community Well-being: A Policy Analysis at the Intersection of Class, Gender, and Race; Local; Gender Institute, University at Buffalo, SUNY; Awarded; (12/23/2022-12/31/2023)
  • Co-constructing Public Knowledge: Centering Sexual Violence in Educational Research, Policy, and Practices Concerning Adolescent Girl Trauma; State; Community of Excellence in Global Health Equity Micro-Grant, University at Buffalo, SUNY; Awarded; (07/01/2021-05/01/2022)
  • Turnaround Micro-Credential; State; New York State Department of Education; Awarded; (06/01/2019-09/30/2020)
  • Locating the Global within the Local: Understanding School Responses to Refugee Youth Mental Health; State; Community of Excellence in Global Health Equity, University at Buffalo; Awarded; (01/01/2018-01/23/2019)
Recent Activities:
Professional Service:
  • OpEdProject Publics Alumni Ambassador
  • Board Member and Secretary, Fulbright Association, Fulbright Chapter of WNY/NWPA
  • Willystine Goodsell Award Committee, SIG: Research on Women in Education, American Educational Research Association
  • University Council for Educational Administration Plenary Representative
  • Women Educators Member Elect (At-Large), SIG: Research on Women in Education, American Educational Research Association
Recent Editorships:
  • Editorial Board Member; Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership
  • Associate Editor; Leadership and Policy in Schools
  • Editorial Board Member; Leadership and Policy in Schools

Contact Information

University at Buffalo, SUNY
Graduate School of Education
Buffalo, NY 14260-1000