University at Buffalo

Melinda Lemke

Melinda Lemke

Assistant Professor


Specialty/Research Focus

Gender, Culture, and Equity; Educational Policy; Leadership; Legal Issues; Urban Education; Linguistic, Discourse, and Sociocultural Context; Mental Health; Politics of Education; Qualitative Research Methods

Contact Information
470 Baldy Hall
North Campus
Phone: (716) 645-1090

Professional Summary:

Melinda Lemke is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy. An interdisciplinary, qualitative educational policy researcher, her body of work focuses on the politics of education and how educational organizations address equity issues and the specific needs of underserved youth. The first area is concerned with how power affects educational policy, programming, and schooling processes. The second examines how neoliberal sociopolitical and normative culture shapes educational actor decision-making and youth schooling experience. Situating her work within critical and feminist theoretical traditions, Melinda has researched gender violence and prevention; neoliberal policy reform and implementation; trafficking and immigration policy; refugee student trauma and resettlement; and practitioner self-care. Melinda is co-lead of a UB Community of Excellence in Global Health Equity Big Ideas team (Refugee Health and Well-being), Gender Institute affiliate, and Associate Editor for Leadership and Policy in Schools. Among other outlets, her work is published in the American Journal of Sexuality Education, Children's Geographies, Educational Policy, Policy Futures in Education, and The Urban Review. Prior to her position at UB, Melinda was a postdoctoral research associate for the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law, Observatory on Human Rights of Children and Young People at Swansea University, Wales, United Kingdom. Her research and university teaching is shaped by a previous career in U.S. urban public education.

Melinda currently teaches in the Educational Administration and Educational Leadership and Policy for Equity (ELPE) minor programs. She previously taught in the Economics and Educational Policy Analysis program, and served as ELPE program advisor.

ELP 200: Foundations of Education Policy & Leadership for Social Justice
ELP 405: Sociology of Education
ELP 500: The Nature of Inquiry
ELP 652: Leadership and Policy for Inclusion
ELP 687: Introduction to Qualitative Methodology & Design in Educational Administration
ELP 689: Critical Policy Analysis
ELP 695: Education Policy and Economic Justice

April 13, 2020. Scholarship and practice at the margins: Envisioning education that challenges silence and bridges divides. Buffalo, NY: University at Buffalo, SUNY. Retrieved from

February 11, 2020. Continuing the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Discussion: Invited Speaker, Youth violence, sexual trauma, and schools: Responsibly framing and focusing the conversation. University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. Retrieved from

August 28, 2018. Addressing the mental health needs of youth experiencing trauma: Searching for insights into school-level policy and practice. Buffalo, NY: University at Buffalo, SUNY. Retrieved from

February 6, 2018. Graduate School of Education News Ticker – Understanding the global within the local: Educational policy and programmatic supports for displaced youth. Buffalo, NY: University at Buffalo, SUNY. Retrieved from

Education and Training:
  • PhD, The University of Texas at Austin, Educational Policy and Planning; Women's and Gender Studies Concentration; Texas Education Review Founding Managing Editor
  • MEd, The University of Texas at Austin, Curriculum and Instruction; Government Concentration
  • BSED; BA, Bucknell University, Secondary Education; History
Awards and Honors:
  • University at Buffalo Individual Development Award, 2017; UUP;
  • Community for Global Health Equity Fellow (Refugee Health and Well-being in Buffalo), 2017-present; University at Buffalo;
  • Division B (Curriculum Studies) Outstanding Dissertation Recognition Award, 2016; American Educational Research Association;
  • Politics of Education Association Outstanding Dissertation Award, 2016; American Educational Research Association;
  • Swansea University Research Grant Enabler (SURGE) Recipient, 2016; Swansea University;
  • Graduate School Named Continuing Dissertation Fellowship, 2014; The University of Texas at Austin;
  • Faculty in Residence, 2018; University at Buffalo, Graduate School of Education;
  • Study Abroad Costa Rica Incubator, “Designing and Implementing Transformative Global Learning Experiences,” Travel Award, 2018; University at Buffalo, International Education;
  • Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Fellow, 2014; The University of Texas at Austin;
  • David L. Clark National Fellow in Educational Administration and Policy, 2013; University Council for Educational Administration;
  • Institute of American History Fellow, 2009; Gilder Lehrman;
  • Landmarks of American History and Culture Fellow, 2008; National Endowment for the Humanities;
  • James Madison Memorial Master's Fellowship, 2003; James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation;
  • J. William Fulbright Foreign Fellowship, 2001; U.S. Department of State;
  • Locating the Global within the Local: Understanding School Responses to Refugee Youth Mental Health; State; Community of Excellence in Global Health Equity; Awarded; (01/01/2018-01/23/2019)
Journal Special Issue:
  • Shubin, S. & Lemke, M. (2020). Children displaced across borders: Charting new directions for research from interdisciplinary perspectives. Children’s Geographies, (Online first), 1-11. doi: 10.1080/14733285.2020.1781061
  • Lemke, M. (Ed.). (2018). The politics of educational (un)deservedness and (in)visibility: Examining economic justice issues in education. Texas Education Review.
Journal Article:
  • Lemke, M. & Rogers, K. (2020). When sexting crosses the line: Educator responsibilities in the support of prosocial adolescent behavior and prevention of violence. Social Sciences, 9(9), 1-14. doi:10.3390/socsci9090150
  • Lemke, M. (2020). (Un)doing spatially fixed inequality: Critical reflections on urban school district-community partnerships. The Urban Review. (Online first), 1-27. doi: 10.1007/s11256-020-00587-7
  • Lemke, M. & Nickerson, A. (2020). Educating refugee and hurricane displaced youth in troubled times: Countering the politics of fear through culturally responsive and trauma-informed schooling. Children’s Geographies. (Online first). doi: 10.1080/14733285.2020.1740650
  • Lemke, M. (2019). Educators as the “front line” of human trafficking prevention: An analysis of state-level educational policy. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 18(3), 284-304. doi:10.1080/15700763.2017.1398337
  • Lemke, M. (2019). The politics of ‘giving student victims a voice’: A feminist analysis of state trafficking policy implementation. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 14(1), 74-108. doi:10.1080/15546128.2018.1524805
  • Lemke, M., & Zhu, L. (2018). Successful futures? New economy business logics, child rights, and Welsh educational reform. Policy Futures in Education, 16(3) 251-276. doi:10.1177/1478210317751269
  • Jabbar, H., Sun, W., Lemke, M., & Germain, E. (2018). Gender, markets, and inequality: A framework for examining how market-based reforms impact female leaders. Educational Policy, 32(6) 755-796. doi: 10.1177/0895904816673740.
  • Lemke, M. (2017). Critical educational “alternatives” to foregone neoliberal conclusions: A book review of Imagining education: Beyond the logic of global neoliberal capitalism. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 15(3), 402-409.
  • Lemke, M. (2017). Trafficking and immigration policy: Intersections, inconsistencies, and implications for public education. Educational Policy, 31(6), 743-763. doi: 10.1177/0895904817719528
  • Nsonwu, M., Welch-Brewer, C., Cook Heffron, L., Lemke, M., Busch-Armendariz, N., Sulley, C., Warren Cook, S., Lewis, M., Watson, E., Moore, W., Crume, Y., & Li, J. (2017). Development and validation of an instrument to assess social work students’ perceptions, knowledge, and attitudes about human trafficking (PKA-HT questionnaire): An exploratory study. Research on Social Work Practice, 27(5), 561-571. doi:10.1177/1049731515578537
Book Chapter:
  • Lemke, M. (2020). Title IX in the era of #MeToo: An (un)silenced majority? In J. L. Surface & K. A. Keiser (Eds.), Women in educational leadership: A practitioner’s handbook (pp. 73-90). Burlington, Ontario: Word & Deed Publishing.
  • Murshid, N. S., Lemke, M., Hussain, A., & Siddiqui, S. (2020). Combating gender-based violence: Perspectives from Social Work, Education, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Medical Anthropology. In P. K. Ram & K. Smith (Eds). Transforming global health: Interdisciplinary challenges, perspectives, and strategies (pp. 83-96). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
  • Lemke, M. (2017). Addressing violence in schools: Feminist praxis and a pedagogy of risk. In J. L. Martin, A. E. Nickels, & M. L. Sharp-Grier (Eds.), Feminist pedagogy, practice, and activism: Improving the lives of girls and women (pp. 140-157). New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Lemke, M. (2016). Building anti-bullying and socially just school spaces: Educational context, dynamics, and research considerations. In A. Osanloo & J. Schwartz (Eds.), Creating and negotiating collaborative spaces for socially-just anti-bullying interventions for K-12 schools (pp. ix-xxi). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
  • Lemke, M. (2016). Feminist organizations. In N. Naples, R. C. Hoogland, M. Wickramasinghe, & A. Wong (Eds.), The Wiley-Blackwell encyclopedia of gender and sexuality studies (pp. 1-3). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Lemke, M. (2015). (Un)making the neoliberal agenda in public education: A critical discourse analysis of Texas high school social studies policy processes and standards. In K. M. Sturges (Ed.), Neoliberalizing educational reform: America’s quest for profitable market colonies and the undoing of public good (pp. 53-77). Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
Editorial and Review:
  • American Educational Research Association Annual Conference Reviewer
  • University Council for Educational Administration Annual Conference Reviewer
Professional Service:
  • Leadership and Policy in Schools Associate Editor
  • Leadership and Policy in Schools Editorial Board Member
  • Women Educators Member Elect (At-Large), SIG: Research on Women in Education, American Educational Research Association

    Contact Information

    470 Baldy Hall
    North Campus
    Phone: (716) 645-1090