Deepa Vasudevan

Deepa Vasudevan
B.A., Haverford College; Ed.D., Ed.M., Harvard Graduate School of Education

Deepa Vasudevan

Visiting Lecturer in Education

Explores the working lives and identities of community based youth workers and the experiences of adolescents in out-of-school time activities.

I am broadly interested in the social, cultural, and organizational dynamics of community-based youth programs as framed by issues of social inequality. I recently graduated from Harvard Graduate School of Education with a doctorate in Culture, Communities, and Education. For my dissertation, I explored how experienced youth workers – the adult practitioners who mentor, educate, and support youth – understand their occupational identities and persistence in a field often associated with emotional burnout, low salaries, and frequent career exits. I am also engaged in research about the out-of-school experiences of undocumented youth through the National UnDACAmented Research Project.

At Wellesley, I currently teach two courses in the Education department: "Understanding and Improving Schools" and a new practicum, "Youth Development in Community-Based Programs." "Understanding and Improving Schools" is a semester-long inquiry into understanding schools as both institutions of learning, hope, and possibility as well as sites of oppression, which have mirrored and reproduced social inequities. We engage in the works of education scholars, critical theorists, sociologists, anthropologists, and historians to explore key themes in schooling and education reform in the United States. Through class conversations and course assignments, students have several opportunities to explore and connect readings to their own experiences and interests in education. In "Youth Development in Community-Based Programs," students engage in an academic seminar that complements their semester volunteer work at an afterschool program. The goal is for students to connect research and theory on afterschool settings and youth development to enrich their field experience, and vice versa. 

I have served as an editor for the Harvard Educational Review, a scholarly journal with an emphasis on social justice that covers a wide range of current topics in education. Prior to graduate school, I worked for four years in Philadelphia at the Out-of-School Time Resource Center, coordinating training, evaluation, and capacity building services for afterschool programs and practitioners across the city. The diversity and richness of practitioner experience in this city deeply informs and motivates my research interests.