Jarvis R. Givens is an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and the Suzanne Young Murray Assistant Professor at the Radcliffe Institute, having earned his Ph.D. in African Diaspora Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. As an interdisciplinary historian, Givens’ research falls at the intersection of the history of American education, 19th and 20th century African American history, and critical theories of race and schooling. Before assuming his position as an assistant professor, Givens was a Dean’s Postdoctoral Fellow at HGSE (2016-2018), a Ford Dissertation and Pre-doctoral Fellow, and a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow.
Givens’ first book, Schooling in Forbidden Fields: Carter G. Woodson and the Demands of Black Education (forthcoming, Harvard University Press), analyzes Carter G. Woodson’s (1875-1950) critiques of the American school, the new curricular materials he developed, and how ordinary teachers put his ideas into practice during Jim Crow. The work looks closely at the subversive pedagogy of these educators as well as students’ experiences with Woodson’s iconic educational program (Negro History Week, textbooks, classroom decorations, etc.). Givens’ historical scholarship has also informed research on contemporary topics of education, specifically looking at the experiences of Black teachers and students in urban schooling. On this front, he is co-editing We Dare Say Love: Supporting Achievement in the Educational Life of Black Boys (forthcoming, Columbia University’s Teachers College Press) with Na’ilah Nasir and Chris Chatmon. This work chronicles the development and implementation of the African American Male Achievement Initiative in Oakland Unified School District, following a small group of Black male educators who changed district policy and practice to create a learning experience for Black boys rooted in love. Givens has published in journals such as: Race Ethnicity and Education, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, Harvard Educational Review, and more. He is a life member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and a contributor to Black Perspectives (blog of the African American Intellectual History Society).
Givens’ emerging research is developing in two distinct directions. The first centers on interrogating silences in the archives of Black educational history and exploring possibilities for expanding this archive by building on new approaches in digital humanities. Secondly, he is exploring lessons to be gleaned from the history of Black teacher associations in support of contemporary efforts to recruit and retain African American educators.