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Kathleen Gallagher

Distinguished Professor, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Research Overview

Dr. Gallagher's research in drama and urban schools/students continues to focus on questions of pedagogy, artistic practice, theatre methodologies, and the social contexts and relations of schooling.

Curriculum Vitae

Academic History

Ph.D "Drama and Self-Construction in a Single-Sex School for Girls". CTL, OISE, University of Toronto, 1998
M.Ed. "Arts Education: The Living Curriculum". CTL, OISE, University of Toronto, 1995
B.Ed. Faculty of Education, Intermediate/Senior Division, Dramatic Arts and French, University of Toronto, 1989
B.A.(Honours) French Literature, University of Toronto, St. Michael's College, 1988

Teaching Overview

Dr. Gallagher teaches graduate courses, specializing in applied theatre, pedagogy, urban school research, school-based ethnographic research, anti-discriminatory education policy and practice, gender and identity construction. Her graduate courses include "Applied Theatre and Performance in Sites of Learning" and “Qualitative Methodology: Challenges and Innovations”.

Representative Publications

See website for details of publications and audio-visual research outputs

Refereed Books

Gallagher, K., & B. Freeman (Eds.) (2016). In Defence of Theatre: Aesthetic Practices and Social Interventions. Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press. (316 pages).

Gallagher, K. (2014) Why Theatre Matters: Urban Youth, Engagement, and a Pedagogy of the Real. Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press. (295 pages)

Gallagher, K. and Neelands, J. (eds.) (2013). Drama and Theatre in Urban Contexts. London: Routledge. (165 pages)

Gallagher, K. (Ed.). (2008). The Methodological Dilemma: Creative, Critical and Collaborative Approaches to Qualitative Research. New York and London: RoutledgeFalmer. (260 pages)

Gallagher, K. (2007). The Theatre of Urban: Youth and Schooling in Dangerous Times. Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press. (222 pages)

Gallagher, K and D. Booth (eds.) (2003) How Theatre Educates: Convergences and Counterpoints with Artists, Scholars and Advocates. Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press. (282 pages)

Gallagher, K. (2000). Drama Education in the Lives of Girls: Imagining Possibilities. Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press. (155 pages)

Research Grants and Contracts

Dr. Gallagher's team recently embarked on the SSHRCC-funded five-year study, Youth, Theatre, Radical Hope and the Ethical Imaginary: an intercultural investigation of drama pedagogy, performance and civic engagement. Situated in England, Canada, Greece, India, and Taiwan. The research interrogates the connection between engaged youth and a thriving democracy by examining the aspirational ideals of democratic theories, the pragmatic conditions of classrooms, and a theatre pedagogy focused on collectively produced and digitally shared work. Results from this study will offer critical insight into the ways in which the concepts of hope and care function in the lives of young people today and in turn how participation in artistic practices and local-global social relations might provoke forms of engaged citizenship worth considering in times of increasing youth social unrest.

Over the last few years, Dr. Gallagher has served in her role as a co-investigator in the Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership, which focuses on the consequences of socio-spatial inequality in metropolitan areas throughout Canada. Dr. Gallagher's study focused on a particular vulnerable population, youth in shelters with a participatory and community-based approach. The team engaged the shelter youth population in critical reflection on aspects of income аnd social inequality that have shaped the educational, work-related and social dimensions of their lives through theatre workshops. The two lead partner organizations were Project: Humanity, a not for profit organization that raises awareness about social issues through the arts and that had worked for several years with Youth Without Shelter, an emergency shelter for homeless youth ages 16-24, located in Jamestown/Rexdale. Under this same grant, she is beginning a new project entitled, Youth Perceptions of Violence, Safety, and Schooling in One Gentrifying Neighbourhood in Toronto.

In 2013, Dr. Gallagher completed the SSHRC-funded 5-year study titled Urban School Performances: The interplay, through live and digital drama, of local-global knowledge about student engagement. This multi-site hypermedia ethnographic study examined both the cultural and everyday performances (of student/school life) and the artistic performances created by youth in the particular context of the urban drama classroom. Its digital media methods were supported by a Canada Fund for Innovation infrastructure grant. Qualitatively, the research addressed questions of subjectivity, space, pedagogy, theatre, and achievement in diverse urban contexts. This work built on a previous study of schools in Toronto and New York city, published in the book The Theatre of Urban: Youth and Schooling in Dangerous Times (University of Toronto Press, 2007) in which school safety and security issues came to the fore in post 9/11 school cultures.

Dr. Gallagher was also under contract with the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario and has recently completed a 2 year project titled, Using Applied Theatre to Change School Culture: An Impact Evaluation and Sustainability Study of ETFO’s Poverty and Education Project. This research evaluated a program implemented by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario that was designed to: generate awareness among teachers about the effects of poverty in students’ academic outcomes; facilitate dialogue among teachers and students about these issues; and encourage teachers to get involved in specific programmatic and pedagogical strategies that might mitigate the effects of poverty on their students’ well-being and school performance. Unique about this project is that the Federation chose a theatre-based approach to provide professional development to its members.

Honours and Awards

In 2015, Dr. Gallagher was awarded the Distinguished Professor award at the University of Toronto, a title reserved for faculty achieving the highest level of accomplishment in their field. In 2004, Dr. Gallagher was awarded a Canada Research Chair which was renewed for a second 5 year term in 2010. Her chair is titled: Theatre, Youth, and Research in Urban Schools. She is the recipient of the 2010 CRC lecture award for the Canadian Association for Women's Studies. She is also the recipient of the Initial Teacher Education Program Teaching Award, OISE/UT, 1999 and 2004; the Salzburg Seminar Fellowship, Kellogg Fellowship: Leadership Across Cultural Boundaries and Geographic Borders, convened at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria, 2003; the Outstanding Books In Curriculum Studies Award, Division B of the American Education Research Association, presented in Seattle, Washington, 2001 for her book Drama Education in the Lives of Girls: Imagining Possibilities, and her book The Theatre of Urban: Youth and Schooling in Dangerous Times was a finalist in the Outstanding Book competition in 2007; The Barbara McIntyre Distinguished Research Award, awarded at the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, 2000; the American Alliance for Theatre and Education Most Distinguished Dissertation Research Award, 1999.

Professional Activities

Invited Conference Presentations:
•October 2009 World Alliance for Arts Education Summit. Theatre and Quality Arts Education. Newcastle University, England (Oct 30, 2009).
•February 2006 Catholic Educators‟ Conference (CISVA) The Bullying Issue: Can We Respond Differently? Vancouver, British Columbia. (February 17, 2006).
Invited Lectures:
Open Concept Lectures. Featured Speaker on Youth and Safety in Schools. (June 7, 2010)
Warwick University, England. In collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Invited speaker. Verbatim Theatre: telling other people’s stories. (May 14, 2010).
Central School of Speech and Drama, England. Research Talk. Performance Research: Urban Cultures and Urban Tales. (May 11, 2010).
Central School of Speech and Drama Faculty Professional Development. Creating a Strong Research Culture among Graduate Students (May 10, 2010).
University of Bergen Masters Drama Program. Creating a Research Program. ( May 6, 2010).
Elementary Teachers‟ Federation of Ontario. Identity and Leadership. Invited Speaker for Women‟s Leadership Series (October 5, 2009).
Graduate Centre for Study of Drama Performance Methodologies. (March 10, 2009)
Faculty of Physical Education and Health. Bringing Gender into View. (February 11, 2009)
Law Society of Upper Canada and the Ontario Justice Education Network (March 2008) The Great Debate: School Safety. Osgoode Hall.
Seminar/Workshop Presentations:
February 10, 2010 Workshop on Theatre Feedback Sessions for the Performing Arts Organizations Network for Education (PAONE) at Canadian Stage Theatre Company.
December 2009, Safe Schools Conference. OISE/UT. Using drama to respond to bullying.
November 8, 2009. Teacher Preparation Workshop Event for Blind Spot at Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People.
February 2009 Drama for Inclusive Practices. Additional Qualifications Course. University of Toronto.
Sept 2009 The Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, Doc Talk Series. International Ethnography and Digital Communications (with Anne Wessels and Burcu Ntelioglou) (September 30, 2009)

Other Information

Under her leadership at the Centre for Urban Schooling, a team of 7 researchers examined, through a multi-case study approach, the Model Schools for Inner Cities TDSB initiative. This study, titled Putting Inner City Students First: A university-school-community partnership, funded by the Council of Ontario Directors of Education, has produced digital outputs for teacher education candidates who aim to better understand the unique challenges of teaching in underserved urban schools. A report of this study has been published in Rolheiser, C., Evans, M. & Gambhir, M. (2011), pp. 108 – 123.


  • –present
    Professor of Education, University of Toronto