IUPUI Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Faculty Directory

Faculty PhotographRobert J. Helfenbein, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Curriculum Studies
Director, Center for Urban and Multicultural Education (CUME)

Office: ES 3126
Phone: 317-278-1408
Fax: 317-274-6864
Email: rhelfenb@iupui.edu

Profile | Degrees | Publications | Awards | Associations | Grant Funding | Expertise | Courses | Links


Rob Helfenbein, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Curriculum Studies at Indiana University-IUPUI and Director of the Center for Urban and Multicultural Education (CUME). He earned his Ph.D. and B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Helfenbein offers courses in Teaching Secondary Social Studies and graduate level courses in qualitative research methods, curriculum theory and urban education. Helfenbein has published and edited numerous research articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Curriculum Inquiry, Educational Studies, Multicultural Perspectives, The Urban Review and book chapters about contemporary education analysis in urban contexts, and co-edited the books Unsettling Beliefs: Teaching Theory to Teachers (2008) and Ethics and International Curriculum Work: The Challenges of Culture and Context (2012). As of January 2013, he is Editor of the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing and President of the Foundation for Curriculum Theory.

Summer 2008 found Helfenbein in Macedonia continuing work related to critical geography education and school reform with the Macedonia Primary Education Project (MPEP). This work, including curriculum development, teacher training, and workshop facilitation continued into 2009 and new projects are beginning in India, Malawi, and a joint project with Turkey and Armenia. Findings related to the MPEP were presented in a 2009 American Educational Research Association Presidential Session at the annual meeting in San Diego, CA. His current research interests include curriculum theorizing in urban contexts, ethics and international education work, cultural studies of education, and the impact of globalization on the lived experience of schools.


  • Ph.D., University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill, School of Education, 2004
  • M.A., Appalachian State University, Boone NC, Social Science Education, 1997
  • B.A., University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Secondary Education -History, 1993


  • Diem, J. &. Helfenbein, R. (Eds.). (2008). Unsettling beliefs: Teaching theory to teachers. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
  • Helfenbein, R. (2012). A new set of questions: The ethics of taking space seriously in Macedonia. In Mason, T. &. Helfenbein, R. (Eds.). (2012). The ethics of international curriculum work: The challenges of culture and context. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
  • Helfenbein, R. (2003). Troubling multiculturalism: The new work order, anti anti-essentialism, and a cultural studies approach to education. Multicultural Perspectives, 5 (4), 10-16.
  • Helfenbein, R. (2004). New times, new stakes: Moments of transit, accountability, and classroom practice. The Review of Education, Pedagogy & Cultural Studies 26(2), 91-109.
  • Helfenbein, R. (2006). Economies of identity: Cultural studies and a curriculum of making place. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing 22(2), 87-100.
  • Helfenbein, R. (2008). Conjuring curriculum, conjuring control: A reading of resistance in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Curriculum Inquiry 38(4). Helfenbein, R. (2008). Conjuring curriculum, conjuring control: A reading of resistance in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Curriculum Inquiry 38(4).
  • Helfenbein, R. (2008). Education writes back: On the future/present of cultural studies of education. Cultural Studies Now Conference Journal 2007. Retrieved March 10, 2008. View Online
  • Helfenbein, R. (2009). Looking through lenses: Culture in classrooms, curriculum, and the crisis of September 11th. Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy6(1).
  • Helfenbein, R. (2010). Thinking through scale: Critical Geography and curriculum spaces. In E. Malewski (Ed.) Curriculum studies handbook: The next moment (304-317). New York: Routledge.
  • Helfenbein, R. (2011). The urbanization of everything: Thoughts on globalization and Education. In S. Tozer, B. Gallegos & A. Henry (Eds.). Handbook of research in social foundations of education. New York: Routledge.
  • Helfenbein, R. (2012). New meridians: Social education and citizenship in a critical geography. In T. Kenreich (Ed.) Geography and social justice in the classroom. New York: Routledge.
  • Helfenbein, R. & Shudak, N.J. (2009). Reconstructing/Reimagining democratic education: From context to theory to practice. Educational Studies 45(1).
  • Helfenbein, R., Stuckey, S., Fennewald, T. & R. Hoffman-Longtin (2011). Non-Didactic, a Culture of Peace, and “Some Cat from Brazil”: A Case Study of Negotiating a Dialogic Curriculum with Incarcerated Girls. The Urban Review 43:507–527.
  • Segall, A. & Helfenbein, R. (2008). Research on K-12 geography education. In L. Levstik & C. Tyson (Eds.) Handbook of research in social studies education (pp.259-283). New York: Routledge.
  • Smiley, A. & Helfenbein, R. (2011). Becoming teachers: The Payne effect. Multicultural Perspectives 13(1)
  • Smith, J. S. & Helfenbein, R. (2009). Translational research in education: Collaboration & commitment in urban contexts. In W. S. Gershon (Ed.), The collaborative turn: Working together in qualitative research (pp.89-104). Rotterdam, NL: Sense.


  • Indiana Trustees' Teaching Award, 2007
  • G. Pritchy Smith Multicultural Education Award (NAME), 2006 nominee
  • Early Career Award, AERA SIG Critical Issues in Curriculum and Cultural Studies, 2005-2006
  • Outstanding Paper, AERA SIG Research in Social Studies, 2004


  • American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies, 2001-present
  • American Educational Studies Association, 2002-present
  • Association of Cultural Studies, 2002-present
  • College and University Faculty Assembly of the National Council of the Social Studies, 2001-present
  • History Educators Network of Indiana (HENI), 2006-present, Chair
  • Indiana Council for History Education, 2006-present
  • Indiana Council for the Social Studies, 2006-present

Grant Funding

  • (2010-2011 granted) co-PI, Agency: US Embassy-Federal Assistance Grant
  • (2010-2011 granted) co-PI, Agency: National Science Foundation
  • (2008-2009 granted) co-PI, Agency: IU Center for P-16 Collaboration
  • (2007-2008 granted) PI, Agency: Peace Learning Center
  • (2007-2008 granted) co-PI, Agency: The Lumina Foundation for Education
  • (2007 granted) co-PI, Agency: Indiana Department of Education $33,675.00
  • (2006-2007 granted) PI, Agency: Philanthropic Gift $32,000.00


  • Cultural Studies of Education
  • Curriculum Theory
  • Educational Foundations
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Social Studies Education
  • Urban Education


  • EDUC-G 830 Readings in Geography (GEOG) 2
  • EDUC-H 340 Education and American Culture
  • EDUC-H 520 Education and Social Issues
  • EDUC-H 590 / EDUC-S 519 Independent Study: Readings in Urban Education I and II
  • EDUC-H 590 Independent Study: Readings in Curriculum
  • EDUC-J 500 Instruction in the Context of Curriculum
  • EDUC-J 670 History of Curriculum Thought in the U.S.
  • EDUC-M 442 Teaching Secondary Social Studies
  • EDUC-S 420 Teaching and Learning in Middle School
  • EDUC-S 490 Research in Secondary Education
  • EDUC-W 505 Race, Place, and Memory (Summer Seminar)
  • EDUC-W 505 Teaching American History (Summer Seminar)
  • EDUC-Y 611 Qualitative Research Methods