Key Professional Appointments

Affiliate, Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1994 - present

Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1994 - present

Associate Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1989 - 1994

Assistant, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Studies, University of Utah, 1983 - 1989


Ph.D., Philosophy of Education, Stanford University, 1983

M.A., Philosophy, Stanford University, 1979

B.A., Philosophy, Religious Studies, Grinnell College, 1975

Awards, Honors, Associations

Gutgsell Professor, Office of the Provost, 2009 - 2014

Fellow, Fellow of the International Academy of Education, 2010 - present

Recipient, Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Philosophy of Education, James and Helen Merritt Foundation, 2004 - 2004

Incomplete List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2002 - 2002

Distinguished Senior Scholar, College of Education, 2001 - 2002

Faculty Exchange Award, University of Leuven, 2001 - 2001

Grayce Wicall Gauthier Professor, College of Education, 2002 - 2007

Research & Service

My research focuses on philosophy of education; teaching and dialogue; critical social and political theory; and technology and education.

My major current projects include work on ethical and policy issues concerning new technologies in education; virtual reality; collaboration; and dialogue and "third spaces."


Burbules, N. (2019). Nicholas C. Burbules, “Thoughts on phronesis.” Ethics and Education, Vol. 14 No. 2 (2019), pp. 126–137. Revised and translated version published as “Phrónesis y complejidad” (“Phronesis and complexity.

Burbules, N. (2019). Nicholas C. Burbules, “Living with conflicting ideals.” Philosophy of Education 2019, Kurt Stemhagen, editor (Urbana, Ill.: Philosophy of Education Society, forthcoming).

Burbules, N. (2003). Educational research as a social discourse. Beyond empiricism: On criteria for educational research Leuven, Belgium: University Press.  link >

Burbules, N., & Lambeir, B. (2003). The importance of new technologies in promoting collaborative educational research. Beyond empiricism: On criteria for educational research ( pp. 41-52). Leuven, Belgium: University Press.

Burbules, N. (2000). Does the Internet constitute a global educational community? Globalization and education: Critical perspectives ( pp. 323-355). New York: Routledge.

Burbules, N. (2000). Philosophy of education. Routledge international companion to education ( pp. 3-18). New York: Routledge.

Burbules, N., Callister, T., & Jr, . (2000). Universities in transition: The promise and the challenge of new technologies. Teachers College Record, 102 (2), 273-295.

Burbules, N., Callister, T., & Jr, . (2000). Watch IT: The promises and risks of new information technologies for education Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Burbules, N. (1993). Dialogue in teaching: Theory and practice. New York: Teachers College Press. Selected for the American Educational Studies Association "Critics' Choice" Award, 1993. Selected for an invited book signing by the Conference on Intergroup Dialogue ( vol. 1997,). University of Michigan.

Burbules, N. (2019). C.K. Gunsalus, Elizabeth A. Luckman, Nicholas C. Burbules and Robert A. Easter, “How to Change an Unhealthy Department Culture” (Inside Higher Ed, March 14, 2019) https://www.insidehighered.com/advice.

Burbules, N. (2019). Elizabeth A. Luckman, C. K. Gunsalus, Nicholas C. Burbules and Robert A. Easter, “Fostering Trust in Academic Departments” (Inside Higher Ed, January 10, 2019) https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/20.

Burbules, N. (2019). Elizabeth A. Luckman, Nicholas C. Burbules, C. K. Gunsalus and Robert A. Easter, “The Self-Aware Leader” (Inside Higher Ed, August 7, 2019) https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2019/08/07/importance-.

Burbules, N. (2019). Jane Blanken-Webb, Imani Palmer, Roy H. Campbell, Nicholas C. Burbules, and Masooda Bashir, “Cybersecurity ethics,” in Foundations of Information Ethics, ed. John Burgess and Emily Knox (Chicago, IL.

Burbules, N. (2019). Nicholas C. Burbules, Ashley Albrecht Weaver, Elizabeth A. Luckman and C.K. Gunsalus, “Incivility, Bullying and Academic Dysfunction” (Inside Higher Ed, December 19, 2019) https://www.insidehighered.c.

Burbules, N. (2019). Sebastian Wraight, Nicholas C. Burbules, Elizabeth A. Luckman and C. K. Gunsalus, “Why Listening Matters for Leaders” (Inside Higher Ed, October 24, 2019) https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2019/10.


“MOOCs: The hype and the reality.” (2012). University of Illinois: Urbana/Champaign.

“The paradigmatic differences between name/date and footnote styles of citation.” (2012). Catholic University of Leuven, (Belgium),

“How 21st century learners change college teaching.” (2012). University of Illinois: Urbana/Champaign.

“Shared governance at the University of Illinois.” (2012). University of Illinois: Urbana/Champaign.

“From teaching to learning: Rethinking higher education.” (2011). University of Buenos Aires (Argentina),

“From teaching to learning: The impact of new technologies on education.” (2011). Congreso Internacional de Inclusion Digital Educativa, Buenos Aires (Argentina),

“Spaces and places in the virtual university.” (2011). Friedrich-Alexander Universitat, (Nuremberg, Germany),

“The future of philosophy of education.” (2011). University of Illinois: Urbana/Champaign.

“The challenge of new technologies is that we are always in transition.” (2011). Foro Latinamericano de Educacion: TIC en Educacion, Buenos Aires (Argentina),

“Why teachers shouldn’t be afraid of new technologies.” (2011). National University of Quilmes (Argentina),

A Three-Year Plan to Rethink Midwestern Higher Education: A concept paper (2011). Commissioned by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

“New models of educational research.” (2011).

“New sociocultural contexts of educational research.” (2011).

“The claims of parenting” (Respondent) (2011). Philosophy of Education Society.

“The interplay between technology, professional education, and health.” (2011). University of Illinois.

“Ubiquitous learning and the ubiquitous learner.” (2011).

“Impediments and opportunities for interdisciplinary/interprofessional cooperation at the University of Illinois.” Invited talk, Center for Global Studies, University of Illinois, Spring 2011 (availab (2011).

“Shared governance in higher education: Theory and practice.” (2011). University of Illinois.

Philosophical perspectives on educational quality (2003).: Chicago.

The mixed blessings of non-face-to-face interactions in online courses (2003).: Chicago.

The relevance of philosophy of education to educational research (2003).: Chicago.

“Contemporary philosophy of education in the West.” Invited lecture, Beijing Normal University (Beijing, China), June 2019. (2019).

“Cross-cultural perspectives on the ethics of teaching.” Invited lecture, East China Normal University (Shanghai, China), May 2019. (2019).

“Living with conflicting ideals.” Response presentation, Philosophy of Education Society Meeting, March 16, 2019 Richmond, Virginia. (2019).

“Rethinking virtue ethics in education.” Invited lecture, Teachers College, Columbia University, September 2019. (2019).

“Ubiquitous learning and the future of teaching.” Invited lectures, Southwest University (Chongqing, China) and Shanghai University of Engineering Science (Shanghai, China) May 2019. (2019).

“Web 3.0 and the future quality of life.” Invited lecture, Sino-American Symposium on Future Issues Affecting Quality of Life (Western Michigan University), May 2019. (2019).

“What we can expect from dialogue.” Invited lecture, University of Virginia, November 2019. (2019).


Principal Investigator, Can Knowledge be Distributed? The Dynamics of Knowledge in Interdisciplinary Alliances, National Science Foundation (National Center for Supercomputing Applications), 1999 - 2003

Co-Principal Investigator, Interagency Education Research Initiative: Planning Grant for National Data Collection Center, National Science Foundation, 2000 - 2001


Professional Ethics in Ed (EPS 410) Philosophical examination of selected educational issues; conveys a grasp of the complexities of the issues and some philosophical methods for dealing with them.

School and Society (EPS 411) Analyzes normative and conceptual aspects of the interrelationship of school and society, and of reciprocal influences between schools and major social trends and forces.

Critical Thinking in Ed (EPS 412) Examination of critical thinking dispositions and abilities as an approach to the foundations of knowledge and structure of thinking in subject-matter areas.

Critical Thinking for Teachers (EPS 412) Examination of critical thinking dispositions and abilities as an approach to the foundations of knowledge and structure of thinking in subject-matter areas.

Technology &Educational Reform (EPS 415) Examines the normative and policy issues raised by the use of new information and communication technologies in education. The course is interdisciplinary, drawing from social and historical as well as philosophical perspectives on these issues.

Philosophy and Ed Research (EPS 515) Examines some crucial assumptions and concepts of contemporary research in education from the point of view both of the consumer and the practitioner of educational research. Topics include paradigm conflicts, causal attributions in social science, assessment, ethical problems in the conduct of research, and the assumptions of quantitative research.

Social Theories and Education (EPS 516) Examines philosophical issues in social and political theory as they pertain to educational problems. The course includes topics such as autonomy, democratic education, educational reform, and social change.

Role of Theory in Ed Research (EPS 590) Title: The Role of Theory in Educational Research All research is guided by theory. Theory provides a vocabulary, a set of laws or generalizations, a background literature, and a conceptual framework for any effort to plan, design, and execute a research study. There is no theory-free inquiry. This is true in the social sciences as well as the natural sciences. All research seeks to explain phenomena: a theory provides an explanation for those explanations. However, these theoretical assumptions are often implicit and unreflective. Researchers may think they have no theory, or have a theory that is so taken for granted that they don't recognize it as an assumed theory. Much of educational research suffers from this lack of theoretical self-awareness. Like any other aspect of research, theories are falsifiable. They must stand the test of evidence - which may go against them. The goal of the class is not to identify the "right" or "best" theory, but to make the identification and selec

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Gutgsell Professor, Education Policy, Organization and Leadership



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