John P. Portelli was born in Malta where after completing a B.A. (Philosophy & Maltese, 1975) he taught history and modern languages at a secondary school and philosophy at a junior college. In 1977 he was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship and commenced his studies at McGill University from where he obtained an M.A. (1979) and a Ph.D. (1984).
Currently he is a professor in the Department of Social Justice Education at OISE, University of Toronto. He is Co-director of the Centre for Leadership and Diversity and a fellow of St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto.
Before joining OISE in 1999 he taught in several universities: The University of Malta (1980), McGill University (1982-1985), Dalhousie University (Killam Post-Doctoral Fellow, 1985-1986), Mount Saint Vincent University (1986 – 1999). He was a visiting professor at the University of Malta (1992), Acadia University (1997), the University of British Columbia (1998), and the University of Verona (2010, 2011). He has published 9 books including two books of poetry.
Two of his books won the American Educational Studies Association Critic Award, and another of his books won the Canadian Association for the Foundations of Education Book Award. In 2005 he received the Canadian Society for the Study of Education Mentorship Award. In March 2013 he was awarded the David E. Hunt Graduate Teaching Award at the University of Toronto.
Since 1982 he has worked closely with teachers and school administrators in Canada and internationally. He has led several national education studies in Canada. He has given keynote addresses and lectures in Canada, U.S.A., Austria, Italy, England, Malta, Bahrain, Morocco, Ireland and Turkey. He was a commissioner of the National Commission for Higher Education of Malta (2006-2013), and a Lead Expert for the European Mediterranean University, Slovenia (on issues of quality assurance).
He is frequently invited to give keynote addresses and workshops in his areas of research and teaching which include: student engagement; students ‘at risk’; democratic theory and education; teaching controversial issues; leadership, equity and diversity; intercultural education and dialogue; educational policy and equity; neolberalism and education; social justice education; reflective practice; and ethical issues in educational leadership. His most recent book is Student Engagement in Urban Schools: Beyond Neoliberal Discourses (with Brenda McMahon), North Carolina: Information Age Publishers, 2012.
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