Derek R. Ford Author of Evaluating Organization Development

Derek R. Ford

Assistant Professor of Education Studies
DePauw University

Derek is an educational theorist who received his PhD in cultural foundations of education from Syracuse University (2015). Informed by marxism, poststructuralism, queer theory, and critical geography, his research examines the knot of pedagogy, subjectivity, temporality, and political organization. He is particularly interested in what educational theory can offer contemporary political movements.

Subjects: Education, Philosophy


Ford's scholarship is driven by the need to link educational theory with revolutionary struggles His latest book, "Education and the Production of Space" (2017) constructs a revolutionary political pedagogy for struggles in and for the urban, or the city as use value. His previous book, "Communist Study: Education for the Commons" articulated a pedagogical constellation of educational concepts pertinent to the communist project. Demonstrating that learning is the educational logic that underpins capitalism and democracy, the project articulated a theory of communist study as an alternative and oppositional logic. This theory of study is oriented not just against capitalism and democracy, but toward the sublime feeling of being-in-common, which is always a commonness against.

As an organizer with the ANSWER Coalition, Ford is deeply involved in struggles against imperialism, oppression, and exploitation. He is also the co-coordinator of Liberation School and chair of the education department at The Hampton Institute (a working-class think tank).

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    radical pedagogy, continental philosophy, communist theory and praxis, philosophy of education, political economy.


Featured Title
 Featured Title - Education and the Production of Space - 1st Edition book cover


Critical Education

Joining the party: Critical education and the question of organization

Published: Dec 03, 2016 by Critical Education
Authors: Derek R. Ford
Subjects: Education, Philosophy

This article argues that the Party is a vanguard because it is a student of the mass struggle (which, in turn, is the Party’s ignorant schoolmaster), that it is disciplined to the full subjectivity of the proletariat, and that it is ultimately a form of unknowing and the organization of a lack.

Educational Philosophy and Theory

Studying like a communist: Affect, Party, & the educational limits to capital

Published: Oct 27, 2016 by Educational Philosophy and Theory
Authors: Derek R. Ford
Subjects: Education, Philosophy

This article develops a communist theory of study.

The SoJo Journal

The 'cynical recklessness' of capital: Revolutionary social studies education

Published: Oct 01, 2015 by The SoJo Journal
Authors: Curry Malott & Derek R. Ford

This article develops the foundations of a revolutionary marxist social studies education through an educational reading of Marx's "Capital."

Policy Futures in Education

Pedagogy for space: Teaching, learning & studying in the Baltimore Rebellion

Published: Jun 01, 2015 by Policy Futures in Education
Authors: Derek R. Ford
Subjects: Education, Geography , Philosophy

This articles educationalizes spatial theory by developing an educational triad of teaching, learning, and studying that is adequate to the production of space. It deploys this triad to understand the Baltimore Rebellion of 2015.

Policy Futures in Education

Spatializing marxist educational theory

Published: Aug 02, 2014 by Policy Futures in Education
Authors: Derek R. Ford

In this article, Marxist educational theory is spatialized by considering the school as (1) a form of fixed capital, (2) a crucial aspect of the built environment and (3) a relational space.

Educational Philosophy and Theory

The pneumatic common: Learning in, with and from the air

Published: Jul 04, 2014 by Educational Philosophy and Theory
Authors: Derek R. Ford

This article engages a historical, philosophical, and pedagogical reading of the air to conceptualize an educational pneumatic common.

Educational Philosophy and Theory

A critical pedagogy of ineffability: Identity, education and whatever

Published: Mar 07, 2014 by Educational Philosophy and Theory
Authors: Derek R. Ford

In this article I bring Giorgio Agamben’s notion of ‘whatever singularity’ into critical pedagogy.

Studies in Philosophy and Education

A figural education with Lyotard

Published: Jan 01, 2014 by Studies in Philosophy and Education
Authors: Derek R. Ford
Subjects: Education, Philosophy

This article formulates a figural education, which is composed of three educational processes and modes of engagement: reading, seeing, and blindness. A figural education, I argue, holds each of these practices in an uncertain and unsettling relation and, in so doing, can help educators defend the figural and the differend against the discursive demands of the system.

Critical Studies in Education

Toward a theory of the educational encounter

Published: Oct 01, 2013 by Critical Studies in Education
Authors: Derek R. Ford

This paper outlines a theory of the educational encounter, the space of, and the right to that encounter.

Borderlands e-journal

Butler goes to work: A political economy of the subject

Published: Oct 01, 2013 by Borderlands e-journal
Authors: Derek R. Ford

This paper works to theorize Judith Butler’s conception of subjectivity and subject formation in its historical relation to and role in political economy and the capitalist mode of production.


Ford interviewed on Loud & Clear about DeVos' confirmation and fight to come

By: Derek R. Ford
Subjects: Education

For the first time ever, the Vice-President has had to break a tie in a Senate confirmation hearing. Education Secretary and billionaire political donor Betsy DeVos’ performance during the confirmation showed a profound lack of knowledge about education policy, and her support for privatizing education has sparked outrage among education rights activists. Derek Ford, professor of education studies at Depauw University, joins the show. His most recent book is Education and the production of space: Political pedagogy, geography, and urban revolution (Routledge, 2017).