Profile picture of Sarah Stapleton

Sarah Stapleton

Associate Professor
College of Education, Critical and Sociocultural Studies in Education, Curriculum & Teaching, Curriculum and Teacher Education, Educational Foundations, Environmental Studies, Food Studies
Phone: 541-346-5834
Office: 130C Lokey Education Bldg
Research Interests: climate change education, science and environmental education, food and schools, participatory research


Sarah Stapleton is an Assistant Professor in the Education Studies department, core faculty in Environmental Studies, and an affiliate faculty member with UO Food Studies. Before earning her doctorate, she taught middle and high school environmental science, physical science, chemistry, and general science at public schools in California and as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Gambia, West Africa. Sarah is credentialed by the state of California to teach chemical and biological sciences.

From 2019-2022, Sarah has served as Chair, Program Chair, and Past Chair for the Environmental Education Special Interest Group of the American Education Research Association. Sarah serves on the editorial review boards for the Journal of Environmental Education and the Canadian Journal of Environmental Education.

At the UO, Sarah primarily works with undergraduates in the Education Foundations program, pre-service teachers in the UO Teach masters program, and doctoral students in the Critical and Sociocultural Studies in Education program. She also advises masters and doctoral students in the UO Environmental Studies program. Sarah has participated on the UO Student Food Insecurity Task Force since 2019. Sarah serves at the College of Education representative on the Provost’s Environmental Initiative Faculty Advisory Board, and is the Provost’s Environmental Initiative Fellow for Spring 2022.

Sarah strives for community-based scholarship and service. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Food for Lane County, the food bank serving our community. Sarah is also part of the steering committee of Oregon Educators for Climate Education, a group working to advocate for Oregon state legislation for climate education.


Ph.D., 2015, Michigan State University
Curriculum, Instruction, & Teacher Education
Ed.M., 2005, Harvard Graduate School of Education
International Education Policy
B.A., 2001, Sweet Briar College
Major: Chemistry, Minor: Biology

Honors and Awards

2022     Gray Family Foundation grant. Collaborative effort with Beyond Toxics: Teachers Environmental Justice Curriculum Writer’s Retreat.

2021-22  Environmental Initiative Faculty Fellowship, Office of the Provost, University of Oregon 

2021       Excellence in Research/Outreach Early Career Award, College of Education, University of Oregon

2020       Sustainability Award Finalist for Published Research, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)

2020       Williams Instructional Proposal Award, Teaching for Climate Activism, University of Oregon

2019       Sustainability Excellence in Teaching Award, University of Oregon Teaching Engagement Program and Office of the Provost


Stapleton, S.R. (2022). Where am I in STEM? Critiquing STEM through lived experience as a science education researcher. Critical Education.

Stapleton, S.R. (2021). Bringing teachers to the table: the need to teach food in teacher education. Food, Culture and Society.

Stapleton, S.R., and Meier, B.* (2021). Science education for resiliency: promises and challenges of indoor agriculture. Journal of Research in Science Education. 59(2). 169-194.

Stapleton, S.R. and Lynch, K. (2021). Fostering relationships between elementary students and the more-than-human world: a longitudinal study. Journal of Environmental Education. 52(4), 272-289.…

Stapleton, S.R. (2020) Nevertheless, they persisted: How a group of “noisy moms” overcame dismissal and helped to improve school food in a small US city school district. Gender, Place, and Culture.

Stapleton, S.R. (2019) Towards critical environmental education: a standpoint analysis of race within the American environmental context. Environmental Education Research.

Stapleton, S.R. (2019) Parent activists versus the Corporation: a fight for ‘school food sovereignty’. Agriculture and Human Values.

Stapleton, S.R. (2019) Boundaries, gatekeeping, and oppression within science education research. In J. Bazzul & C. Siry (Eds.), Critical voices in science education: narratives of hope and struggle. Springer.

Stapleton, S.R. (2018). Data analysis in participatory action research: using poetic inquiry to describe urban teacher marginalization. Action Research.

Stapleton, S.R. (2018). A case for climate justice education: American youth connecting to intragenerational climate injustice in Bangladesh. Environmental Education Research

Stapleton, S.R. (2018). Teacher participatory action research (TPAR): A methodological framework for political teacher research. Action Research

Stapleton, S.R. & Cole, P. (2018). School lunch and student food insecurity: A teacher’s observations and reflections. In S. Rice & A.G. Rud (Eds.) Educational Dimensions of School lunch: Critical Perspectives. Springer.

Stapleton, S.R., Cole, P., Washburn, M., Jason, M., & Alvarado, T. (2017). Views from the Classroom: Teachers on Food in a Low-Income Urban School District. In I. Werkheiser and Z. Piso (Eds.), Food Justice in US and Global Contexts: Bringing Theory and Practice Together. Springer.

Stapleton, S.R. (2017). Oral traditions, changing rural landscapes, and science education. Cultural Studies of Science Education. 12(1). 189-98.

Stapleton, S.R. (2015). Food, identity, and environmental education. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education. 20.

Stapleton, S.R. (2015). Environmental identity development through social interactions, action, and recognition. Journal of Environmental Education. 46(2).

Stapleton, S.R. (2015). Supporting teachers for race-/class-/gender-responsive science teaching. Cultural Studies of Science Education. 10(2).


Sarah's research uses critical and participatory methodologies to explore social contexts around science and environmental education. Sarah’s context areas for research and teaching are food and climate change. More specifically, Sarah is interested in the many ways food intersects with schools and how these, in turn, impact student health, well-being, and the environment. Sarah also researches and teaches about climate justice and how to teach about climate change in schools in ways that inspire hope and action. Sarah is deeply concerned with social and environmental inequities, and sees research as a form of activism to address them. She also prioritizes her local place and participatory relationships through her research. Her current projects are based in her community and result from participatory collaborations.