Episode 75: Evil and Villainification in Social Studies with Cathryn van Kessel & Ryan Crowley

In episode 75, Michael & Dan chat with Cathryn van Kessel and Ryan M. Crowley about their recently published Theory and Research in Social Education article “Villainification and Evil in Social Studies Education. One of the big highlights is how to make ‘historical villains’ more three dimensional.

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Books, articles, lessons, and other amazing resources

  1. van Kessel C. & Crowley, R. (in press). Villainification and Evil in Social StudiesTheory & Research in Social Education, 45(3), 318-348.
  2. Arendt, H. (2006). Eichmann in Jerusalem: A report on the banality of evilNew York, NYPenguin. (Original work published 1963) [Google Scholar]
  3. Butler, J. (2011August 29). Hannah Arendt’s challenge to Adolf EichmannThe Guardian.
  4. den Heyer, K., & van Kessel, C. (2015). Evil, agency, and citizenship educationMcgill Journal of Education, 50, 118. doi:10.7202/1036107ar [Crossref]
  5. Kohl, H. (1991). The politics of children’s literature: The story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus BoycottJournal of Education, 173, 3550. [Google Scholar]


Cathryn van Kessel is an Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta in Secondary Social Studies Education.

Cathryn was born and raised in the Edmonton area, but lived and studied in Vancouver for almost a decade. Cathryn’s career as an educator began in 2005 with a move back to her original city, teaching junior and senior high social studies and Latin in Edmonton until 2015. Three of these years included serving as a vice-principal, and then subsequently she continued teaching part-time while undertaking the initial stages of her doctoral studies at the University of Alberta. She accepted an academic position in the Faculty of Education in 2016.

She is an Associate Editor for the journal Canadian Social Studies, a Board Member of the Aspen Foundation, and an executive member of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies (CACS).

Adapted from her faculty bio at the University of Alberta.

Dr. Ryan M. Crowley joined the faculty at the University of Kentucky (UK) in 2014 as an Assistant Professor of social studies education. He joined UK after completing his doctoral studies at The University of Texas. Ryan also taught secondary social studies for eight years in Houston and Austin prior to beginning his graduate work. Ryan works in the elementary program at UK, teaching social studies methods courses.

His research focuses on issues of race and equity in education with an emphasis on how novice teachers integrate critical understandings of race and racism into their teaching and how social studies curricula address, or fail to address, issues of race and racism.

Adapted from his faculty bio at the University of Kentucky.

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