Nadirah Farah Foley is a researcher and writer. Rooted in sociology, Nadirah’s research explores issues of culture and inequality, especially how racism and social class shape cultural processes and students’ experiences. Nadirah’s current research focuses on demographic changes and inequality in the suburbs, but her interests run the gamut from understanding the role of elite institutions of higher education to investigating how family structure impacts students’ educational trajectories.
In large part, Nadirah’s research interests are inspired by their previous work experiences with students who identify as people of color, low-income, and/or first-generation, as well as their own experiences as a low-income black student in predominantly-white suburban schools and elite universities. While in graduate school, they served as a teaching fellow for a range of classes including a course on the history of higher education, an ethnographic methods seminar, and a module on racial identity development. They also designed and taught a half-semester course entitled "Reconsidering Merit(ocracy)." Outside of the classroom, they served as a coordinator of the Contemporary Studies of Race and Ethnicity workshop, a research assistant on projects on topics including immigrant experiences in diversifying suburbs and financial decisionmaking, and a member of the Harvard Educational Review’s Editorial Board (2016-2018; Content Editor 2017-2018).
Prior to graduate school, Nadirah held positions with a college access non-profit, in undergraduate admissions, in student affairs, and with a bridge program for incoming first-year college students from underrepresented backgrounds. They hold a Ph.D. in Culture, Institutions, and Society from Harvard University, an M.S.Ed in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, and an A.B. in Classics (with honors) from Princeton University. After concluding an appointment as a Postdoctoral Associate at New York University, they are now an Assistant Professor of Education at Washington University in St. Louis.