Muhammad Khalifa

Professor, Department of Educational Studies
Exec Director of Urban Initiatives, Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Outreach

Program Area: Educational Administration


Dr. Muhammad Khalifa is a professor of Educational Administration and the Executive Director of Urban and Rural Initiatives at The Ohio State University.  His research examines how urban school leaders enact culturally responsive leadership and anti-oppressive schooling practices. He was previously as teacher and administrator in Detroit Public Schools, and he has also contributed to community-informed education projects in Africa, Latin America, and Asia in various capacities.

Research Summary

Dr. Khalifa has written extensively on minoritized student identities in school, how schools can become liberatory spaces for youth, and how schools can begin to recognize and value community and ancestral knowledges in and around schools.  He is the author of the top-selling book, Culturally Responsive School Leadership (Harvard Education Press, 2018). He is also coeditor of three other earlier books and has published in the highest ranked education journals, including Review of Educational Research, Teachers College Record, QSE, Urban ReviewEducational Administration Quarterly, and Race, Ethnicity, and Education.

Selected Publications


·       Khalifa, M., Pekel, K., and Stanton, D. (forthcoming). Culturally responsive instructional leadership.

·       Khalifa, M. (2018). Culturally responsive school leadership. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

·      Okilwa, N., Khalifa, M., & Briscoe, F. (2017). The school to prison pipeline.  The role of culture and discipline in school.  Bingley: Emerald.

·      Briscoe, F. & Khalifa, M. (2015). Becoming critical: Emergence of social justice scholars. New York: SUNY Press.

·       Khalifa, M. Witherspoon-Arnold, N., Grant-Overton, C. (Eds). (2015) Handbook on urban educational leadership. NY: Rowan & Littlefield.



 ·      Khalifa, M. & Seashore, K. (forthcoming, 2021). Culturally Responsive Positive School Leadership.  Journal of Educational Administration.

·       Khalifa, M., Wright, J., Marsh, T., (forthcoming, 2021). Introduction: Coloniality: Educational leadership and research toward Decoloniality. Educational Administration Quarterly.

·       Abdi, N., Gill, E., Marshall, E., & Khalifa, M. (2020). Humanizing practices in online learning communities during pandemics in the United States. Journal of Professional Capital and Community.

·       Khalifa, M. (2019). Promoting culturally responsive leadership practices. Shining a light on marginalized children with humanistic practices and data scrutiny. School Administrator.

·       Khalifa, M. (2018). Centering Ancestral knowledges: Leadership in learning environments. The Family Leadership Design Collaborative, Kellogg Foundation and The University of Washington. 

·       Wright, J., Whittaker, R., Khalifa, M., & Briscoe, F. (2018). The color of neoliberal reform: A critical race policy analysis of school district takeovers in Michigan.  Urban Education.

·       Khalifa, M., Khalil, D., Marsh, T., & #Halloran, C. (2018). Toward an Indigenous,decolonizing school leadership: A literature review. Educational Administration Quarterly. 

·       Wright, J., Arnold, N. W., & Khalifa, M. (2018). Diversifying approaches to educational leadership. The impact of tradition in an educational landscape. Journal of School Leadership, 28. 815-833. 

·       Louis, K.S. & Khalifa, M. (2018). Understanding and improving urban secondary schools: the role of individual and collective agency. Journal of Educational Administration. 

·       Marshall, S. and Khalifa, M. (2018). Humanizing “Communities” of Practice: Culturally responsive leaders in shaping curriculum and instruction.  Journal of Educational Administration

·       Khalifa, M., Gooden, M, A., & Davis, J. E. (2016). Culturally responsive school Leadership: A synthesis of the literature. Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 1272-1311.

·       Witherspoon Arnold, N., Crawford, E.R., & Khalifa, M. (2016). Psychological heuristics and faculty of Color: Racial battle fatigue and tenure/promotion. Journal of Higher Education, 87(6), 890-919. 

·       Khalifa, M., Douglas, T., & Venzant Chambers, T. (2016). White gazes of Black Detroit: Milliken v. Bradley I, Post-Colonial theory, and persistent inequalities. Teachers College Record, 117(3).

·       Khalifa, M. & Briscoe, F. (2015). A counternarrative autoethnography exploring school districts’ role in reproducing racism: Willful blindness to racial inequities. Teachers College Record, 117(8).

·       Khalifa, M., Witherspoon Arnold, N., & Newcomb, W. (2015). Understand and advocate for communities first. Phi Delta Kappan, 96(7), 20-25.

·       Khalifa, M., Bashar-Ali, K. & Abdi, N. Witherspoon Arnold, N. (2014). From Post Colonial to neoliberal schooling in Somalia: The need for culturally relevant school leadership among Somaliland principals. Planning and Changing, 44(3/4), 235-261. 

·       Khalifa, M. (2014). Can Blacks be racist?: Black-on-Black principal abuse in an urban school setting. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 28(2), 259-282. 

·       Khalifa, M., Dunbar, C. & Douglass, T. (2013). Derrick Bell, CRT and educational leadership 1995-present. Race, Ethnicity, and Education, 16(4), 489-513.

·       Khalifa, M. (2013). Creating spaces for urban youth; the emergence of culturally relevant (hip-hop) pedagogy and implications for school leadership. Multicultural Learning & Teaching, 8(2), 63-93. 

·       Briscoe, F. & Khalifa, M. (2013). “That racism thing”: A critical race discourse analysis of a conflict over the proposed closure of a Black high school. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 18(6), 739-763. 

·       Khalifa, M., Jennings, M., Briscoe, F., #Olesweski, A., & Abdi, N. (2013). Racism? Administrative and community perspectives in data-driven decision making: Systemic perspectives versus technical-rational perspectives. Urban Education, 49(2), 147-181. 

·       Khalifa, M. (2012). A re-new-ed paradigm in successful urban school leadership: Principal as community leader.  Educational Administration Quarterly, 48 (3), 424-467.