A formal headshot of Dr. Foley with wood panels in the background and a heavy vignette effect. Dr. Foley has mid-toned skin and dark coily hair. They are wearing all black professional clothing, standing with their hands in their pockets.

Nadirah Farah Foley

Assistant Professor
PhD, Harvard University
MSEd, University of Pennsylvania
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    • Department of Education
    • MSC 1183-228-107
    • Washington University
    • 1 Brookings Drive
    • St. Louis MO 63130-4899
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    Nadirah Farah Foley is an interdisciplinary social scientist working across the fields of sociology and education. Their work understands schools as an essential site for understanding issues of race, class, and place in contemporary American society, and uses qualitative methods to investigate how people experience, make sense of, and resist those systemic inequalities in and around educational settings.

    As of the fall of 2023, Nadirah is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education and a Faculty Affiliate of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Equity (CRE2) as well as the Interdisciplinary Program in Urban Studies. Their current book project, tentatively titled “Class, Dismissed: Inequality Talk in a Suburban School,” offers an ethnographic investigation of an affluent, diverse suburban community and how, even as racial inequality was increasingly on the district’s agenda, discourse about and action on socioeconomic inequality remained relatively muted and uncommon.


    Here at WashU, Professor Foley teaches classes within the sociology of education (K-12 and higher ed). In keeping with the departmental theme, their classes center on questions of schools as sites of inequality but also possibility, pushing students to think critically about the purpose schools serve in society and how access to, experiences within, and outcomes of educational institutions are stratified along axes of societal inequality.


    Professor Foley holds a Ph.D. in Education (Culture, Institutions, and Society) from Harvard University, as well as an M.S.Ed in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and an A.B. in Classics from Princeton University. Prior to joining WashU, Professor Foley held a postdoctoral appointment at New York University, working on a Gates Foundation-funded project on Continuous Improvement and Equity. Before graduate school, Professor Foley also worked in higher education, serving in roles spanning college access and student affairs.