Skip to main content
Sepehr Vakil

Sepehr Vakil

  • Associate Professor, Learning Sciences
  • Affiliated Faculty member, Science in Human Cultures Program

Academic Area

Learning Sciences

Research Interests

STEM education (computer science and engineering education), technology ethics and policy, politics of educational equity and justice, cultural processes in learning, global and international STEM and engineering education. Broadly interested in role of culture, identity, emotion, humor, storytelling, and creativity in learning and development.


Sepehr Vakil is associate professor of learning sciences at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy and the faculty director of the Technology, Race, Ethics, and Equity in Education (TREE) Lab. He previously served as assistant professor of STEM education and associate director of equity and inclusion at University of Texas at Austin’s Center for STEM Education. He received his PhD in the Education in Mathematics, Science, and Technology program at the University of California Berkeley, and his bachelor's and master’s in electrical engineering from the University of California Los Angeles.


  • PhD, Education in Mathematics, Science, and Technology, University of California Berkeley, 2016
  • MS, Electrical Engineering, University of California Los Angeles, 2007
  • BS, Electrical Engineering, University of California Los Angeles, 2006

Awards and Honors

  • 2024 – NSF Racial Equity Award
  • 2022 – Appointed to the National Academy of Science Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) committee on equity in preK-12 STEM education
  • 2022 – Jan Hawkins Award for Early Career Contributions to Humanistic Research and Scholarship in Learning Technologies, AERA Division C
  • 2020 – Alumnae Curriculum Innovation Award
  • 2018 – NSF CAREER Award
  • 2018 – NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2015 – Thomas I. Yamashita Foundations for Social Change Prize

Selected Publications

Vakil, S., Reith, A., & Melo, N. A. (2023). Jamming power: Youth agency and community‐driven science in a critical technology learning program. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 60(8), 1723-1754.

Logan, C., & Vakil, S. (2023). “I will be your informant”: Observing young people’s emergent critical platform literacy development. In Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences.

Vakil, S., & McKinney de Royston, M. (2022). Youth as philosophers of technology. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 1-20.

Vakil, S. (2020). “I’ve Always Been Scared That Someday I’m Going to Sell Out”: Exploring the relationship between Political Identity and Learning in Computer Science Education. Cognition and Instruction, 38(2), 87-115.

Vakil, S. & Elham, B. (2020). Theorizing the politics of identity in engineering: Reflections from the University of Tehran, Iran. In Proceedings of International Conferences of the Learning Sciences

Vakil, S, Marshall, J., & Ibrahimovic (2020). “That’s Bogus as Hell!”: Getting under the hood of surveillance technologies in an out of school STEM learning environment. In Proceedings of the International Conferences of the Learning Sciences.

Vakil, S., & Higgs, J. (2019). It’s about power: A call to rethink ethics and equity in computing education.Communications of the ACM: 31-33.

Vakil, S (2018). Ethics, Identity, and Political Vision: Toward a Justice-Centered Approach to Equity in Computer Science Education. Harvard Educational Review: 26-52.

Vossoughi, S., Vakil, S. (2018). Towards what ends? A critical analysis of militarism, equity and STEM education in Ali A., Buenavista, T., At War!: Challenging Racism, Materialism, and Militarism in Education Fordham University Press.

Nasir, N., Vakil, S. (2017). STEM-focused academies in urban schools: Tensions and possibilities. Journal of the Learning Sciences: 376-406.

McKinney de Royston, M., Vakil, S., Nasir, N.S., ross, k.m., Givens, J., & Holman, A. (2017). “He’s More Like a ‘Brother’ Than a Teacher”: Politicized Caring in a Program for African American Males. Teachers College Record: 1-40.

Vakil, S., McKinney de Royston, M., Nasir, N., & Kirshner, B. (2016). Rethinking race and power in design-based research: Reflections from the field. Cognition and Instruction: 194-209(Download)

Vakil, S. (2014). A Critical Pedagogy Approach for Engaging Urban Youth in Mobile App Development in an After-School Program. Equity & Excellence in Education: 31-45.