Faculty Profile: Dr. Amy Swain

Name: Amy Swain, PhD

Title: Teaching Assistant Professor

Department: Special Education, Foundations & Research (SEFR)

Hometown: Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Colleges attended and degrees:
East Carolina University (2003): Creative Writing & Philosophy, BA (double major
UNC Chapel Hill (2008): Culture, Curriculum & Change, MA
UNC Chapel Hill (2013): Culture, Curriculum & Change, PhD

Years working at ECU: 4 years

What do you love about ECU?

I grew up in eastern NC and ECU feels like home. I’m grateful for the generous sponsorship of the COE’s Rural Education Institute to complete my research.

What are your research interests?

Racial equity, rural education, rurality, and transformative justice

Can you give a summary of your work?

My research focuses on the enduring legacies of plantations and white supremacy on rural education in the Black Belt, particularly in eastern North Carolina. What does it mean to learn and live on lands dominated by settler colonialism and racist violence? How do such spaces harm our potential for growth and possibility? My work takes up both qualitative and quantitative methods to understand these questions. Everything I do is ultimately about dismantling the brutality of whiteness in our schools and helping to create a beloved community where love and justice are centralized. 

What is your favorite course that you have taught or currently teach?

EDUC 3002: Introduction to Diversity. In this course, we learn about the society we have, envision the society we desire, and we ask ourselves hard questions about what it takes to get from here to there. What does love require of us?

What drew you to SEFR and, in particular, foundations?

I agree with bell hooks that education is the practice of freedom. And I believe that our students deserve to learn in schools where human dignity is magnified and protected. Education is not learning how to labor but learning how to live free. I came into this work because I want us all to get to freedom.

Outside of work, what are your favorite hobbies or interests?

My faith is the foundation of my life, and I’m raising two beautifully strong and tender young men. I love painting, making art, and giving it all away.