Tonya Kneff-Chang

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

A critical historian and public scholar, Dr. Kneff-Chang examines stories of resistance in the shadows of history to help us understand the past, make sense of the present, and ultimately, illuminate paths toward liberation and justice. Integrating critical historical methodologies and critical race and social theories, her research focuses on racialized violence, collective resistance, and the transformative power of education. In addition, her collaborative public engagement projects include MVisible Voices, an intergenerational podcast series, and Don’t Leave Us Behind, a documentary about literacy and reading policy in Michigan.

As a postdoctoral researcher at the CREATE Center (Community-Based Research on Equity, Activism, and Transformative Education), Dr. Kneff-Chang is part of the School Shuttering and Equitable Educational Access Study (SEEAS), which situates school closures within historical struggles for educational access, equity, and racial justice. SEEAS bridges historical and contemporary contexts to explore the origins, processes, and impacts of permanent school and district closures.

As an educator, Dr. Kneff-Chang engages in critical pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning for students, staff, and faculty, which include intergroup dialogue, conflict resolution and restorative practices, trauma-informed teaching and learning, and pedagogies of hope, care, and love. She is currently the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access, & Justice (DEIAJ) Instructional Lead at the University of Michigan Medical School and co-teaches the History of Race and Racism in Medicine course.

Dr. Kneff-Chang holds a BA in Peace & Conflict Studies from the University of California, Berkeley; an MA in Educational Leadership & Policy from the University of Michigan; and a PhD in Educational Foundations & Policy from the University of Michigan.