Professor Patrick Alexander

DPhil, Msc, PGCE, PCTHE, BA (Hons)

Professor of Education and Anthropology

School of Education, Humanities and Languages

Patrick Alexander


Patrick is Research Lead for Education and Chair of the Oxford Brookes Children and Young People's Research Network. He is Director of the Centre for Educational Consultancy and Development (CECD). Patrick teaches on the MA Education and EdD and currently supervises 14 doctoral candidates. Patrick's research focuses on sociology and anthropology of education, specifically schooling, youth transitions, and concepts of the future.

Teaching and supervision


Modules taught

EDUC7067 Theoretical Foundations of Educational Research

Patrick is involved in delivering a range of professional learning activities for teachers focusing on theory and research engagement


Currently supervising 3 MA students and 14 doctoral students on a broad range of themes. Please email if you are interested in supervision.

Research Students

Name Thesis title Completed
Dr John Loewenthal What do people want to do with their lives and why? An ethnography of graduate aspirations in New York and Los Angeles 2021
Robert Curry Exploring service development to scaffold cross-disciplinary critical maker-learning in a Higher Education Academic Library Makerspace: a case study through the lens of cultural-historical activity 2021


Patrick's research focuses on the anthropology of education, and specifically on ethnographic research in schools. His research explores how schooling socialises young people into particular concepts of futurity, and how these concepts shape the life course for young people making the transition to adulthood. Patrick also researches knowledge production, professional learning and research engagement among teachers, particularly in international schools. Patrick is also researching the educational possibilities of the metaverse and VR/AR/XR technologies.

Research impact

Patrick's impact work focuses on engaging young people, institutions, and policymakers in dialogue about the future of schooling.


Projects as Principal Investigator, or Lead Academic if project is led by another Institution

  • Banking on Health: a co-created nutrition cooking workshop initiative for young people in Oxfordshire. (led by HLS) (01/05/2024 - 30/04/2025), funded by: Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC), funding amount received by Brookes: £0
  • Playing teacher: Designing a mentoring intervention to support Early Career Teachers (Kathryn Spicksley) (01/01/2023 - 31/12/2025), funded by: British Academy, funding amount received by Brookes: £319,991
  • Virtual Ecologies of Learning: Young People Re-dreaming Education in the Metaverse (01/01/2023 - 31/12/2023), funded by: British Educational Research Association (BERA), funding amount received by Brookes: £5,000


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Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies

Patrick is a Fellow of the HEA, FRSA, RAI, IUES, and member of the Education committee of the Royal Anthropological Institute.


Recent conference papers:

  • ‘FutureYou2020: (Ethnographic Film)’, International Society for Ethnology and Folklore Annual Conference, online June 2021
  • 'Teaching about Culture and Difference and Schools’, Royal Anthropological Institute Annual Conference, online 9/2020
  • 'Working and Reworking the Future: Narratives of Work at the End of Schooling in London and New York City', talk by invitation at Brunel University, 11/2018
  • Panel co-organiser, ‘Temporalities of work, money, and fantasy’, Association of Social Anthropologists Annual Conference, Oxford 9/2018
  • 'Rituals of Remembrance', BERA Annual Conference, 09/2018
  • Organiser, Teaching Through Ethnography: Process, Product, Practice. Royal Anthropological Institute/Oxford Brookes University, 12/2017
  • ‘Imagining a Future After High School: Young People Navigating Uncertain Citizenship in Contemporary Britain’, American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, Washington DC, 11/2017
  • ‘Imagining the Future: An Art-Research Installation’, Oxford University Carnival of Curiosities (Ashmolean Museum), 09/2017
  • ‘Narratives of Partial Resistance to the Neoliberal Colonisation of the Future’, Keynote at Educated People and Disciplined Bodies: Self-Governance(s) and Local Re-appropriations of Schooling. University of St. Andrews, 9/2017
  • ‘Anthropology in Schools: Teaching About Culture and Difference in Uncertain Times’, World Humanities Conference (UNESCO), Liege, Belgium, 08/2017
  • Co-organiser, Care, Commitment and the Life Course, AAGE Biennial Conference (American Anthropological Association), Oxford Brookes University, 06/2017
  • ‘Imagining a Future After Schooling: Young People Navigating Uncertainty in Contemporary Britain’, by invitation at Oxford University Department of Education Public Seminar Series, 01/2017 (with Prof. Graham Butt)
  • ‘Imagining a Future After Schooling: Anthropology and Public Engagement’, by invitation at University of East London, 01/2017
  • Knowledge, Learning, and Schooling in Amazonia’, invited keynote to inaugurate EdD programme, Oxford Brookes University, 9/2016
  • Imagining A Future After Schooling: Quantum Personhood in the Lives of Young People in London and New York City’: ASA Annual Conference, Durham University, 07/2016
  • ‘Figuring Quantum Personhood: Imagined Futures in London and New York City’, CAE New Scholar Panel, Familiar Strange: AAA 116th annual conference, Denver, CO, 11/2015
  • ‘Imagining a Future After High School: An Ethnographic Account of Schooling in London and New York City’, presented by invitation at John Jay College, City University of New York, 4/2015
  • ‘Coming of Age in High School: Imagined Futures, Quantum Personhood and Age Imaginaries’, presented by Invitation at New York University, 3/2015
  • ‘Imagining the Future in London and New York City: preliminary findings’, presented by invitation at Teachers College, Columbia University, 2/2015
  • ‘Imagining the Future: Aspiration, Inequality and Age Imaginaries in a Comparative Ethnography of Schooling in the US & UK’, Producing Anthropology: AAA 115th annual conference, Washington DC, 12/2014
  • ‘Everyday Age Imaginaries’, Researching Children’s Everyday Lives: socio-cultural contexts, University of Sheffield, 06/2014


Patrick has over a decade of experience in educational consultancy and leads the Centre for Educational Consultancy and Development at Oxford Brookes.

Further details

Other experience

Patrick joined Oxford Brookes as an Early Career Research Fellow in 2013. Prior to joining Oxford Brookes Patrick was College Lecturer in Social Anthropology at St. Hugh's College, Oxford, and a researcher in the Oxford University Department of Education working on a range of projects related to aspiration and social identity. He was also coordinator for qualitative research methods training for the Social Sciences Division at Oxford University. Patrick studied United States and Latin American Studies at King's College, London as an undergraduate before migrating to Oxford for postgraduate study (MSc Social Anthropology, 2005; PGCE English, 2006; DPhil Education, 2011; PCTHE 2017). 

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