Mario and Alma Pastega Award for Excellence in Scholarship Recipient: Kenneth Carano

Mario and Alma Pastega Award for Excellence in Scholarship winner Associate Professor Kenneth Carano aspires to use his knowledge and status to listen and learn from others’ voices.

“Using my white male privilege to be a co-conspirator in working towards giving less-privileged voices a chance to be heard is a critical part of my field’s scholarship. And it’s important to me,” he said.

Man smiling
Western Oregon University Associate Professor Kenneth Carano received the Mario and Alma Pastega Award for Excellence in Scholarship.

Carano is the programs coordinator for the Center for Geography Education in Oregon, the executive editor of the Oregon Journal of Social Studies and an associate professor in Western Oregon University’s College of Education.

Carano has authored and co-authored one textbook, nine book chapters, 15 international and national refereed journal articles, eight regional journal articles, and two book reviews. The focus of his research is technology, global education and social studies best practices. Specifically, he has been at the forefront of presenting research and ideas for pedagogical best practices, global citizenship and social media.

Lehman College Professor Daniel Stuckart said Carano is a nationally recognized leader in the field of social studies education.

“Dr. Carano is an influential researcher, scholar, editor and disseminator in the field of social studies education. I cannot think of anyone who is more deserving for this excellence in scholarship award,” Stuckart said.

Carano teaches his students to be critical thinkers and advocates while also creating an equitable playing field in life for those who have been oppressed and made invisible in the past and still today.

Understanding other people’s perspectives and ways of life has been important to Carano since he was a Peace Corps volunteer. He lived in Suriname, South America, with descendants of runaway African slaves in the rain forest. Every email he sends includes the message, “I acknowledge the indigenous communities who have called this land in which I live and work on as home. I work and live in the ancestral, traditional and contemporary home of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde.”

Man and daughter in Vatican City
Western Oregon University Associate Professor Kenneth Carano advocates empowering people a chance for their voices to be heard. He is with his daughter, Sabina.

“My passion for this issue stems from my work with and the ongoing education I receive from some incredibly inspiring people in local tribal nations and communities, which has made me reflect upon the importance of acknowledging and working towards doing what I can to help Indigenous voices be heard,” he said.

He acknowledges their voices by teaching their history of being invaded and erased by a historical system of settler colonialism.

Carano recently co-authored with his 12-year-old daughter, Sabina, an article titled Antiracism in the Classroom: Teaching Elementary Students Hard History with the Green Book. He said spotlighting a child’s voice as a co-author in the scholarship process is rare.

Carano said it’s both humbling and an honor to receive the award because he knows his colleagues create amazing and critical scholarly accomplishments. He describes his work as a “scholarship journey that is ever-evolving into the dismantling of my own settler colonialist framework that has permeated my upbringing in a society in which this framework is subconsciously so prominent.”

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