The 200 most influential professors in the field of education are ranked in Education Week each year. Two center scholars, Shaun Harper and Chris Emdin, are ranked #4 and #49, respectively, in the 2023 rankings released today. Harper has been on the list every year since 2014; this year’s ranking is his highest. And this is Emdin’s eighth consecutive year on the Top 200 list.

“Shaun and Chris have done so much to influence the field of education through their research and scholarship,” notes USC Rossier School of Education Dean Pedro Noguera. “It therefore does not surprise me that they are two of seven Rossier professors recognized on this prestigious list for 2023.” Noguera is #1 this year, his highest-ever ranking on the annual list.

Shaun Harper and Chris Emdin

Dr. Shaun Harper and Dr. Christopher Emdin

In the Sociology of Education subfield rankings, Noguera and Harper are #1 and #2, respectively. Emdin is #11 in Curriculum, Instruction, and Administration.

The rankings are based on Google Scholar citation counts, the number of times each scholar’s publications were assigned in university courses, the number of books published, book sales on Amazon, mentions in newspapers within and beyond the field of education, internet presence, appearances in the federal Congressional Record, and social media influence on Twitter. One of the nearly three-dozen articles Harper has published in Forbes over the past year was referenced extensively on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in September 2022, which scored him a mention in the Congressional Record.

Harper, our center’s founder and executive director, holds the Clifford and Betty Allen Chair in Urban Leadership. He also is one of 14 Provost Professors, distinguished interdisciplinary scholars who teach in two or more academic schools at USC. Last year, USC President Carol Folt named him University Professor, a distinction bestowed only to 26 of 4,700 full-time USC faculty members. And President Joe Biden appointed him to the National Board for Education Sciences. Harper served as the 2020-21 American Educational Research Association president and the 2016-17 Association for the Study of Higher Education president. He was inducted into the National Academy of Education in 2021. Scandals in College Sports is among the 12 books he has published.

“Because public influence is so much more important to me than is academic acclaim, I sincerely and greatly appreciate this annual recognition of my work,” shares Harper. “Most important to me, though, is the actual impact my work has on people. I am and always will be my people’s professor. Nothing matters more to me than doing serious, transformative work that improves their lives in educational institutions, workplaces, and our broader society.”

Emdin holds the Robert A. Naslund Chair in Curriculum and Teaching and is chair of the Rossier School’s Ph.D. Program. He also is our center’s inaugural Director of Youth Engagement and Community Partnerships. For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too, a New York Times Bestseller, is one of the eight books Emdin has published. He was named a White House STEM Access Champion of Change in 2015 and featured in TIME magazine as one of 27 people “bridging divides across America” in 2020.

The creation and leadership of “Science Genius” is one extraordinary example of Emdin’s public influence. This innovative program, which uses rap battles as a tool to teach urban youth about science, has been featured on CNN, in the New York Times and numerous other media outlets, and in a nationally-televised documentary film. More importantly, it has led to partnerships between Emdin and celebrities and rappers (including the Wu-Tang Clan); science teachers and other urban educators; and more than 3,000 students in schools across various states (New York, Florida, Tennessee, and Texas), the Caribbean (Jamaica and Barbados), and Canada (Toronto and Calgary).

“The mission of any education scholar who is committed to enacting change in historically underserved communities is to engage in high-quality research, identify outcomes from research that allow young people to thrive, and bring the new truths that emerge from these endeavors directly to the people,” says Emdin. “My work aims to reimagine what we consider to be academic. I strive to bring new types of scholarship to both academia and the public. This recognition is both a reminder of my mission and motivation to keep pursuing it. I am deeply humbled to be on this list with my USC colleagues.”

The Root has also included Harper and Emdin in its annual ranking of the 100 most influential African Americans. First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Kamala Harris, Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, Beyoncé, Jay Z, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Queen Latifah, Issa Rae, Ava DuVernay, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, NYC Mayor Eric Adams, and USC alumna Shonda Rhimes, also have been on that list.