Internationally esteemed sociologist to join Monash Education ranks as Professor of Education and Social Justice

Professor Steven Roberts
Professor Steven Roberts

Professor Steven Roberts has been appointed as a new Professor of Education and Social Justice at Monash Education, starting February 21.

Professor Roberts will lead the development of the Education and Social Justice specialisation in the Master of Education program in the School of Education, Culture and Society.

Monash Education Dean Viv Ellis acknowledged Professor Roberts' international reputation as a sociologist, with deep expertise in education-to-work transitions and class-based inequality, as well as research on masculinity and social change.

“This dual focus has unpinned significant contributions to the sociology of education, the sociology of youth, higher education studies, lifelong and workplace learning, health promotion and critical studies of men and masculinities,” Professor Ellis said.

Professor Roberts will be joining Monash Education from Monash Arts where he was working as interim Associate Dean.

He said he is feeling “off-the-scale happy and honoured” to be taking up a senior role, something he could never imagine growing up in the UK.

“[I was] a working-class, council estate kid who grew up in a precarious, poor and chaotic context that included domestic violence, addiction and class prejudice. I failed my A levels, was a late-teen parent and a first-generation university student.”

Professor Roberts said he shares his experiences not to show what he’s overcome, but to also [create] representation and visibility in higher education spaces that can often feel set up for white, privileged men to succeed.

“It’s important to demonstrate the scope for there to be non-white voices and faces, that there can and should be room for others with diverse experiences,” he said.

Steven says he is particularly excited about the opportunities working in the Faculty of Education will bring in terms of collaboration, and furthering his life-long commitment to social justice.

“I have the firm belief that education can be a force for good. But also I think it is difficult to make it a force for good, and there are absolutely injustices that remain both in the formal education system and beyond, relating to class, gender, race, sexuality and gender identity, that we need to strive to tackle.”

“Education is a broad church, with multiple lines of inquiry. Sociology as a critical discipline is really essential to what we do in education. It interacts, interconnects and intersects with other research areas. [I see] an enormous coherence.”

Professor Roberts has previously received external research funding from the Department for the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council and was awarded a 2022 Australian Research Council Discovery Project. He is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Youth Studies and a member of VicHealth’s Research Expert Advisory Panel.

Prior to joining Monash in 2015, Steven held posts as Program Director of the Postgraduate Certificate of Education in Post Compulsory Education and Training at the School of Education, University of Southampton; and as senior lecturer at the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent.