Donald J. Peurach
Faculty Associate, Center for Positive Organizations
Professor of Educational Policy, Leadership, and Innovation
University of Michigan
Donald J. Peurach is Professor of Educational Policy, Leadership, and Innovation in the University of Michigan’s School of Education. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a Faculty Associate in the Center for Positive Organizations in the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, and a Senior Research Specialist at the Consortium for Policy Research in Education at the University of Pennsylvania.
Peurach’s research, teaching, and outreach focus on the production, use, and management of knowledge in practice, among social innovators and those they seek to serve. Peurach examines these issues in the context of large-scale educational improvement initiatives in public school districts and in school improvement networks, focusing specifically on how districts and networks continuously learn and improve over time. Currently, Peurach is engaged in three lines of work that advance this agenda:
- With support from the Spencer Foundation and the National Science Foundation, Peurach is collaborating with researchers from the University of Michigan and Northwestern University to study efforts to redesign classrooms, school, districts, and networks to function synergistically as instructionally-focused education systems.
- As a Senior Fellow of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Peurach is collaborating with researchers and educational professionals to organize, expand, and advance the community of scholars engaged in the practice and study of improvement-focused educational research.
- Across both of the preceding, Peurach raises and examines cross-cutting issues of leadership, organization, and policy central to large-scale efforts to improve educational quality and to reduce educational disparities, especially for students who have been historically marginalized both in public schools and in broader society.
Peurach is the author of Seeing Complexity in Public Education: Problems, Possibilities, and Success for All (2011, Oxford University Press) and co-author of Improvement by Design: The Promise of Better Schools (2014, University of Chicago Press). Peurach’s perspectives and research have been featured in commentaries, press reports, and op-ed pieces, as well as in blogs from Education Week, the Huffington Post, the William T. Grant Foundation, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Peurach is also the lead designer of the Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement MicroMasters program: a series of five massive open online courses available on the edX platform that has engaged a global community of over 40,000 learners in the theory and practice of network-based continuous improvement. Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement was developed with support from the Microsoft Corporation and in collaboration among the University of Michigan School of Education, the Ross School of Business, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Peurach chairs the Faculty Committee on Massive Open Online Courses and serves on the Academic Innovation Advisory Committee, both for the University of Michigan’s Office of Academic Innovation.
In 2017, Peurach received an Outstanding Reviewer Award from Educational Researcher. In 2016, Peurach received an Outstanding Reviewer of the Year Award from Educational Administration Quarterly. In 2013, Peurach received the School of Education’s Evan G. and Helen G. Pattishall Junior Faculty Research Award. In 2011, he received the Paula Silver Case Award from the University Council of Educational Administration for the most outstanding case published in the 2010 volume of the Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership.
Prior to joining the School of Education as a faculty member in 2011, Peurach served as an assistant professor at Michigan State University and at Eastern Michigan University. He also served as a researcher on U-M’s Study of Instructional Improvement. Before pursuing an academic career, Peurach was a high school mathematics teacher and, before that, a systems analyst in manufacturing, health care, and higher education.
Peurach holds a BA in computer science from Wayne State University, an MPP from the Ford School of Public Policy at U-M, and a PhD in Educational Studies from the School of Education at U-M.