University of Notre Dame

College of Arts and Letters

Department of Africana Studies

Maria McKenna


Director of Undergradute Studies, Africana Studies; Assistant Professor of the Practice, Africana Studies and Education, Schooling, and Society

Maria McKenna received her Ph.D. from Saint Louis University in Educational Foundations after completing her undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Notre Dame and Northwestern University respectively.  Professor McKenna holds multiple roles at the University including Director of Undergraduate Studies for Africana Studies.  She is also the Senior Associate Director of the Education, Schooling and Society, an academic minor in the College of Arts and Letters. Her teaching and advising duties span both departments. Her research and teaching focus on the social contexts of American education, educational care, and minority experience in American public education, with a focus on the child and parent perspective/voice related to educational environments and opportunities. She has a particular interest in understanding urban, public school environments and the constituent groups that use those schools. McKenna’s work has been published by Palgrave Publishing,  Peter Lang, Urban Review, Urban Education, School Community Journal, the Association of Teacher Educators, and the Journal of Philosophy and History of Education.  Her current writing focuses on a community based research project examining civic engagement and youth empowerment via multiple literacies and student generated models of educational care.  In her spare time, she supports Good Shepherd Montessori School and the Robinson Community Learning Center serving on their Board of Directors. She and her husband, Mark, have four children and reside in South Bend, Indiana.  

You can contact Professor McKenna at 631-0452 or