Rachel Elizabeth Williams

Assistant Professor


204 Education Building

1000 Bascom Mall

Madison, Wisconsin 53706

Williams, Rachel

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Rachel Elizabeth Williams is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Policy Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her interdisciplinary research brings together Black studies and critical geography with education policy to examine race, place, and political economy in the U.S. metropolitan South. Her research agenda explores: 1) the impact of charter schools and state takeover on local democratic governance in majority Black contexts; 2) the relationship between education, capital, and the spatial organization of metropolitan landscapes and 3) Black intra-racial politics, representation, and (spatial) imaginaries within and beyond racial capitalism. Her work has been supported by the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation and the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowships.


  • PhD Education, University of California, Berkeley, 2022
  • MPP Education Policy, Vanderbilt University, 2015
  • BA Psychology, Dillard University, 2013

Select Publications

  • Lu, A., & Williams, R. E. (2023). White charter boards and the erasure of Blackness in southern urban spaces: A comparative analysis of New Orleans and Memphis public school takeovers. Urban Education Online Publication/Abstract.
  • Williams, R. E. (2023). The Political Economy of Subprime Educational Policy: A Critical Analysis of Charter Schools in Black Communities. The Review of Black Political Economy Online Publication/Abstract.
  • Trujillo, T., Williams, R. E., & Kissell, R. (2019). Review: Takeover: Race, Education, and American Democracy by Domingo Morel. American Journal of Education, 126(1), 183-185. Online Publication/Abstract.

Select Awards and Honors

  • Summer Writing Grant for Humanistic Social Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, 2022
  • AERA & UCEA David L. Clark Scholar, AERA & UCEA, 2021
  • Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, Ford Foundation, 2021
  • National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, 2021
  • Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness Summer Fellowship, Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness, 2021
  • Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, Honorable Mention, 2020
  • University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor’s Fellowship, 2016