Jacob Fay is an advanced doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and was a graduate fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. His research focuses on the ethics of education policy and practice, as well as contemporary political theory. His thesis develops an innovative ecological theory of injustice that synthesizes different theoretical accounts of injustice—such as those of critical theorist Nancy Fraser, and those of liberal theorists like Judith Shklar and Amartya Sen—with insights inspired by developmental psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory. Bronfenbrenner reconceptualized human development as changes in how individuals perceive and act within various contexts. Drawing on his work as an analogy, he argues that injustice is best understood as an ecological relationship among persons and social, political, economic, and cultural contexts. This view puts everyday claims of injustice front and center, positioning them as a valuable source of moral insight into injustice. But taking claims to be central to an account of injustice raises new questions, which his dissertation also seeks to answer: Which and whose claims of injustice require response? In cases where claims of injustice conflict with each other, how different should different claims be weighed, prioritized, or adjudicated?
While at HGSE, Jacob served as the co-chair of the board of the Harvard Educational Review and was a member of the Spencer Foundation’s Philosophy of Education Institute. He is also currently a member of the Early Career Scholars Program that develops young scholars to work in the field of New Civics. He presents regularly at numerous conferences, including the Philosophy of Education Society and the American Educational Research Association.
Prior to his doctoral studies, Jacob taught eighth-grade history at the Dwight-Englewood School in New Jersey, where he helped develop the middle school's advisory program. He was recognized for his teaching both by the school's departmental award, the Ralph Sloan Fellowship, and by the Facing History and Ourselves Organization annual Margot Stern Strom Award. He holds an AB in history from Princeton University, an MA in American history from Brandeis University, an EdM from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and is a proud graduate of the Shady Hill Teacher Training Course.