Carlos Alberto Torres (1950 - )

Torres Carlos Alberto

Short Biography & Significant Contribution

Carlos Alberto Torres has been a professor at the University of California Los Angeles, UCLA, since 1990, where he has served in numerous other capacities including Director of the Latin American Center, Head of the Division of Social Sciences and Comparative Education, and Assistant Dean of Student Affairs. In 1991, in partnership with several colleagues, he created the Paulo Freire Institute, PFI, and is currently serving as the Founding Director of the PFI at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA.

He served as Chair for the Commission of Education and Society of the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO), as an advisor to the Argentine National Congress and as "a member of the Scientific Commission that worked with the Secretary of State of Science and Technology in Argentina." He has served as the president of the Comparative and International Education Society (1996-1997) as well as the associate editor of the Comparative Education Review (1999-2003).

Dr. Torres has authored over 60 books and nearly 200 articles and chapters. Although his work focuses primarily on countries within Latin America, he recently co-edited a book entitled Cultures of Arab Schooling: Critical Ethnographies from Egypt and his studies have drawn from nations around the globe. He has been a visiting professor in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa and has lectured extensively throughout the world. He was educated at Universidad de Salvador in Argentina, FLACSO in Mexico, Stanford University in the United States and the University of Alberta in Canada.

In the prologue to his forthcoming book, The Political Sociology of Education, Torres refers to the "development of a political sociology of the primary contribution of [his] scholarly work" (p. 1). He succinctly defines the political sociology of education as "trying to understand how education (particularly non-formal, adult, and popular education) contributes to social change, national development and the betterment of individuals and families" (p. 2). Elsewhere he describes it as "an interdisciplinary hybrid" that takes into account "historical and structural perspectives" and "connections between civil society and political society" (Mora-Ninci, C. & Ruiz, G., Eds., Sociología política de la educación en perspective internacional y comparada: Las contribuciones de Carlos Alberto Torres, 2008, p. 130). He believes "its center of attention [is] an emphasis on questions of power, influence, and authority" (Torres, forthcoming, p. 5).

In addition to this important component of his work Torres has focused on the characteristics of dependent states in Latin America (Santuario, Interview with Torres, 2000, p. 7) and how educational policy changes in terms of the relationships and power dynamics inherent in those states. Torres has been an outspoken critic of neo-liberal globalization and its effects on the lives of disenfranchised individuals. He views "compensatory legitimation" as a neo-liberal tool for incorporating "disenfranchised populations within corporatist political representation" and as a gesture of improvement rather than a "real improvement" towards altering an individual's social and economic mobility or quality of life (Torres, forthcoming , p. 29).

A third general area of focus for Torres has been the pursuit of alternatives to the sort of development and educational policies that result from neo-liberalism and specifically "compensatory legitimation." It is within this area that Torres' work has drawn from and added to the work of Paulo Freire, specifically critical and emaneducation within the context of adult and non-formal education. Through the pursuit of this third focus Torres has become Paulo Freire's principal biographer.

In addition to his contributions to comparative education and the politics and sociology of education, Torres is a published poet and short story author.

Educational Background

B.A. in Sociology with teaching credentials, Universidad del Salvador, Argentina (1974)

M.A. in Political Science, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Mexico (1978)

M.A. in International Development Education, Stanford University, Unites States (1982)

Ph.D. in International Development Education, Stanford University, United States (1983)

Post-doctoral studies in Education Foundations, University of Alberta, Canada (1988)

Professional Background

Professor of Social Sciences and Comparative Education, UCLA,1990-present
- Professor and Director of the UCLA Latin American Center (1995-2005) 
- Director of the Paulo Freire Institute (2002-present) 
- Chair of the Commission on Education and Society of the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (1998-2003) 

Division Head of the Social Sciences and Comparative Education, Department of Education, UCLA (1994-1995)

Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, UCLA (1992-1995)

Chair of Comparative and Topical Programs, Latin American Center, UCLA (1991-1994)

Visiting Professor, The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Department of Adult Education, Toronto (1988-1989)

Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Foundations, University of Alberta (1988-1990)

Affiliations (associations, organizations, institutions)

Comparative and International Education Society (CIES)

World Council of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES)

American Educational Research Association (AERA)

Asociación Latinoamericana de Sociología (ALAS)

International Political Science Association (IPSA)

Selected Publications

Torres, C.A. (in process). The Political sociology of education: Collected works. New York. Teachers College Press. [many of Torres' most notable works]

Herrea, L. & Torres, C.A. (Eds.). (2006). Cultures of Arab schooling: Critical ethnographies from Egypt. New York. Suny Press.

Torres, C.A. (2005). La praxis educativa y la educación cultural liberadora de Paulo Freire. Xátiva, Valencia. Institute Paulo Freire D'Espanya.

Torres, C.A. & Morrow, R. (1999). Social theory and education: A critique of theories of social and cultural reproduction. Albany. State University of New York Press.

Torres, C.A. (1998). Democracy, education, and multiculturalism: Dilemmas of citizenship in a global world. Lanham. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.


Created: 8/21/2008

Updated: 8/21/2008

Contributed By: Renée Timberlake, Loyola University Chicago