Dr. Zehra Colak

Martinus J. Langeveldgebouw
Heidelberglaan 1
Kamer E3.11
3584 CS Utrecht

Dr. Zehra Colak


Zehra Çolak is currently a postdoctoral researcher on a Dutch Research Council (NWO) project titled Re/Presenting Europe: Popular Representations of Diversity and BelongingHer primary research focus is belonging among minoritized youth in secondary schools and community-based organizations in Amsterdam and Utrecht. Drawing on qualitative research methods (e.g., observations, interviews, ethnography, and focus groups) and multidisciplinary perspectives, her work seeks to trace alternative/imaginative practices of belonging across learning contexts and contribute to the research on justice-oriented pedagogy. During her Ph.D. research at KU Leuven (Belgium), Zehra analyzed institutional and everyday mechanisms of exclusion and racialization in higher education, based on qualitative interviews with minoritized university students. Her findings highlight how young people navigate these mechanisms in higher education through building counter-spaces and avoiding potentially exclusive environments.

Zehra has taught courses on cultural diversity and inclusion in teaching and learning at the Graduate School of Teaching and the Department of Education and Pedagogy. Additionally, she has been a supervisor for academic master's degree students in the Educational Sciences. Throughout her academic career, Zehra has actively contributed to (inter)national academic networks in various roles. She is the co-coordinator of The Standing Committee Education and Social Inequality which aims to bring together international experts working at the intersection of education and social inequalities. Also, she serves as an Editorial Board Member for Ethnic and Racial Studies and the section on Race and Ethnicity for Sociology Compass.

As part of her passion for science communication, Zehra has recently co-developed a podcast project titled Joy in Academia. This collective effort aims to trace practices of joy in academia and bring racialized academics together to nurture, heal, grow, think, be, and journey together despite persistent challenges. The podcast project is funded by Migration and Societal Change.