Sherry Keith

Emeritus Professor

As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, I had difficulty choosing between a major in history, or sociology. This is evidence of a fundamentally interdisciplinary inclination toward knowledge and understanding the world. Due to historical and personal circumstances, I found myself in the Caribbean after completing a master’s degree in England. Here I worked as an educational planner for the Ministry of Education of the newly independent Government of Jamaica. Issues of de-colonization, imperialism and the optimal ways to design educational systems to serve national needs became my focus for the next two and one half decades. In 1974, I completed my doctorate at Stanford University and began teaching at the University of the West Indies’s Jamaica campus. However, in 1976, I had the opportunity to emigrate to Brazil where I became at faculty member at the Federal University of Minas Gerais. During these travels, my formation in sociology and history kept my attention trained on how education could improve both individual lives and the fabric of society. 

Thus most of my research, writing and publications have been dedicated to these concerns. In the mid-1990s I returned to Brazil helping found a project to improve educational quality as well as democratize schools in the Northeast region. At this time, together with colleagues, I published A Escola Participativa, (The Participatory School) a book about participatory school management which is now in its 11th edition. Most recently I have been researching the impact of nature on children’s well being in highly urbanized environments and have a book project underway on this topic. Related to this current passion, I created a new course at SF State,  Childhood, Nature and Society (LS460). Take it, even if you are a history major!  My other recent writings include The Alligator’s Tooth (a memoir published in 2012) and a novel, The Red Suitcase Travels in Brazil, which will be published in 2016.


  • Ph.D. Stanford University, 1974, International Development Education
  • Dissertation: Teacher-Pupil Relations in Jamaican Primary Schools
  • M.A. University of Essex (Colchester, England), 1968 Sociology of Literature
  • B.A. University of California (Berkeley), 1967, Sociology



  • History of Brazil
  • History of Women in Latin America
  • American Childhoods Past and Present
  • Community Service Learning in the Schools
  • Childhood, Nature and Society
  • Introduction to the Social Sciences
  • Women and the World


  • Childhood in the 20th and 21st centuries
  • Changing Ideologies towards Nature in 19th-21st century Americas; Brazilian & Caribbean  
  • Culture and Politics
  • Gender in the Americas, 20th century




Against his girlfriend’s wishes, Xander leaves London to discover the Brazil he lost when moving to Scotland as a teenager. There his mother’s journals, full of family secrets and her own travels, await him. He journeys to Rio de Janeiro where he meets Ana Claudia, a beautiful, feisty law student. She introduces him to life in Rio’s chic Zona Sul and some of the troubling underside of this glittering metropolis. Seeking adventure, Xander travels northeast to Espiritu Santo where he visits Daniela, a young mother and activist with the Landless Workers’ Movement. Through his mother’s journals, he visits an encampment of families living in a tent city for two years.

  • The Alligator’s Tooth and Other Stories for My Grandchildren,  Berkeley: Hill Press 2012
  • A Escola Participativa co-authored with Robert Girl1ng, Heloisa Luck and Katia Siqueria de Freitas, Sao Paulo:  Vozes, S.A., 10th revised edition 2005
  • Action Guide for Girls’ Education, co-authored with members of the San Francisco Bay Area Girls’ Education Network, New York: Women’s
  • Inc., United Nations. 1996
  • “Women and the Environment: Four Projects in Brazil” in Gender and Susatainable  Development:  A New Paradigm,  New York:  The United     Nations Development Fund distributed by Women’s Inc. of the United Nations. 1996
  • The Impact of the California State University on California's Economy, 1993  - 2002. monograph published by Chancellor's Office, California  State  University, Long Beach, CA. 1993
  • Education, Management and Participation,  co-authored with Robert H.  Girling, Boston:  Allyn & Bacon, 1991


  • Improving Support Services for Rural Schools:  A Management Perspective monograph. The World Bank,  Washington, D.C. 1989
  • Human Resources Sector Survey: Belize technical report. The Academy for Educational Development,  Washington, D.C. (primary education section) 1988
  • Education Sector Survey: Ghana technical report. 1985
  • The World Bank, Washington, D.C. (entire report)
  • Human Resources Sector Survey of the Eastern Caribbean . Miranda Associates, Washington,D.C., (primary education section) 1985
  • Staff Appraisal Report:  Urban Basic Education in North and Centerwest Brazil, The World Bank. 1984 
  • Sector Report: Brazil, Basic Education, The World Bank, (entire report) 1983
  • The Limits of Female Education in Mexico monograph Fundacion Xavier Barros Sierra, Mexico City 1981
  • The Politics of Textbook Selection monograph Institute for Research on  Education Finance and Governance, Stanford University 1981
  • Teacher's Guide to State Adopted Materials on Latin America, Center for International Studies,  Stanford University 1980
  • Caribbean Conflict: Jamaica and the US monograph, North American Congress on Latin America, Vol.   XII, No. 3, May-June, 1978
  • Bay Area Resource Guide to Teaching on Latin America Center for Latin  American Studies,  Stanford University 1978


  • “O NAFTA e O Mercado de Trabalho Feminino” in Mulher e Mercosul Vol. II,  Brasilia:  Faculdade Latin-Americano de Ciencias Socais 1999
  • “Mainstreaming Gender in the World Bank Mozambique Country Assistance  Program”  a position paper for the Mozambique Country Assistance Team, The World Bank, Washington, DC.1999
  • “Revendo a Administracao de Escolas no Brasil”  in Estado e Politica  Educacional , Colecao EPEN, Volume 4, Brasil:  EDFURN, Editoria da Universidade Federal de Rio Grande do Norte 1998
  • “ The Future of Social Studies”  School Review,  Vol. 3, No. 2 1994
  • "Teaching Morality:  A Commentary"  School Review, Vol. 1, No. 2 1991
  • "Determinants of Textbook Content" in Textbooks in American Society, Philip Altbach, et al (ed) , N.Y.: SUNY Press 1991
  • "Management Education in Developing Countries:  The Brazilian Experience" (book review) Revista  Interamericana de Bibliografia, vol. XXXVIII,No.1 1998
  • "The Contributions of the Social Sciences to Educational Policy and Practice: 1965 - 1985"  (book review), Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Winter, 1986, Vol.8, No.4 1986
  • "Choosing Textbooks:  A Study of Instructional Materials Selection for Public Education: in Book Review Quarterly, Vol.1, No.2, Summer 1985
  • "Educational Publishing in Latin America" (book chapter) in Publishing in the Third World,  Philip Altbach, ed., London: Heinemann 1985
  • "Investment in Basic Education" Report, Washington, D.C.: The World Bank 1982
  • "The Planning and Management of Jamaica's Special Employment Program:   Lessons and Limitations" Social and Economic Studies, Vol. 29,  No. 2, June 1980
  • "Women and Development:  Theoretical Notes and  Background for Teachers" Social Studies Review  Vol.19,No.3, Spring 1980
  • "An Historical Overview of the State and  Educational Policy in Jamaica"  Latin American Perspectives, vol. V, No.2, Spring 1978
  • “Jamaica:  Bauxite and De-stablization”  North American Congress on Latin America Report  1978
  • "Towards a Theory of Development Education" Papers in Educational Development ,no. 3; Dar es Salaam: Department of Education, University of Dar es Salaam 1976
  • "Socialization in the Jamaican Primary School:  A Study of Teacher  Evaluation and Student Participation" (book chapter) in Sociology of Education:  A Caribbean Reader,  Peter M. Figuero and  Ganga Persuad (eds),  London: Oxford University   Press 1976


  • 2001–2003 Fulbright  Scholar Award, Brazil:  Center for Research and Postgraduate Study of the Americas,  University of Brasilia
  • 1996-97 Visiting Professor/Researcher Federal University of Bahia, Salvador Brazil.  National Council for Scientific Research, Government of Brazil
  • 1995-97 Funding for the Program in Participatory School , Federal University
  • of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil Ford Foundation, Rio de Janeiro office
  • 1995 Fulbright Senior Lecturer/Research Award:  Post Graduate Program
  • in Education, Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil
  • 1992  Grant "The Economic Impact of the California State University System on California's Economy" from the CSU Chancellor's Office
  • 1991  Mini-grant to initiate research on the impact of UNICEF and World   Bank Programs on women. 
  • President's Research and Professional Development grant, SF State.            
  • 1973  Social Science Research Council:  Latin American Joint Research Seminar,  Santiago, Chile.
  • 1970 - 1974 Ford Foundation:  Doctoral Studies Fellowship


  • Board Member, Comparative & International Education Society, 1990 - 1996


  • East Bay Regional Parks Native Plants Botanical Garden, Docent
  • Environmental Education Center, Tilden Park, Docent
  • Muir Woods National Monument, Docent
  • The Writing Project of the East Bay,  Writing Coach