Anna Stetsenko

Anna Stetsenko

Research Interests

  • Human development, education, developmental psychology, teaching-learning, radical pedagogy, critical theory, mind and cognition, history of psychology, self and identity, creativity, play, activism in research, culture and cultural contexts
  • agency and social transformation, collective agency, cultural-historical activity theory, Vygotsky’s approach, transformative ontology, epistemology and philosophy or psychology, dis/ability as socioculturally situated, Marxism


  • Ph.D. in Psychology, Moscow State Lomonosov University

Anna Stetsenko came to The Graduate Center, CUNY in 1999 with years of experience in leading research centers and Universities in Europe, including University of Bern (Switzerland), Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Education (Berlin, Germany), Center for Cultural Studies (Vienna, Austria), Moscow State University and the Russian Academy of Education.

She has published widely on human development and education, creativity and play, agency and social transformation, identity and learning, cultural-historical activity theory, contextualizing dis/ability, Vygotskian approach – in several languages (English, Russian, Italian and German). Her works have appeared in many leading international journals and she serves on editorial boards of several journals. Her research has been supported by grants from various agencies such as National Science Foundation (NSF), Swiss Science Foundation and Jacobs Foundation (Switzerland). She collaborates with researchers all over the world such as at the Universities in South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Finland, Denmark, and Russia. She served as the principal advisor on 20 Ph.D. dissertations that have been completed (and many more are in the pipeline now).

Her recent book is The Transformative Mind: Expanding Vygotsky’s Approach to Development and Education (Cambridge University Press, 2016), which brings together and critically examines a wide spectrum of approaches to develop an original framework termed the Transformative Activist Stance and associated Pedagogy of Daring. One of the outlets for applying these ideas is in working with the disadvantaged populations in child welfare system and community college (see publications with Eduardo Vianna).

Awards and Grants

  • Grant from the National Science Foundation (co-PI with Dr. Susan Kirch, NYU), 2009-2011. Case Study for Kids: Teaching and Learning the Nature of Scientific Evidence in Elementary School. $448,800.
  • Grant from the Spencer Foundation, Regenerating cultural-historical activity theory, with M. Cole, K. Gutierrez, B. Rogoff et al. Co-participant, attending conferences and presenting in Berkeley University (January 2019); UCSD (June 6-8, 2019). 2000/01.
  • PSC-CUNY Award #61773-00-30. Grant support for the study on “The Dynamics of Gender Identity Associated with Context Change.” Principal Investigator 1998-1999.
  • Grant awarded by the W.T. Grant Foundation for the study on "Adolescence in the 21st Century" (member of a study group).
  • National Swiss Science Foundation Grant for research on "The Social Construction of Gender in Adolescence: Impact of the Changing Life Conditions" (principal investigator; together with Dr. Marina Mdivani, Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education, Moscow, Russia). Selected by competitive review. 28,000.00 SFR.
  • Grant from the Academy of Sciences (Finland) for research on "Gender and Societal Values in Adolescents' Development" (together with Dr. Klaus Helkama, University of Helsinki, Finland). Selected by competitive review. 4,000.00 SFR.
  • National Swiss Science Foundation Grant for research on "Gender Identity: A Cross-cultural Comparison" (principal investigator; together with Dr. Elena Samoylenko, Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education, Moscow, Russia). Selected by competitive review. 16,000.00 SFR.

Professional Affiliations and Memberships

  • American Educational Research Association
  • American Psychological Association

Courses Taught

  • Developmental Psychology
  • Agency and Social Transformation
  • Teaching-Learning and Development
  • History of Psychology
  • Ethics in Psychology
  • The Development of Self and Identity
  • Professional Development Seminar (the last 10 years)


  • Stetsenko, A. (2020). Critical challenges in cultural-historical activity theory: The urgency of agency. Cultural-Historical Psychology, Vol. 16, no. 2, 5–18.
  • Stetsenko, A. (2020). Radical-transformative agency: Developing a transformative activist stance on a Marxist-Vygotskyan foundation. In Neto, Liberali, Dafermos (Eds.), Revisiting Vygotsky for social change (31-62). London: Peter Lang.
  • Stetsenko (2020). Transformative-activist approach to the history of psychology: Taking up history from a philosophy of resistance and social justice stance. The Oxford Encyclopedia of the History of Psychology (Oxford University Press, W. Pickren, ed.). DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190236557.013.466
  • Stetsenko (2020). Personhood through the lens of radical-transformative agency. In Sugarman & Martin (Eds.), A Humanities Approach to the Psychology of Personhood (65 – 83). London: Routledge.
  • Stetsenko, A. (2019). Cultural-historical activity theory meets developmental systems perspective: Transformative activist stance and natureculture. In A. Edwards, M. Fleer and L. Bottcher (Eds.), Cultural-historical approaches to studying learning and development: societal, institutional and personal perspectives (pp. 249-262). London: Routledge.
  • Stetsenko, A. (2019). Creativity as dissent and resistance: Transformative approach premised on social justice agenda. In Lebuda and Glaveanu (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Social Creativity (431-446). London: Springer.
  • Stetsenko (2019). Radical-transformative agency: Continuities and contrasts with relational agency and implications for education. Frontiers in Education,
  • Vianna, E., & Stetsenko, A. (2019). Turning resistance into passion for knowledge with the tools of agency: Teaching-learning about theories of evolution for social justice among foster youth. Perspectiva, 38(4), 864-886.