Deborah Young


Associate Professor, Early Childhood Education
Core Faculty


BA in Early Childhood Education - Core Faculty
BA in Peace Studies - Core Faculty
Elementary Teacher Licensure Program - Core Faculty


PhD: Education Leadership and Innovation (Innovations in Early childhood)
EdS: Educational Specialist In Administration, Leadership and Policy (Community development and leadership)
MA: Foundations of Education and Curriculum Development (Service learning as curriculum for diverse students)
TEFL Certified
Montessori Certified (Primary)
BFA: Photography
BA: Art History, Art Education, Education (Wilderness education for teens at risk, Critical Pedagogy)
Teacher licensure in Art K-12 and Science, Principal Licensure

Deborah Young is a mom of five children. She began her career as a juvenile probation officer with the Boulder County Sheriff's Department. She then taught art at Boulder High School before being drawn into her lifelong commitment of early childhood education and the needs of the poor.

She began her educational training in Montessori Education with Dr. Caspari and at the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential. Her educational framework is that of popular education embracing critical pedagogy and participatory action research as way to move towards peace and social and ecological justice. She has been a keynote for several International Conferences on the topics of Gross National Happiness Education, Contemplative Critical Pedagogy, Education from the Heart, Education in a Diverse World, Education for Marginalized Populations. She has been the primary investigator for several multiyear long participatory action research studies, examples include a national research study in Bhutan to develop Gross National Happiness Pedagogy and a PAR study using early childhood care, development, and education as a way to increase the quality of life of those impacted from poverty.

Deborah develops programs to serve locally and globally marginalized populations. She has volunteered for more than 33 years serving women, children and their families in impoverished countries. She has combined her academics with service starting in the Sanctuary movement of the 1980’s sheltering refugee women through and co-founding Boulder’s sister city with Jalapa, Nicaragua. She has co-facilitated the opening of 18 educational centers and schools; co-founded several grassroots organizations that focus on empowerment for women and children around the world.

She is currently the executive director of The Americas Association for the Care of Children and designs and directs community development programs serving women, children and their families in rural villages and impoverished urban areas of Central America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa. Deborah’s college classes involve a commitment to service work locally with international opportunities.

From the Heart

Being the Chair of the Education Department Undergraduate program for the last 12 years has deepened my knowledge, practice, and enthusiasm about contemplative education evidenced through my personal and professional transformation. The willingness of Naropa to engage with the inner work required to contribute in creating a socially and ecologically just world inspires and nourishes my purpose as a life-long teacher and learner.  Naropa’s unique learning community continues provides opportunity to continue to meet the ever-changing needs of today’s youth.


Three time Fulbright Scholar 2012 - Bhutan; 2014 Costa Rica; 2015 Palestine
Teacher for Social Justice Award 2013
Hawkins Lifetime Achievement Award, 2013.

Courses Taught

  • Education, Culture, and Contemplative Critical Pedagogy
  • Poverty Matters
  • Education and Nature
  • Observing Development (Infants/Toddlers and preschool - 12 years)
  • Alternative Break: Border Studies
  • Self and Community in a Complex World
  • Literacy for young children
  • Exceptional Child; Holistic Teaching Traditions, Supervised Teaching Practicum
  • Teaching Young Children
  • Issues in Education: The Mary Culkin Series
  • Multi-Cultural Education and the Convention of the Rights of the Child