DSC01038John P. Portelli was born in Malta where, after completing a B.A. (Philosophy & Maltese, 1975), he taught history and modern languages at a secondary school and philosophy at a sixth form. In 1977 he was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship and commenced his studies at McGill University from where he obtained an M.A. (1979) and a Ph.D. (1984). Currently he is a professor in the Department of Social Justice Education, and the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at OISE, University of Toronto. He is Co-director of the Centre for Leadership and Diversity and a fellow of St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto.

Before joining OISE in 1999 he taught in several universities: The University of Malta (1980), McGill University (1982-1985), Dalhousie University (Killam Post-Doctoral Fellow, 1985-1986), Mount Saint Vincent University (1986 – 1999). He was a visiting professor at the University of Malta (1992), Acadia University (1997), the University of British Columbia (1998), and the University of Verona (2010, 2011). 

He has extensive administrative experience including the position of program coordinator, associate chair of department, and Director of Graduate programs at OISE.

He has published 10 books including two books of poetry, and over 100 articles and chapters in books. His most recent book is Key Questions for Educational Leaders (July 2015: Word and Deed Publ. Inc.) with Dr. Darrin Griffiths. He has also made over 100 presentations at national and international conferences. Two of his books won the American Educational Studies Association Critic Award, and another of his books won the Canadian Association for the Foundations of Education Book Award.

His research includes theoretical and empirical studies. He has led several national research projects in Canada and elsewhere. In total he has been awarded close to $1 million for research projects.

He is an excellent and engaging speaker and instructor with international reputation and proven record. In 2005 he received the Canadian Society for the Study of Education Mentorship Award. In March 2013 he was awarded the David E. Hunt Graduate Teaching Award at the University of Toronto He has given keynote addresses and lectures in Canada, U.S.A., Italy, England, Malta, Bahrain, Morocco, Austria, Greece, France, Portugal, Ireland, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. He is frequently invited to give keynote addresses and workshops in his areas of research and teaching which include: continuous professional development, quality assurance, student engagement; students ‘at risk’; democratic education; teaching controversial issues; leadership, equity and diversity; intercultural education and dialogue; educational policy and equity; neoliberalism and education; social justice education; reflective practice;  and ethical issues in educational leadership.

Since 1982 he has worked closely with teachers and school administrators in Canada and internationally.  He has been a member of the Board of the National Commission for Higher Education of Malta since 2006, and a Lead Expert for the European Mediterranean University, Slovenia (on issues of quality assurance).  In 2014 he was appointed Chair of the Quality Assurance Committee for Further and Higher Education in Malta. He has carried out Quality Assurance work in several countries including Malta, Slovenia, Turkey, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.