Alexander Fink

Assistant Professor, Faculty Director, Sabo Center

CB 51

Learning should be fun, meaningful, and co-created with learners (students). Spaces for learning should embody the practices and places we hope to create in our professional work. For me, this means valuing life experiences and practice wisdom, trying on co-determination, committing to practicing anti-racism and anti-colonialism in ways of gathering, talking, and working, and a steadfast ethos of care, inter-dependency, and community. It is premised, as much as possible in institutional forms of education or social work practice, on an ethic of invitation: what kind of world do we want to create as we gather in this moment? How do you want to be part of it?


Ph.D. University of Minnesota, Social Work and Youth Studies

MSW University of Minnesota, Social Work

B.A. University of Minnesota, Cultural Studies and Philosophy


  • Human Behavior and the Social Environment
  • Field Seminar
  • Social Work Research and Evaluation
  • Social Work and Environmental Justice

Prior to Fall 2022 – Undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of Minnesota in leadership development, youth development and youth studies, and instructional development.

Research Interests

My research agenda is learning, creating, using, and teaching strategies to build communally owned, just, and sustainable futures. My particular focus at present is on the political economy and ecology of data, including data collection, data use, data access/sharing, data economics and infrastructures, and the ideologies surrounding it. I am currently working on the use of data in nonprofits and the role of data intermediaries. This practice, and thus also my research and teaching, occur at the intersections of participatory research methods, youth leadership development, the history of social movements, and technology.


    • Youth Participatory and Youth-Led Research & Program Evaluation, Youth Power
    • Community Informatics and Infrastructure, Data and Design Justice,
    • Learning (Active, Experiential, Adaptive, Emergent), Youth Studies & Youth Work,
    • Organizational & Leadership Development, Peer Production.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Fink, A. (2024). Data cooperative. Internet Policy Review, 13(2).

Fink, A. (2024). Leadership to what end? Connecting our practice to broader movements. New Directions in Student Leadership, 181, 21-30.

Werner, L. & Fink, A. (2024). The classroom as laboratory: A theoretical grounding of the Intentional Emergence framework for leadership development. New Directions in Student Leadership, 181, 41-52.

Fink, A., Habtamu, B., Kunkel-Linares, A., Pence, M., Woller, K., & Alexander, I. (2024). Everybody teach! Upending traditional disciplinary curriculum to create co-taught, praxis-based, higher education courses. In H.M.A. Williams, H. Huskić, & Noto, C.M. (Eds.), Disrupting Hierarchy in Education: Students and Teachers Collaborating for Social Change. Teachers College Press.

VeLure Roholt, R.., Fink, A., & Ahmed, M. M. (2023). The Learning Partner: Dialogic approaches to monitoring and evaluation in international social development. Knowledge Management for Development Journal, 17(1/2).

Fink, A., & VeLure Roholt, R. (2022). Emerging tensions in data work: Staff and youth perspectives in youth-serving organizations. Social Service Review, 96(4), 617-654.

Fink, A., & VeLure Roholt, R. (2022). Surfacing Human Service Organizations’ Data Use Practices: Toward a Critical Performance Measurement Framework. The Journal of Community Informatics, 18.

Fink, A., & Brito, M. (2020). Real Big Data: How We Know Who We Know in Youth Work. Child & Youth Services, 1–29.

Alexander, I. D., & Fink, A. (2018). Designing an inclusive intercultural online participatory seminar for higher education teachers and professionals. In N. B. Dohn, S. Cranmer, J. Sime, M. de Laat, & T. Ryberg (Eds.), Networked Learning: Research in Networked Learning (pp. 125–148). Springer International Publishing.

Fink, A. (2018). Bigger data, less wisdom: The need for more inclusive collective intelligence in social service provision. AI & Society, 33(1), 61–70.

Fink, A. (2015). We Don’t Want a Teacher: Using the Past to Offer Fresh Eyes to Contemporary Practice. Child & Youth Services, 36(1), 56–78.

Wildermuth, C. de-M.-S.-. M., Smith-Bright, E., Noll-Wilson, S., & Fink, A. (2015). Walking the Razor?’s Edge: Risks and Rewards for Students and Faculty adopting Case in Point Teaching and Learning Approaches. Journal of Leadership Education, 14(2), 30–50.

Baizerman, M., Roholt, R. V. . V., & Fink, A. (2014). Evaluation Advisory Groups. Research on Social Work Practice, 24(2), 186–187.

Brito, M., Fink, A., Friend, C., Heidebrink-Bruno, A., Moe, R., Shaffer, K., Robin, V., & Wharton, R. (2014). Love in the Time of Peer Review. Hybrid Pedagogy. time-peer-review/

Soria, K., Fink, A., Lepkowski, C., & Snyder, L. (2013). Undergraduate Student Leadership and Social Change. Journal of College and Character, 14(3).

Soria, K., Nobbe, J., & Fink, A. (2013). Examining the Intersections between Undergraduates’ Engagement in Community Service and Development of Socially Responsible Leadership. Journal of Leadership Education, 12(1), 117–139.

Brito, M., & Fink, A. (2013). Learning from early childhood education—Higher ed and the process of becoming. Hybrid Pedagogy.

Baizerman, M. L., Fink, A., & VeLure Roholt, R. (2012). From consilium to advice: A review of the evaluation and related literature on advisory structures and processes. New Directions for Evaluation, 2012(136), 5–29.