Patricia Leavy, Ph.D., is a best-selling, award-winning novelist, arts advocate, and internationally recognized leader in research design and arts-based research.
She is widely considered the world’s most visible proponent of arts-based research as a means of making research publicly accessible. Moreover, she coined the terms “social fiction” and “fiction-based research” and has been pioneering the world-wide effort to legitimate fiction as a research practice. A prolific author, Dr. Leavy has published over 40 books.
She has earned critical and commercial success in both nonfiction and fiction, and her work has been translated into numerous languages. Dr. Leavy’s works have garnered a slew of book awards, over 100, including USA Best Book Awards, Independent Press Awards, International Impact Book Awards, National Indie Excellence Awards, Firebird Book Awards, International Book Awards, New York City Big Book Awards, and American Fiction Awards.
On the academic side, Dr. Leavy earned her Ph.D. in Sociology at Boston College in 2002. She was a tenured Associate Professor of Sociology at Stonehill College from 2002-2012 where she also served as Founding Director of the Gender Studies Program and the Chairperson of the Sociology & Criminology Department. Dr. Leavy previously taught at Boston College, Northeastern University, and Curry College. In 2012 Dr. Leavy left academia to focus her full-time efforts on her work as an author and public intellectual. Dr. Leavy recently served on the advisory board for the Arts and Humanities in Medicine Program at The University of Maine.
In addition to her own writing, Dr. Leavy is co-founder of Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal, and served as co-editor-in-chief for many years. She continues to serve on the editorial boards of numerous journals. Dr. Leavy is also widely recognized for her pioneering work creating innovative publishing opportunities for other scholars and artists, through the 1o book series for which she has served as creator and series editor over the course of her career for Oxford University Press, Guilford Press, and Brill/Sense. The Social Fictions series she created, for which she served as editor for 10 years, is the first and only academic book series to solely publish full-length literary works. The ground-breaking series received global attention, earned a national creativity award, and produced many award-winning and best-selling titles under Dr. Leavy’s tenure as editor and creative visionary. She also worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help authors retain more control over their work and better financial terms. In a move that had many publicly likening her to the Taylor Swift of book publishing, she used her considerable clout at Brill, a global publisher with a more than 300-year history, to secure substantially better terms for authors including but not limited to digital embargos, higher royalty rates, full royalty payments for previously unpaid bulk sales, and shared copyright ownership. She also negotiated a unique publishing agreement for herself, allowing her to license her work without giving up ownership. Her negotiations were game-changing in academic publishing and have influenced standard practices.
In 2021 she launched Paper Stars Press, her own publishing imprint, primarily to rerelease new versions of some of her most beloved books. Today, she spends most of her time as a novelist, publishing with She Writes Press.
Dr. Leavy has received numerous career awards. The New England Sociological Association named Dr. Leavy the 2010 New England Sociologist of the Year. Dr. Leavy received a 2014 Special Achievement Award from the American Creativity Association which honors creativity and innovation in every field. The Special Achievement award recognizes her extraordinary work advancing arts-based research and the ground-breaking Social Fictions series. Arts-based scholars from all over the world, including many of the Social Fictions authors, sent in letters of support calling Dr. Leavy “a visionary” and the Social Fictions series “a watershed moment in the academy.”
In 2015 Dr. Leavy was announced as the youngest recipient of the Special Career Award given by the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. In that same year Dr. Leavy was also honored with the Egon Guba Memorial Lecture Award by the Qualitative Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. In 2016 Mogul, a global women’s empowerment platform, named Dr. Leavy an “Influencer” alongside Chelsea Clinton, musician Melissa Etheridge, fashion editor Nina Garcia, and other notable women.
In 2018 she received the Distinguished Contributions Outside of the Profession Award from the National Art Education Association, the Division D Significant Contribution to Educational Measurement and Methodology Award from the American Educational Research Association, and was honored by the National Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2018 SUNY-New Paltz established “The Patricia Leavy Award for Art and Social Justice.” They presented Dr. Leavy with a plaque honoring her pioneering work and then gave the inaugural award to a student.
In 2022 Dr. Leavy received the Outstanding Arts and Learning Award from the American Educational Research Association.
An advocate of public scholarship, Dr. Leavy has appeared on national news, radio, and has been quoted by the news media hundreds of times (for example, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today). She has blogged for numerous outlets and is routinely interviewed about her work by popular and scholarly media. Dr. Leavy has been the subject of many profiles. She has been called a trailblazer, rebel, renegade, visionary, genius, and pioneer.
In 2022 Dr. Leavy signed on as a columnist for The AutoEthnographer, an open access literary and arts magazine. This same year, the prestigious Napkin Poetry Review wrote a profile about Dr. Leavy’s work. It reads in part: “At the intersection of the arts and sciences lives social fiction, a genre coined and pioneered by Dr. Patricia Leavy… Viewed together, Leavy’s fiction and nonfiction serve to reinforce each other. Art is upheld as more than a pastime: it is a way of knowing. As many of the main characters in her novels are writers, artists, and intellectuals themselves, the world is portrayed through an inherently creative lens, further demonstrating the impact of art on our lives. Leavy is creating a rich philosophy of the arts through her literature. Her philosophy is heard clearly, and the reader isn’t left to parse through dense language to find it. Instead, they’re drawn through beautiful stories they look forward to reading.” Read the full profile here.
Dr. Leavy delivers keynote addresses and invited lectures and workshops at conferences and universities around the world.