Keith Barton's work focuses on preparing students for democratic civic participation, particularly through history and other content in social education. His research examines students’ understanding of topics such as historical agency, historical significance, national identity, and human rights, and he has worked with faculty, teachers, and students in the United States, Northern Ireland, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, South Sudan, Macedonia, Sweden, and other countries. In addition to research with students, his work includes curriculum theory and practical classroom applications, especially through portraits of exemplary teachers. As a professor at Indiana University, he prepares candidates to teach history and social studies, as well as guiding doctoral students in the areas of curriculum studies, social studies, and history education. He has also served as a Visiting Professor at the University of Ulster (Northern Ireland), Uppsala University (Sweden), Victoria University (New Zealand), and the National Institute of Education (Singapore), as well as a Fulbright Senior Specialist in New Zealand.
He is currently working on a book, together with Dr. Li-Ching Ho of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, that draws upon Eastern and Western philosophy, as well as contemporary theory and research on learning and cognition, to develop curriculum principles for deliberating issues of justice and harmony.