This award of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) is conferred on an outstanding Ph.D. or Ed.D. dissertation that manifests academic excellence; originality; methodological, theoretical, and empirical rigor; and that deals with issues of social justice and equity in international settings. These issues may include—but are not limited to—gender, race, class, ethnicity, and nationality.
The committee wrote the following assessment of Dr. Willemsen’s dissertation:
“This is a solid piece of academic work engaging with ethnographic realities which clearly paints a scenario of gender disparity and the fundamental role that education should play in ameliorating the current status quo. It examines the role schooling has played in empowering young women from vulnerability toward increasing security and well-being. The study illustrates how school needs to include an element of care to be successful, particularly in marginalized women’s lives, underscoring how quality education moves beyond what can be measured through traditional indicators such as academic performance. Through her study, Willemsen critically engages with prominent discourses in the field of comparative and international education, for example the role of education in empowering of marginalized groups (here young women in a low-income country), yet also underscoring how the school is not necessarily the decisive factor in this empowerment, how additional forces, such as family, community and religion can play more prominent roles than education. Additionally, she put forward a critical perspective on the content of schooling, promoting a more holistic notion of education for the institution to at all be able to function as a factor for empowerment of marginalized groups. In this dissertation, the notion of empowerment as understood by researchers and development experts, and the role of education within it, is challenged through this dissertation and the young women populating it. The role of social justice is a cross-cutting issue in the dissertation by Willemsen. She also engages with central CIES discourses in a critical manner, something rather bold in a Ph.D. dissertation and in such a way contributing to academic excellence and originality.”
Joan DeJaeghere, associate professor in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (OLPD) and co-principal investigator of the Research for Improving Education Systems in Vietnam (RISE), conducted interviews with national policymakers in January. The research will be analyzed to understand the political-economic changes that affected Vietnamese educational successes and challenges. One of the unique features the research aims to understand is how policies were implemented throughout the country and at local levels during a process of decentralization and “democratization” that allowed for a large expansion of educational participation and learning, while also maintaining a strong socialist ethos and commitment to equality.
Frances Vavrus, professor in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (OLPD), and colleague Lesley Bartlett (University of Wisconsin-Madison) have recently published the book Rethinking Case Study Research: A Comparative Approach with relevance across the fields of education and human development. The book is designed as a textbook for graduate students and other researchers seeking a more holistic approach to case study research, especially research with a focus on policy, and it has exercises in every chapter that guide readers through the research process.
The book is available at www.routledge.com (use the following promo code for a 20% discount: IRK69) or at www.amazon.com. Professor Vavrus will also be available in the fall term to speak in classes that might want to use the book.
“But taking a look at Trump’s proposals against a long history of racial and religious surveillance provides a larger, and even more disturbing landscape. Because, for one, it is shocking to find that this kind of program is nothing new. And, second, programs like the ones he’s suggesting have provided no discernible benefit for the shame of betraying the rights of our neighbors.”
The U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs recently awarded associate professors Robin Codding and Amanda Sullivan with a$1,192,606 leadership development grant (over five years from 2016-2021). The project, Leaders Enhancing Evidence-based Practices (Project LEEP), funds fellowships designed to prepare future faculty in school psychology with expertise in applying and sustaining evidence-based practices to schools. Five students in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program were awarded LEEP fellowships: Jordan Thayer, Alaa Houri, Aria Fiat, Kourtney McNallan, and Madeline Larson.
Project LEEP fellows are trained in: data-based decision making; development and evaluation of evidence-based practices; prevention and intervention using evidence-based practices, and consultation and translation of interventions; as well as leadership competencies in instruction and mentoring in higher education, and research and dissemination. Students receiving the award must complete a variety of experiences—coursework in research methods and statistics, research related to multi tier systems of support (MTSS), and apprenticeships with faculty with related research interests.
In addition, fellows attend monthly pro-seminars that provide professional development opportunities for pursuing a career as a faculty member. Past pro-seminar topics have included: finding your “fit” in a faculty position based on professional values and goals; types of faculty positions available in the field of school psychology; and what is tenure and how to successfully achieve it. Future Project LEEP pro-seminars will help fellows identify their professional goals and structure training plans to meet the benchmarks needed to obtain a faculty position upon graduation.
Frances Vavrus, professor in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (OLPD), was an invited speaker in the Faculty of Education and Social Work Dean’s Lecture Series, which is part of the University of Sydney Ideas program. The lecture, entitled When ‘What Works’ Doesn’t: Comparative Pedagogies and Epistemological Diversity in Education, was presented on Wednesday, November 16th. Professor Vavrus was a Visiting Researcher at the University of Sydney for the month of November.
“When teaching about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), U.S. teachers are often confronted with a dearth of accurate and nuanced material about the history, politics and people of the region. This crisis of critical awareness mainly materializes through two recurring narratives that circulate in mainstream media, political discourse and popular culture: “Islam as anti-Western” and conflict fueled by “ancient hatreds.”
Opportunity gaps among children in our society are growing, and part of the problem is how we assess and educate them. Michael Rodriguez, Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development, co-director of the Educational Equity Resource Center, and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s quantitative methods in education program, is being featured in this year’s Driven to Discover campaign for his work to close these gaps by helping schools understand how to work with diverse students, families, and communities. View the campaign.
Dr. Khalifa offers a critical historical analysis of the religious oppression of Muslim peoples. He surfaces how, with a greater understanding of historical oppression and religious persecution of Islam, educators can better understand and disrupt school practices that create unsafe learning environments for Muslim students. Further, Dr. Khalifa discusses how educators can use this information to reflect upon their own assumptions and biases about religious stereotyping and discrimination.
Dr. Demerath led a session for advisors on the internationalization of teacher education and a workshop for students on qualitative data analysis. Dr. Vavrus’ session for advisors addressed academic writing and identity formation, and her workshop for students dealt with the intersection of epistemology, methodology, and methods in the design of a dissertation.
“Political, demographic, and economic influences have fundamentally changed the state-university relationship since the “golden age” of higher education in the 1960s: a large segment of the public today views higher education primarily as a private good instead of a public good, and competing state priorities such as health care and corrections crowd out financial support for higher education.”