The field of cultural foundations of education understands education to be a broad and complex undertaking that is best understood through a range of disciplines and fields of study.


Our program brings together the "foundational" disciplines of philosophy, history, sociology and anthropology with various established and emergent fields of study (i.e. multicultural education, globalization and religious studies, critical theory, and deliberative democracy) to bear on the study of education at all levels, in multiple locations within and beyond formal schooling. Our students explore education from normative, interpretive and critical perspectives with a view to discerning the transformative potential of education in contexts characterized by unequal access to the political process and educational institutions.


Our faculty specializes in the normative and critical dimensions of education, including the challenges of marginalization and inequality, girls' and women's empowerment in relation to schooling, contemporary school reform, the challenges of education for religious pluralism in public and parochial settings, and place-based education in the rural U.S. We also explore issues of identity formation and transformation in relation to education, with a particular focus on narratives of academic success among African-American students, religious identity formation and transformation in pluralistic contexts, and teacher identity and agency.

While many of our students are drawn to our program because of the particular expertise of faculty, we also attract students with academic foci that do not mirror our faculty expertise, but appreciate the field's ability to cross disciplinary boundaries and our program's ability to wrap around our students' individual interests.


Most of our students are already engaged in satisfying work and plan to use their advanced degree in the Cultural Foundations to open up new opportunities for themselves within their current setting or to move their organizations and institutions in new directions. Others see an advanced degree in the Cultural Foundations as a way of opening up new avenues in their professional lives while contributing also to their communities. In short, our students seek to bring a scholarly orientation to their educational, activist, and entrepreneurial endeavors.