The field of cultural foundations of education understands education to be a broad and complex undertaking that is best understood through the lenses of a range of disciplines and fields of study.
Our program brings the "foundational" disciplines of philosophy, history, sociology and anthropology together with various established and emergent fields of study (i.e. comparative/international education, multicultural education, globalization studies, religious studies, critical theory, deliberative democracy) to bear on the study of education at all levels, in multiple locations, both 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 both 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.
Graduates of the M.A. program will have the knowledge and skills to critique and interpret educational theories, programs and practices, and to promote innovation in education, whether in the private, public, formal, non-formal or informal setting institutional settings and social contexts. The M.A. program has a thesis component which is tailored to individual research interests.
Graduates of the M.Ed. program will have the knowledge and skills to critique and interpret policy and practice, and to promote innovative practices in educational settings and agencies.
Graduates of the Ph.D. program will have the knowledge, critical understandings and interpretive skills to analyze and assess educational policies, theories and practice, and to lead and promote innovation in education, whether in academia or private, public, formal, nonformal or informal settings social contexts, and agencies.
Recent Master’s and Doctoral graduates have enjoyed success in positions in foundations and think-tanks, non-governmental organizations, public and government agencies, K-12 school systems, and higher education, both nationally and internationally.