Faculty Highlights


Dr. Seeberg's research interests parallel her instruction in multicultural and comparative-international education. Exploring the intersection of capabilities and opportunities associated with education for culturally and multiply excluded peoples forms her core line of inquiry. She is principal investigator of two ongoing, long-term research projects, which involve graduate and undergraduate students:

  • "Black American Students' Academic Engagement and Success: Family Stories"; The study focuses on Shaker Heights, Ohio; The Shaker Heights Research Team is writing up their research and Dr. Seeberg has a book forthcoming on it.
  • "Chinese Girls' Education Study" is a longitudinal study of rural girls at the margins of globalization using a human development/capabilities approach. Finding what educational opportunities are valued by village girls over time can lay the foundation for development policy toward social justice.


Dr. Levinson's work has begun to focus on the challenges of religious pluralism. She has been looking at how religious exclusivists understand the demands of religious pluralism and how they are trying to meet these demands on their own terms, i.e. from within their own theological traditions. Exclusivists are those who regard other religious traditions as wrong or misguided, and thus find it hard to accord them the respect that comes more easily to religious inclusivists. She is particularly interested in the steps that religious intellectuals within these traditions are taking to promote tolerance - and a degree of acceptance of different faith traditions - amongst their fellow believers. And of course, she is interested in how these steps are reflected in the ethos, teacher dispositions and curriculum of school in these traditions. Her sabbatical project explored the ways in which exclusivist evangelical Christians are tackling the challenges of religious pluralism. She presented papers on this research at the annual meeting of the Philosophy of Education Society, the American Educational Studies Association Conference, and to graduate students in the Philosophy and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia. She is fortunate to be working with several PhD students in the Cultural Foundations Program who are writing dissertations on this topic: Henrique Alvim Living Christianly Among 'Strangers': The Educational, Civic and Theological Practice of 'Being the Church' in the Post-Secular American Academy, Lutheran Education in a Religiously Pluralistic Society, and Ruth Joy on Catholic schooling for participation in a democracy.


Dr. Niesz's research focuses on progressive movements in the field of education and how these influence practice and identities in schooling. Currently she is involved in the following projects.

  • The 'Silent Revolution' of the Activity Based Learning Movement in Tamil Nadu, India. Dr. Niesz is developing a historical case study of a state-wide movement to implement a child-centered, constructivist approach to primary schooling. This approach, called Activity Based Learning, has transformed thousands of government schools throughout Tamil Nadu.
  • How has Education Scholarship Addressed Social Movements? In this project, Dr. Niesz is working with Cultural Foundations doctoral students to develop an extensive review of social movement scholarship in the field of education.

Dr. David M. Dees

Dr. Dees' research interests primarily focus on the dimensions of quality teaching/learning in higher education as well as rural/Appalachian students' cultural adjustment to academic environments. He is currently involved with the following projects:

  • Co-PI in a National Science Foundation Grant ($189,235) entitled Bridging the Conceptual Divide Between Theoretical and Applied Environmental Chemistry. This three year project examines the influence of teaching style and method on student learning in Geology.
  • He is the Founder and Co-Director of the Rural Scholars Program at the Salem and East Liverpool campuses. This college-access program is designed to give the Rural Scholars and their families the knowledge, rigorous academic exposure, and social support they will need in order to be successful at a world-class university. Scholars are selected during the seventh grade and are encouraged to participate in the program as both a student and mentor throughout their entire high school and, if appropriate, college career.
  • He currently serves as the Director for the Faculty Professional Development Center.