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Education Studies Mission

Education loses its meaning if it is not understood.  (Freire, 1988)

I.  The department curriculum pursues a vision of the critical educator who investigates the highly contested meanings and processes of education.  The critical educator embodies an acceptance of this understanding and the following ideological premises:

  • Education is not synonymous with schooling or ‘training’ and refers to self-discovery, understanding one’s natural and social worlds, and taking informed action.

  • An educator is any individual or group engaging in cognitive and conceptual change.

  • Teaching is an intellectual activity not to be limited to formal instruction in a classroom.

  • A learning community is any space where participants are engaged in conceptual and cognitive change. Pedagogic power is exerted not only in the classroom, but increasingly by social networks, economic and military sectors.

  • Social justice asserts a vision of human dignity, access and wellness, as well as the societal structures upon which this vision depends.

  • Therefore the critical educator operates within three spheres of political and social life, the global, the national and the local.

In the effort to develop the critical educator, the curriculum will provide opportunities to investigate the perspectives that emerge from applying different analytic frameworks (lenses) to the classroom, to the construction of knowledge, to alternative learning spaces and to education policies.

II. The department pursues the vision of the transformative intellectual who is aware of personal agency and power to transform communities, guided by intellectual curiosity and whose response to the knowledge base is mediated by reflection, critical thinking and inquiry.  This means that the transformative intellectual draws from a set of interdisciplinary experiences such as those provided by a liberal arts institution to explore how schools and school curricula have historically re-produced, legitimated and regulated epistemological and moral practice.

Such an individual is familiar with the historical, political and socio-cultural contexts of educational policies as well as the consequences of these policies within the structures, routines and practices of classrooms, including the teaching role. The student is aware of alternative sites of instruction that serve to regulate information, thinking and behavior (public pedagogies).The relationships between the educative process and society should become a recurring trope within the curriculum.

In the effort to develop the transformative intellectual the curriculum should

  • Provide learning experiences through which students develop this awareness as well as an ability to interrogate, problem-solve, and re-imagine the social condition for the common good. 

  • Reflect a coherent literature base that utilizes primary sources to provide students with the knowledge referents needed to competently address educational issues and challenges.

  • Clearly identify the canonical sources for arguments/policies/practices being discussed or critiqued.

  • Develop an awareness of the logic and the process used to develop or deconstruct education policy and law.

  • Develop an awareness of the policy environment or the contextual  bases of policy development and limitations of these contexts.

III. The department pursues the vision of the public pedagogue, defined as an intellectual who demonstrates skill competence, communication and interpersonal skills, knowledge and understanding of human development and human diversity, and the ability to engage broad contradictory world views. The department continues to assert importance of experiential learning to develop specific skill competencies in students.  These competencies are effective written, spoken and technological communication; reflective, intentional and meaningful action, the ability to engage the contradictions implicit in multiple perspectives and audiences, and a commitment to diversity in community.

Field experiences, traditionally imagined as classroom experiences exclusively, are now seen to include any space where participants are engaged in conceptual and cognitive change. To this end in which the department has identified apprenticeships, mentorships, internships, service learning and intentional travel opportunities, selected to reflect the curricular mission (some of which are institution–based).

In the effort to develop the public pedagogue, the experiential curriculum will afford students the opportunity to learn through observation, participation, immersion and research, based on an expanded construction of ‘the field.’ The curriculum therefore

  • Provides opportunities to experience and/or work in different learning communities.

  • Provides opportunities to experience the impact of education policy on life-experiences.

  • Provides opportunities to teach and learn in alternative learning spaces.

  • Provides opportunities to re-imagine the educative process.

  • Seeks to develop a sensitivity to the moral and ethical aspects of experience.