New Ed.D. Cohort is Shaping Innovation in Global Education
With every passing year, it becomes more difficult for educators to ignore the increasing cultural, demographic, economic, environmental and electronic interconnectedness of our world. Until inter-planetary travel becomes no more complicated than hopping on a Greyhound Bus, we face the stark reality that Earth is the only planet that we do inhabit, and recognize that we are inextricably linked to it and everyone, everything in it. So it is as we welcome in this brand new year.
The word “global” when used in conjunction with education evolved and now means much more than the ability to point to and name a foreign country on a map. Global education of today is asking what skills and knowledge will it take to go from learning about the world, to making a difference in the world?
Making a difference requires an approach that appreciates and cultivates a sense of social responsibility, an understanding and acceptance of human diversity, development of an environmental ethic, recognizing scientific and technological advances as essential tools for intercultural sharing and learning, and an appreciation of the arts and aesthetics.
This past fall, the College of Education began its first Doctor of Education in Educational Practice, (Ed.D.) cohort in Global Education and Leadership. The global theme combined with the learning community model has begun to forge innovative education pathways and rewards for both the doctoral candidates and the faculty team who serve as their mentors.
The learning community model (three-year, cohort based) for doctoral work is part of the College’s restructuring of the Ed.D. degree program to become a truly practice-based credential. Based on the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED), our students are admitted to a learning community of practice, under the mentorship of a faculty team that focuses on an area of educational practice (theme).
Designed to make a difference
The Ed.D. learning community model presents the very challenges that the Global Education theme seeks to address. It brings together a group of diverse students and faculty to work together, respect and learn to appreciate each other’s varied talents and strengths, and to shape learning experiences designed to make a difference in the world.
“When we decided to develop the Global Education Ed.D. area, we identified faculty across the campus who are involved with global initiatives,” said Laura Westhoff, who has a joint appointment in the COE and the College of Arts and Sciences History Department. “But the international work didn’t have many interconnections. Each initiative has been more or less contained in its own silo.”
So the first challenge was bringing together appropriate faculty who have been working internationally to provide a diverse backdrop and resource pool to inform an entirely new model for global education. The Ed.D. Global Education and Leadership faculty advisor/mentor team represents academic disciplines from across the UMSL campus, including history, anthropology, languages, counseling, science education, and literacy.
The faculty team consists of Westhoff who has also been involved in the Student Teaching in China Program; William Kyle, Jr., E. Desmond Lee Family Professor of Science Education, whose work has involved enhancing science and technology skills of youth in high poverty areas in the U.S. and sub-Sahara Africa; Brian Hutchison, associate professor in counseling who also serves as co-chair of the Global Connection Committee for the National Career Development Association; E. Wendy Saul, the Allen B. and Helen S. Shopmaker Endowed Professor of Education who also serves as a board member for Critical Thinking International, Inc.; cultural anthropologist and filmmaker Maris Boyd Gillette, E. Desmond Lee Professor of Museum Studies and Community History ; Deborah Cohen, associate professor and transnational historian with an emphasis on Mexico-US immigration and relations; and Ruth “Suzanne” Hendrickson, who is an internationally recognized associate teaching professor of French at UMSL.
“The approach we have taken veers away from the established field of Global Studies,” said Westhoff. “We came together with a goal to avoid pigeon-holing our program into a Global Studies, international education, or intercultural communication academic degree.” The traditional Global Studies degree is oriented around the study of globalization as it relates to different fields of activity, but it is typically focused on preparing future academic faculty, rather than practitioners.
Our program is based on the premise that there are many kinds of knowledge in all societies and multiple ways to frame cultural, political, social, and economic systems within societies. Rather than viewing global competence as a body of facts and figures, students interrogate the pressing issues facing humanity and how these issues impact their professional settings.
The pressing questions that the cohort is exploring include: What does it look like to bring global justice into global education? What does it mean to be a scholarly practitioner with a global justice lens? How to make this work relevant in schools, higher education, and informal educational and social service institutions?
A diversity of career pathways
Faculty meets regularly with the student cohort to help them formulate and build a unique area of expertise so they can forge new career pathways. “This is demanding work for the faculty team as well as the student cohort and has required many hours of research and meetings to develop frameworks for study, practical applications, and projects,” Westhoff explained.
That work has paid off. “Each of the doctoral candidates’ professional goals reflects just how wide-ranging those careers can be,” Westhoff said. “One of them wants to start new schools in Africa. Another will be managing international student exchanges in higher education and is working with the COE student teaching in China program, eventually expanding those opportunities across the globe. A student from Puerto Rico is is a recruiter for Latino students in higher education. One is interested in ecotourism programs, and yet another one has a background in community probation and parole programs.” One student from China has a background in business, and another has experience as a science teacher.
In this first semester, the cohort has been exploring participatory research and studying the United Nations Millennium Development Goals – (which range from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education). They will work in St. Louis Language Immersion Schools and will be partnering with the International Institute of St. Louis in tutoring and preparing immigrants for U.S. citizenship.
“It’s so rewarding when students say that their studies and work have been truly eye opening,” Westhoff said. “That’s what every educator wants to achieve. But we’re also gaining some recognition from other programs around the country. I’ve had colleagues at national conferences inquire about our approach to this work. The interdisciplinary nature of the community, and the fact that we are focused on praxis–the intersection of practice, research, and theory is unusual. We have an opportunity to better define what the field of “global education” means. That’s exciting, too.”
For more information about the Ed.D. program and the thematic learning communities for 2016, please visit the COE Ed.D. website or call 314-516-5872.