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2015-2016 Events

September 16, 2015
The Global Peace Index 2015
Michelle Breslauer, Institute for Economics and Peace

Michelle Breslauer manages programs of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) in the Americas, working with diverse stakeholders to build IEP’s profile and partnerships. In this role, she produces events, report releases, and partnerships for a range of IEP research, including the Global Peace Index and Global Terrorism Index. Ms. Breslauer also leads the development, program planning, and partnerships of the Mexico Peace Index. She works closely with UN agencies, contributing to consultations and global discussions on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Ms. Breslauer speaks frequently on peace, violence, and development at public events and has presented at leading universities, think tanks, and multi-lateral organizations, including American University, the Wilson Center, the World Bank and the United Nations. Ms. Breslauer has significant experience managing complex communication strategies on an international scale, including a 5-year tenure at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center, where she was responsible for developing and executing public affairs programs from the $700 million capital project. Prior to her work with IEP, Ms. Breslauer worked with New York City’s 2012 Olympic Bid, coordinating international relations as well as a local campaign to engage nationality group leaders in NYC. Ms. Breslauer holds a master’s degree in Urban Studies from The London School of Economics, where she researched the impact of social capital, and a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the American University of Paris.

October 20, 2015
The Global Educational Discourse: What is the Focus and How Does it Vary?
Alex Wiseman, Lehigh University

Education is seemingly the solution to all problems, but is this just a fad? Evidence shows that modern societies engage in rational processes to improve individuals and society, a process known as “scientization.” In order to understand why mass education becomes the de facto solution to so many non-education problems, this talk addresses mass education’s impact on and transformation through the phenomenon of scientization. First, the scientized educational discourse at the global level is analyzed through discourse analysis of multinational organizations’ policy documents and reports. Second, scientization of education in national policy documents is investigated using three national cases (Australia, Germany, and the USA). Findings suggest that a globally-scientized discourse about education exists, but that national variation reflects significantly-scientized-yet-contextually-rooted differences.

About the Speaker

Dr. Alexander W. Wiseman has more than 19 years of professional experience working with government education departments, university-based teacher education programs, community-based professional development for teachers and as a classroom teacher in both the U.S. and East Asia. Dr. Wiseman leads strategic planning workshops, informs educational policy development, provides evidence-based training programs, speaks internationally and presents extensively in the areas of international testing, teacher preparation and professional development, strategic planning, system assessment and reform, education policy, change management, equitable educational access for girls and boys, institutional capacity building, school-to-work transition and civic education. Dr. Wiseman conducts internationally comparative educational research using large-scale education datasets on math and science education, information and communication technology (ICT), teacher preparation, professional development and curriculum as well as school principal’s instructional leadership activity, and is the author of many research-to-practice articles and books. He is also the Series Editor of International Perspectives on Education and Society, Editor of the Annual Review of Comparative and International Education, and the Senior Editor of FIRE: Forum for International Research in Education.

November 17, 2015
Rethinking Japanese and Korean Education
Hyunjoon Park, University of Pennsylvania

Japanese and South Korean students’ extraordinary performance in various international assessments of student achievement has attracted attention of educators and policymakers from other parts of the world. At the same time, however, both educational systems have long been criticized for their lack of flexibility and heavy focus on testing at the expense of creativity and problem solving skills. Based on empirical findings drawn from international achievement data of middle school and high school students such as PISA and TIMSS, in this talk Park challenges some stereotypes on Japanese and Korean education and highlights more complicated features of the two educational systems. By focusing on the distribution, not the average, of student performance, Park demonstrates how Japanese and Korean educational systems are distinctive from German and US educational systems, particularly in the bottom of the distribution. Park also reveals a more complicated story of creativity and problem solving skills that Japanese and Korean students are assumed to lack.

About the Speaker

Dr. Hyunjoon Park is Korea Foundation Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. Park is interested in educational stratification and family in cross-national comparative perspective, focusing on East Asia, particularly Korea and Japan. He has investigated how school and family effects on children’s education are contingent upon institutional arrangements of educational systems, public policy, and demographic changes. Park has published more than 50 journal articles and book chapters.  He published a single authored book, Re-Evaluating Education in Japan and Korea: De-mystifying Stereotypes (Routledge 2013), and an edited volume (with Kyung-Keun Kim), Korean Education in Changing Economic and Demographic Contexts (Springer 2014).

December 15, 2015
Doing the ‘Work of Hearing’: Girls’ Voices in Transnational Educational Development Campaigns
Shenila Khoja-Moolji, Teacher's College, Columbia University

In this talk, Shenila Khoja-Moolji reflects on the recent prominence of campaigns about girls’ education within the field of international educational development and attends to the forms of knowledge that are produced in and through them about black and brown girls generally, and Muslim girls specifically. In doing so, she de-links girls’ education from its moral register and sees it instead as an analytical category with complex social and political functions. Making campaigns such as the White House’s Let Girls Learn, Plan International’s Because I am a Girl, and Gordon Brown’s I am Malala the object of her inquiry, Khoja-Moolji argues that discourses about girls’ education are not simply about that. In fact, they are entangled with discourses about brown/black men, religious belongings, and ideals of neoliberal citizenship. 

About the Speaker

Shenila Khoja-Moolji is a research fellow and doctoral candidate at Columbia University’s Teacher's College. Her research interests include Muslim masculinities and femininities, immigrant youth, and discourses of girls’ education. Prior to Columbia University, Khoja-Moolji attended the Divinity School at Harvard University, where she graduated with a Masters of Theological Studies focusing on Islamic studies and gender. Khoja-Moolji’s work has appeared in Gender and Education, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies, and Feminist Teacher, as well as in the form of several book chapters. She has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses on gender, Muslim cultures, immigrant education, and social foundations of education.

January 19, 2016
Expanding Notions of Blackness, Tools for a Better Pedagogy
Evelyn Laurent-Perrault, Bryn Mawr College

It is estimated that 20 to 30 million Africans forcedly migrated to the Americas.  About six percent of this number made it to what is today the United States.  About ninety four percent of Africans ended up in the Caribbean, Central, and South America, where they were likewise subjected to urban and rural plantation slavery.  Their presence significantly shaped the cultural and social practices in these regions, as well as their genetic diversity.  Learning their experiences can only broaden our understanding of the impact and the lingering consequences of slavery in the Americas and the world.  Furthermore, migratory trends have been bringing people from Africa and of African descent to the major urban centers of the US, for more than a century.  The cultural make up of inner city schools are changing fast.  Research has shown that teachers subconsciously contribute to the achievement gap. Teaching diverse classrooms with children from Africa, of African descent, and/or Latino backgrounds, requires that teachers are multiculturally aware of their histories.  This talk aims to provide a succinct intro to the history of the African Diaspora in Latin America and the Caribbean and ways in which it can enrich diverse classrooms.

About the Speaker

Dr. Evelyn Laurent-Perrault was born and raised in Venezuela with Haitian and Venezuelan parents, has lived and traveled throughout Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
She completed her Ph.D. in history at New York University, and has been awarded several scholarships and fellowships, including the Ford Dissertation Writing and a Margaret Brown Fellowship, for her research.  Her dissertation titled “Black Honor, Intellectual Marronage, and the Law in Venezuela, 1760-1809,” explores Afro-descendants’ intellectual contributions to the political debates, during the dawn of the Age of Revolutions. She also has a Licenciatura degree in Biology, from the Universidad Central de Venezuela. Dr. Laurent-Perrault has been awarded several. She is founder of the Annual Arturo Schomburg Symposium that takes place at Taller Puertorriqueño, in Philadelphia, and she is the co-founder of ENCUENTRO, an initiative that seeks to promote a global Afro-Diasporic dialogue. Dr. Laurent-Perrault serves on the board of ASWAD, the Association of the World Wide Studies of the African Diaspora.

February 16, 2016
Schools without Stones: Education for Conflict or for Peace in Afghanistan
Dana Burde, Steinhardt, New York University

This talk, based on Professor Burde's book Schools for Conflict or for Peace in Afghanistan, discusses the ways that international aid to education contributes to conflict or peace. Popular interest in education to mitigate conflict resonates with the belief that uneducated masses contribute to instability, and moreover, that outside aid to education can stabilize countries and enhance statebuilding efforts. Yet empirical research on the relationship between education and conflict is limited. Burde provides a systematic analysis of this relationship. Although aid to education can promote peace, Burde shows how US aid to education in Afghanistan has been used to support conflict both deliberately in the 1980s with violence-infused, anti-Soviet curricula, and inadvertently in the 2000s with misguided stabilization programs. In addition, dominant humanitarian models have severely limited the attention and resources devoted to education, in some cases leading to poorly planned programs that undermine their goals. For education to promote peace in Afghanistan, Burde argues that it works by expanding equal access to good quality community-based education, not by simply building more schools. Alongside historical analysis and interviews, Burde uses qualitative and quantitative data from a first-of-its-kind, large-scale, randomized controlled trial of an education intervention in a country affected by conflict. Her findings show that community-based schools eliminate disparity in educational access between boys and girls in Afghanistan and narrow the achievement gap significantly. She constructs a broad analysis of the politics of education in Afghanistan to show how community-based education can work to reduce the underlying conditions for conflict and build peace across the country.

About the Speaker

Dr. Dana Burde is an Associate Professor and Director of International Education at New York University, and affiliated faculty member at NYU Abu Dhabi, NYU Wagner School of Public Service, and the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal on Education in Emergencies. Her research focuses on the effects of conflict on education, the efforts of humanitarian organizations to mitigate these effects, and the relationship between education and political violence or peace. She is particularly interested in research that can be used to inform policy and that has the potential to help state and non-state actors create social change. She is currently working on three projects: assessing the learning outcomes and sustainability of community-based schools in Afghanistan as they transition from NGOs to government administration; understanding how youth aspirations and education affect youth participation in public life in Pakistan and Kenya; and learning how boosting community engagement affects girls’ and boys’ performance in community-based schools in remote Afghan villages.  She uses diverse research methods including qualitative case studies and complex field experiments (also known as randomized controlled trials) that rely on both large-scale surveys and in-depth, qualitative interviews. Her book, Schools for Conflict or for Peace in Afghanistan, was published by Columbia University Press in October 2014 and recently won the Jackie Kirk Outstanding Book Award.  Her research has also been published in Comparative Education Review, International Journal of Educational Development, American Economic Journal—Applied, Current Issues in Comparative Education, and the New York Times. Bloggers for the World Bank and The National Interest have featured her work and it also appears on the Jameel-Poverty Action Lab website. Her research has been funded by the Spencer Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Weikart Family Foundation, the Danish International Aid Agency, and the US Agency for International Development. Burde’s experiences as an aid worker and international education consultant include work in Latin America, Africa, and Central and South Asia. She received her PhD in Comparative Education and Political Science from Columbia University; EdM from Harvard University; and BA in English from Oberlin College.

March 15, 2016
Charter school dynamics in Colombia: Findings on the operationalization of accountability and Competition
Brent Edwards, Drexel University

Charter schools are among the most prevalent public-private partnerships in the education sector. Too frequently, charter schools are assessed only by measuring outputs such as enrollment and test scores. This paper assesses the logic model behind charter schools, specifically the mechanisms of accountability and competition. This paper examines these mechanisms through study of the Concession Schools (Colegios en Concesión) in Bogotá, Colombia using a realist evaluation methodology. The findings show that both accountability and competition do not work as conceived by charter school proponents. Moreover, this paper demonstrates that successfully operationalizing the charter model represented by the CEC program requires that the mechanisms underlying each segment in the model are carefully designed, that they directly connect, and that the functioning (or not) of one does not adversely impact the others—a difficult task given the dynamic and sensitive nature of many of the mechanisms. More specifically, both a lack of competition in the bidding process and poorly designed contracts affect the ability of the government to hold schools accountable; similarly, insufficient choice for parents—or, parental choice on an insufficient scale—affects the development of competitive dynamics among schools.

About the Speaker

Dr. D. Brent Edwards, Jr. is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor of Educational Administration and International Education at Drexel University. His work focuses on the political economy of education reform and global education policies, with a focus on low-income countries. Previously, he has worked with the University of Tokyo; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Amsterdam; the Autonomous University of Barcelona; the George Washington University; the Universidad Centroamericana; and the World Bank. In addition to his work appearing in such journals as Comparative Education Review, Comparative Education, Journal of Education Policy, Prospects, and Education Policy Analysis Archives, among others, he has two forthcoming books, titled: International Education Policy and the Global Reform Agenda: Education with Community Participation in El Salvador and The Political Economy of Schooling in Cambodia: Issues of Equity and Quality (both with Palgrave MacMillan).​

April 19, 2016
Transformation for Inclusive Practices: Developing a sustainable model for vulnerable children in post-conflict Uganda
Susan O’Rourke, Carlow University

In many regions of the world where resources are scarce, children live in situations of extreme vulnerability and are exposed to challenges in meeting their basic needs. For three years, multidisciplinary teams of researchers engaged in initiatives designed to transform communities and schools to improve the lives of vulnerable children in Uganda. Dr. Susan O’Rourke was part of this project and will present the team’s work; describe the role that local teachers, parents and community leaders played; and offer a new theory of change framework for understanding systemic change in other country contexts.

About the Speaker

Dr. Susan O’Rourke is a professor of education and Program Director for Special Education at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA. She earned her doctorate in Instructional Design and Technology, and a master’s degree in Special Education, from the University of Pittsburgh. She was a teacher for 10 years, working with children with multiple disabilities at The Rehabilitation Institute of Pittsburgh (now the Children’s Institute) prior to joining Carlow in 1997. Dr. O’Rourke’s interests include international special education focusing on vulnerable children in developing countries, the integration of technology in classroom settings, distance education, and assisted technologies for student engagement. She specializes in the teaching and learning of children with autism spectrum disorders and children with social, emotional and behavioral disabilities. Dr. O’Rourke is Past President of the Division of International Special Education and Services (DISES) and a founding member of the Division of Performing and Visual Arts Education (DARTS), both divisions within the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). She has collaborated with special education professionals in Cuba, Peru, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Latvia, Kuwait, Trinidad and Tobago, Israel, Portugal, Uganda and Liberia.

May 17, 2016
Altruism for a life of service: Integrating U.N. sustainable development goals into curriculum
Michael Haslip, Drexel University

A conceptual framework for integrating the UN sustainable development goals into academic curricula through project-based pedagogy is presented. Special attention is given to the development of altruism because as altruistic capabilities develop, commitment to development challenges can likewise be strengthened. The development of altruism in young children is presented through the Heart, Head, Hand method and curriculum examples. Moral principles underpinning an altruistic life of service are considered. This framework is guiding curriculum development for a new children’s digital learning platform at Progress to date on the RainbowMe project will be shared.

About the Speaker

Michael Haslip, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of early childhood education at Drexel University. His work focuses on improving young children’s social and emotional learning through teacher preparation and prosocial classroom interventions. He has also investigated the effect of attending public preschool on children’s later literacy outcomes. Previously, he worked as a school teacher across the early childhood continuum, infancy – age 8. Dr. Haslip has a background in international development, having participated in service-related education projects in Jamaica, Uganda, El Salvador, Malaysia and the United States. He is interested in how the next generation of children can be empowered to promote global sustainable development.

June 7, 2016
High Stakes Schooling: Asian Experiences with Testing, Accountability & Education Reform
Christopher Bjork, Vassar College

In this presentation, Dr. Christopher Bjork will describe and analyze the factors that led Japan and Indonesia to de-emphasize testing.  Focusing on a set of reforms collectively known as relaxed education (yutori kyoki), he will scrutinize recent efforts by the Ministry of Education to alter curriculum, instruction, and contexts for learning.  Drawing from his experiences in Japanese schools, he will explore a variety of questions related to testing and reform: Does testing overburden students? Can a system anchored by examinations be reshaped to nurture creativity and curiosity? What role do teachers play in implementing reforms? He will address these questions with careful attention to the actual effects of reform initiatives introduced in Japan, Indonesia and other Asian settings, and draw parallels to issues that schools in the US currently face.

About the Speaker

Dr. Christopher Bjork is professor and the Dexter M. Ferry Chair of Education at Vassar College.  He is the author of Indonesian Education and editor or co-editor of many other books, including Education and Training in Japan, Educational Decentralization, Taking Teaching Seriously, and Japanese Education in an Era of Globalization.