International & Transcultural Studies
The Department of International and Transcultural Studies
In recognition of the interconnectedness of all human beings around the globe, Teachers College has a long-standing commitment to the international arena.
New technologies have led to a rapidly increasing flow of people, information, goods, and services within and across national boundaries. As these boundaries become more permeable, modern societies are characterized by greater diversification of people and resources. Such diversification introduces complex forces that can be best understood as transcultural. As individual and institutional identities increasingly reflect diverse cultural traditions and values, a major challenge to education is to promote new ways of understanding and negotiating these identities.
The United States is a powerful example of an international and transcultural society, and the metropolitan area in which Teachers College is located is a particularly vivid expression of such a society. New York City and the United States are, in many ways, harbingers of what the 21st century will bring to cities and countries around the world.
International and transcultural forces will be increasingly present in all societies, and these forces will be crucial in understanding education in every domain of human experience—family, community, school, the workplace. Such education will take place not only in schools, colleges, and universities, but in all societal institutions—families; churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples; libraries, museums, and parks; mass media such as newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and computer networks; and the various kinds of workplaces that are emerging in our technological era.
Our department prepares professionals to provide leadership in the educative configurations emerging in the new century. To do so, we offer a range of disciplinary and professional programs and concentrations with distinct emphases within the collective mission. The programs in Anthropology and Comparative and International Education emphasize research on the social, cultural, economic, and political aspects of global processes. The program in International Educational Development prepares professionals across the whole range of educational practice to gain a global perspective.
Students work with faculty within the department on a variety of topics including AIDS education, civic education, drugs and society, and language and literacy. Students can concentrate within the department in such areas as African education, family and community education, international humanitarian issues, international educational policy studies, language, literacy, technology, and peace education. We work with other departments at the College to provide our students additional concentrations in such areas as adult education, conflict resolution, curriculum and teaching, educational leadership, health education, and policy studies. In addition, we cooperate with the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University to develop regional areas of expertise (e.g., Latin American Studies, African Studies, Eastern European Studies, Middle East Studies, Russian Studies, East Asian Studies, South Asian Studies). Students in Comparative and International Education who select academic disciplines other than anthropology (e.g., economics, sociology, political science, history, or philosophy) also work closely with faculty outside the department. Degrees are offered by programs only, not in concentrations.
For up to date information about course offerings including faculty information, please visit the online course schedule.
This course is designed to serve as an introduction to the concepts, methods, and applications of empirical research in international and comparative education. The course readings, lectures, class discussion, activities, and course assignments will examine fundamental issues and processes of research design and practice from a variety of methodological perspectives —qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods. Students taking this class should also consider registering for HUDM 4120 or HUDM 4122.
The exploration of fundamental anthropological concepts for the analysis of educational, cultural, and social institutions, organizations, and processes of different peoples of the world.
An introduction to the anthropological study of cities and how larger-scale urban relationships affect schooling. Emphasis is placed on understanding urban inequality.
This seminar considers issues and problems of development in sub-Saharan Africa. It examines specific development projects from different theoretical and empirical perspectives.
An exploration of the impact of technology broadly defined upon cultural evolution as currently discussed in anthropology and related disciplines.
What is education for social change? What is popular education? How is it implemented internationally? Using a comparative and international perspective, this course explores theories and practices of popular education, a pedagogical-political approach based on participatory methodologies that are committed to schooling for social justice. In this course, we will examine theoretical debates on popular education. We will also compare historical and contemporary examples of popular education practices (including critical pedagogy), research methods (such as participatory action research), and techniques.
This course explores small- and large-scale research and evaluation methods and their potential for valid, reliable, efficient evaluation of educational outcomes as well as project outcomes. Needs assessment, capacity assessment, project evaluations (mid-term and final), performance appraisals and impact evaluations done for a range of agencies and organizations are analyzed for diverse educational programs (including formal and non-formal education) in low-income country contexts.
Students will be introduced to theories and research explaining why Latinos in the United States are least likely of all major social groups to be enrolled in school and, as adults, are most likely to lack a high school diploma. The course will explore the racial/ethnic differences that exist between and within recent immigrant groups, drawing especially on research that shows the diversity of cultural backgrounds within Latino subgroups. Topics will include assimilation of new immigrants, educational achievement and persistence in school, language and schooling, the interplay of race and gender and class with educational attainment, and transnational communities.
The course explores educational planning and policy analysis in developing countries. A special focus is placed on aid effectiveness, aid modalities, and the aid architecture in countries where educational reforms are sometimes funded by multilateral organizations, development banks, and non-governmental organizations. Critical issues, such as global benchmarking, target setting, and monitoring by the World Bank, OECD, and other international organizations are examined. Students learn about current debates and controversies in international educational development and reflect on the impact of externally funded projects on educational planning and reform in developing countries.
This course serves as an introduction to quantitative analysis as applied to the field of Comparative International Education. The course covers fundamental concepts of quantitative analysis, inferential statistics, and introduces the assumptions and mechanics of the classical normal linear regression model.
This course provides a grounding in the theory, pedagogy, and practice of peace and human rights education. It draws from the international literature of the field as it has been developed over the past three decades, and reviews teaching practices relevant to various cultures and learning settings.
This course examines the methods of the social sciences as they relate to ethnography and participant observation. The course emphasizes the role of theory, characteristics of various research techniques, and the importance of integrated research design. The course provides opportunities to practice ethnographic research techniques, including developing a research question, designing a study, interviewing, conducting observations, and analyzing data. There are no prerequisites.
Permission required. ITSF 5000, 4902, or equivalent required. This course examines methods to anayze ethnographic and, more broadly, qualitative data. Students who enroll are expected to be writing a proposal or to have already completed a significant amount of data collection. The course considers the role of theory in ethnography, different analytical traditions and techniques, and how to write up ethnographic data.
An advanced and critical introduction to major theories of culture, language, and expression as they have proven relevant to the study of education. The focus is on interpersonal processes, the structuring of interaction, the organization of larger groupings (race, gender, etc.), and the personal and institutional consequences of all symbolic processes.
The course is designed to help students to understand foundations and techniques of policy analysis underlying education sector strategies of low-income countries. Part 1 will review critical debates over the role of donors and aid recipients in development contexts and introduce students to tools and techniques for producing education sector strategies. Part 2 will provide an overview of theories of the policy process from an international comparative perspective and therefore also include theories of global education policy, “traveling reforms,” and transnational policy borrowing and lending. Part 3 will discuss trends in various sub-sectors that international agencies tend to frame as “best practices” and for which they provide technical assistance and external financial support.
This seminar examines the field of international education development from the standpoint of feminist and gender studies. We will read and discuss relevant studies in anthropology, economics, history, political science, and sociology, as well as interdisciplinary research in the fields of development studies and gender studies. We will begin by considering the political and legal advances in women’s rights within the daily reality of people’s lives in developing countries through the multiple lenses of democratic theory, neoliberal policies, and multiculturalism.
This course considers the theories and concepts used by anthropologists and other social scientists in the analysis of political behavior and institutions. It analyzes the contemporary theories for the study of power and uses ethnographies of education to examine such ideas.
Introduction to the ethno- graphic investigation of educative institutions (villages, neighborhoods, families, peer groups, schools, etc.) and to the policy issues it addresses.
Permission required. An analysis of the impact of television on the family's educative functions, with special attention to the process by which the family mediates television.
This course examines the politics of armed conflict and peace building and the role of education in promoting peace or exacerbating violence in conflict-affected and post-conflict contexts. We will investigate several of the most pressing challenges facing the various stakeholders (external actors such as international organizations, bilateral donors, and NGOs; local actors, such as governments, civil societies, and nationalist/ideological state factions) and the influence of those stakeholders on education systems in times of war and emerging peace and on educational practices, policies, and curricula in conflict and post-conflict situations.
This course critically examines ESD-related policies and practices within a variety of contexts and perspectives. Beginning with an overview of the foundations of ESD, we will explore key issues in the field: (a) the development of ESD policy in different levels (e.g., supranational, national, and subnational); (b) the links bewteen ESD and other curricular movements (e.g., environmental education, human rights education and peace education); (c) drivers and barriers that shape ESD policy/practice (e.g., environmental NGOs); and, (d) ESD "best practices" and their impact on teaching and learning.
The course provides students with an introduction to international large-scale assessment of student achievement (such as TIMSS, PIRLS, and PISA). The first section of the course is dedicated to the history of international assessments and to conditions that facilitated their emergence and diffusion. The second section is focused on the methodology behind global and regional projects. The third section is focused on critical analysis of the ways in which scholars, media, and policy makers use data from international assessments. Prerequisite: ITSF 4090 (Issues and Institutions in International Educational Development) or ITSF 4091 (Comparative Education) or by permission of instructor.
This course draws upon the sociology of language, sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, and the anthropology of literacy to consider current debates in the field as well as trends in language and literacy in international contexts, specifically in regards to evaluation, teacher training, and curriculum development.
The course is designed to develop students' ability to critically consume and produce research in their specialized field within International and Comparative Education or other programs in the department, college and university. Students will be oriented to the epistemological and other assumptions and methodological practices of quantitative and qualitative methods including experimental, survey research, ethnographic, and historical approaches to disciplined inquiry. Students will be exposed to positivist, interpretive, and critical/feminist traditions or paradigms associated with these approaches as well as ethical dilemmas encountered in planning, conducting, reporting, and consuming research.
This course will explore emerging critical theories on Latin American and Latino Studies to advance new perspectives and knowledge in comparative education. Discussion will be framed within relevant theories, such as Critical Thinking (Pensamiento Crítico), Dependency Theory, Internal Colonialism, Liberation Theory, and Indigenous Ways of Knowing. Among the issues to be discussed are the rights of Indigenous peoples to education and the preservation of cultural and linguistic diversity of people in the developing world in parallel with the struggles of Latinos in the United States to improve their educational opportunity at the high school and postsecondary levels.
Drawing on the anthropology of globalization and sociology of immigration, this course reviews major theories of immigrant incorporation and exclusion processes, examines case studies of im/migrants, refugees, and displaced persons and their adaptation process in countries in the North and South, and considers educational practices and policies that develop to address mobility in diverse contexts.
Over recent decades, discourses of multiculturalism and multilingualism have become standard in the educational initiatives of nation-states, multinational corporations, and nongovernmental organizations. In much of the world, practitioners no longer ask whether they should educate for diversity but rather how they should carry out such efforts within many existing alternatives. This course covers historical moments in which different types of multicultural and multilingual education have arisen; social theories about social inequality, language, and education that help us understand them; and examples of educational initiatives that reinforce or change inequity. Students are encouraged to consider radical possibilities for educational change.
This course examines the relationship between education and demographic change in international educational development. It focuses on historical and cultural changes in the areas of fertility, migration, mortality, and sustainable development.
This seminar examines issues related to teacher policy and explores topics such as teacher education curriculum, work conditions, salaries, promotion, management, gender, qualification of teachers in developed as well as developing countries including fragile states. It is a course with a primarily international comparative orientation, that is, domestic US issues are not directly addressed.
In this seminar, students will be introduced to education and social issues in Latin America and the Caribbean since the consolidation of national systems of public education during the twentieth century. Using theoretical perspectives drawn from development studies, globalization and comparative education, the course will include case studies of individual nations as well as issues embracing the region as a whole. Topics will include social and political dimensions of education, ethnicity and academic achievement, women’s education and social change, teacher preparation, student movements and patterns of migration. Moreover, the effects of projects financed by international organizations will be evaluated in terms of improved access, teacher training and intercultural understanding within the education systems of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Prerequisites: ITSF 4090/6580 or ITSF 4091/6581. This seminar explores the politics of education in international and transcultural contexts. Course topics include educational equity and quality as well as the role of international donors in transplanting particular "best practice" or reform packages from one national context to another.