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Global Learning Alliance Conference
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Global Learning Alliance Conference

About SEI Studies in Educational Innovation

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About SEI Studies in Educational Innovation

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Bringing Global Perspectives and Practices of Educational Excellence to All

Studies in Educational Innovation (SEI) brings educators, researchers and university scholars together to push the boundaries of what is possible in classrooms when global perspectives and practices are examined, refined and applied within a global capacities framework. We provide teachers and school leaders with global perspectives on educational innovation and excellence based on field research around the world; access to worldwide school and university, theory/practice partnerships tied to 21st century education, and; research-based, transformational approaches to 21st century curriculum, instruction and assessments.

Studies in Educational Innovation (SEI) is dedicated to examining the factors that contribute to educational excellence in schools in the United States and around the world. SEI leverages global research and practitioner expertise to work in partnership with school systems to document and share exemplary practices in education. SEI specializes in research, design and application, focused on creativity, twenty-first century curriculum, instruction and assessment that demonstrate higher levels of innovation in teaching and learning.  In 2011, SEI successfully launched the international Creativity, Play, and the Imagination Conference at Teachers College. SEI co-founded the Global Learning Alliance (GLA), which is committed to improving understanding what constitutes a high international standard of learning and of how to enable the largest number of students to learn at that high level. SEI’s publications and presentations at conferences, notably the AERA, have legitimized and authenticated the importance of this work and provided channels through which this work can be shared and can grow.

Members of Studies in Educational Innovation

Dr. Ruth Vinz

Advisor, SEI Chair, Department of Arts and Humanities at Teachers College
Enid and Lester Morse Endowed Chair and Professor of English Education
Teachers College, Columbia University, New York

Ruth Vinz taught middle and high school students for twenty-three years before coming to Teachers College. She is a Professor in the English Education Program and the Enid and Lester Morse Endowed Chair in Teacher Education. She directs the Center for the Professional Education of Teachers. Ruth is the co-author of several books, Inside Out, Recasting the Text, Learning the Landscapes and Writing Qualitative Research. Her book, Composing A Teaching Life, received the Richard Meade award for outstanding research published in English education in 1997. She is co-author of the Houghton Mifflin Daybooks, a new 6-12 grade series of reading and writing literature books used in thousands of secondary classrooms, both nationally and internationally. In the most recent book, Becoming (Other)Wise, Dr. Vinz collaborated with other Program faculty in an examination of multicultural literature education and cultural criticism as literacy events. Her research interests include cultural literacies, particularly focused on adolescent readers' practices, constructed and constructing identities of teachers, and traditions and representations of research-in-practice. Her publications include "Cautions Against Canonizing (An)Other Literature" in C. McCarthy, Social Epistemology and Multicultural Education. (2000); "Learning The Blues: Beyond Essentialist Readings of Cultural Texts" in C. McCarthy. Sound Identities; Narration As Inquiry.; "Horrorscapes: (In)Forming Adolescent Identity and Desire" in Journal of Curriculum Theorizing. 12(4); and "Opening Moves: Conversations on the First Year of Teaching" in English Education. 27(3). Dr. Vinz was recently appointed Chair of the Department of Arts and Humanities at Teachers College. She also is founder of and senior advisor to The Center for the Professional Education of Teachers (CPET) which houses the Strategic Literacy Institute (SLI), the Student Press Initiative (SPI), and Studies in Educational Innovation (SEI). Dr. Vinz received her B.S. in Secondary Education at Montana State University; her M.A. in Secondary Education at Boise State University; and her Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning: English Education at New York University.

Dr. Sheridan Blau

Advisor, SEI
Distinguished Senior Lecturer, English Education
Teachers College, Columbia University, New York

Sheridan Blau, Ph.D., is the Distinguished Senior Lecturer in English Education and Coordinator of the TC Program in the Teaching of English. Before coming to Teachers College in 2008, he was Professor of English and Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), where for over three decades he served as Director of the South Coast Writing Project and the Literature Institute for Teachers. He also served for many years as the director of the UCSB Composition Program and program head of the teacher-education program in English. He has been honored with awards by his university and by national professional associations for his teaching, for his research, and for his contributions to the profession of English. He has also served as a member of the Assessment Development Panel for National Certification in English for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, as a Senior Advisor to the California Test Development Committee for statewide assessments in reading and writing, and as a member of the English Academic Advisory Committee to the College Board. He also directs the National Literature Project Network and served for twenty years as a member of the National Writing Project Advisory Board and Task Force. He is a former President of the National Council of Teachers of English, serving as a member of the presidential team from 1995-2000. Dr. Blau has published widely in the areas of seventeenth century literature, composition theory, professional development for teachers, and the teaching of composition and literature. He has also written and edited textbooks in composition and literature for students in middle school, high school, and college classrooms. His most recent book for teachers and scholars, The Literature Workshop: Teaching Texts and Their Readers (Heinemann, 2003), was named by the Conference on English Education as the winner of the 2004 Richard Meade Award for outstanding research in English education.

Dr. Suzanne Choo

Co-Founder and Director, SEI
National Institute of Education, Singapore

Suzanne Choo completed her PhD in English Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is currently teaching at the National Institute of Education in Singapore. Previously, she taught English Language, English Literature and drama in a Singapore high school for six years. During this time, she was head of Instructional Technology and coordinator for the Literature department. She also worked with the Ministry of Education on the Literature Syllabus Review committee as well as on the introduction of Media Studies as a national curriculum in Singapore schools. She was awarded the Hewlett-Packard Innovation in IT award in 2001 as well as the Ministry of Education Outstanding Contribution Award in 2001, 2002 and 2005. From 2006, she worked as a lecturer at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore where she taught pre-service teachers on the teaching of English Literature for three years. Her interests are in multimodality, literature education, global and cosmopolitan citizenship and she has worked as a consultant to various schools and organizations in New York City such as One-to-World and Generation Schools. In 2008, she was awarded the Overseas Graduate Scholarship from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and was a recipient of the Education Pioneers Fellowship, New York in 2009. Her research has been published in various peer-reviewed journals such as English Journal, the Journal of Teaching & Learning, the High School Journal, the International Journal of the Humanities and the Journal of Curriculum Studies. She co-wrote the book "Reel World Learning: Integrating Media in the English Classroom" in 2007. In 2011, she was honored the International Award for Excellence for her paper "Cultivating moral sensibilities through aesthetic education" which was selected as the best paper in the International Journal of the Humanities. During this same year, she was also awarded the Walter Sindlinger Writing Award from Teachers College, Columbia University based on an exceptional research paper selected by a review committee nominated by the Office of the Provost. Her website is

Dr. Deb Sawch

Co-Founder and Director, SEI
EdD, English Education, Arts & Humanities
Teachers College, Columbia University, New York

Deb Sawch is Co-Founder/Director for Studies in Educational Innovation (SEI), a branch of the Center for the Professional Education of Teachers (CPET) in the Department of Arts and Humanities at Teachers College where she is engaged both in field research around the world on 21st Century teaching and learning and in applying this learning to professional development with school leaders and educators around curriculum, instruction and assessment.  She earned her Ed.D at TC. A former high school English teacher in Westport, CT, Deb received her MA and EdM degrees in English Education at Teachers College.

Prior to her career in education, Deb was a marketing executive, most recently the Director of Strategic Alliances at Kraft Foods where she was selected as Marketer of the Year by both Promotion Magazine and Kidscreen Magazine and one of the top ten people to watch in marketing by Brandweek Magazine. She received her BA magna cum laude from the University of Connecticut, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Deb is also Chair of the Advisory Board of Teach for America-Connecticut.

Dr. Alison Villanueva

Co-Founder and Director, SEI
Teachers College, Columbia University, New York

Alison Villanueva is currently Co-Founder and Director of Studies in Educational Innovation in the department of Arts and Humanities at Teachers College, Columbia University. She teaches a research methods course in the department of A&H that focuses on research in a global context that draws from the many data sets she has procured from SEI's research around the world. She has been an instructor in the department of Curriculum and Teaching where she taught Masters courses focused on inclusive and democratic pedagogy and pre-service teacher education. She also taught Literacy courses at the City University of New York's, City College. Previous to her time in New York City, she was a teacher in the Peel District School Board, in Mississauga, Canada, a suburb in the Greater Toronto Area.

Dr. Villanueva is originally from Toronto, Canada and specializes in global research and system-wide transformative change through professional development. Her research interests include: digital/mulitiliteracies, inclusive/diversity education, teacher learning, systemic change, and (W)orld Literature. She is also co-founder of the Global Learning Alliance (GLA).
Dr. Villanueva has presented at numerous conferences that include, the American Educational Research Association, Conference of The Comparative & International, and Education, and the Literacy Research Association. She currently has two publications in press titled Academic Innovation and Measurement: 21st Century Teaching and Learning Models, and Education for 21st Century Global Capacities: an International Perspective at Springer Publishers. Dr. Villanueva earned her Honors. B.A. in English Literature from York University; M.A. in Teaching and Learning: Literacy Education from New York University; M.Phil from Columbia University; and a Ph.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University.