Featured Work Around the World

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Office of International Affairs

Featured Work Around the World

Faculty

Catherine Crowley, J.D., Ph.D., is a Professor of Practice in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Program, Director of the Bilingual SLP Extension Institute, Coordinator of the Bilingual/Multicultural Program Focus, and Director of the Ghana and Bolivia programs at Teachers College. Since 2006, Dr. Crowley has led 23 service trips to Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Peru, and the Philippines, where she and the students of Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) at Teachers College provide free services to people with communication disorders. As evidenced by her passion for service-oriented fieldwork learning as well as her students’ enthusiastic participation, she takes the title—Professor of Practice—especially to heart.

Dr. Crowley’s work with Teachers College began in 1998. Thanks to her unwavering dedication, her work with the SLP graduate students is known both nationally and internationally for its multicultural and bilingual focus in both clinical and research settings. Not only that, the work is an opportunity for students to acquire practical, high quality clinical skills and cultural competencies. Using her expertise in disability evaluations, Dr. Crowley addresses the disproportionate number of U.S. students referred to special education due to a lack of understanding of dialectical differences. Dr. Crowley believes that the key to these culturally responsive evaluations—and ultimately treatment and progress—is an evaluator’s ability to distinguish between the gaps in communication and disability. Her students acquire these skills as they provide services and work with families, teachers, and medical professionals on these international trips.

Now, more than half of the students in the master’s program—over 30 students a year—participate in Dr. Crowley’s service trips, many of which take place in international communities in dire need of fundamental services. Take Ghana for example: with a population of 26 million people, Ghana is home to only five speech therapists. In collaboration with her colleagues at the University of Ghana, Dr. Crowley developed the country’s first SLP master’s program. The inaugural cohort began in 2016, and the first class of 13 graduates in Spring 2018.

In working with these global communities, Dr. Crowley aims to build capacity and sustainability within local experts so that communities can begin to address their needs for speech therapists and in this way, become more self-sufficient. One example is the annual professional development retreat in Ghana for teachers of students with intellectual disabilities and autism given each year for the past seven years. Dr. Crowley also has a focus on cleft palate speech therapy, and has led cleft palate speech therapy trainings in Asia, Africa, and Latin America often including her students in the trainings, as well as offering free, online cleft palate speech therapy courses in Spanish and English. It was through this aim that the Law and Evidence-based Approaches for Disability Evaluation and Resources (LEADERS) Project was born. Since its inception, LEADERS has offered an open-sourced library in a variety of languages of resources, training materials, and courses for practitioners, educators, and families of children and adolescents with communication disorders.

Looking ahead, Dr. Crowley’s international involvement continues to increase. In January 2018, she plans to take another group of students to Ghana. This time, she will remain there for part of the semester to conduct research and teach in the master’s program there. From there, Dr. Crowley will head to Paris for a language immersion program so that she can expand her work to French-speaking countries in Africa. Afterwards, she plans to continue her work with Smile Train with a five-day speech therapy training institute for cleft palate across India, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

By: Melanie Cooke

Editors: Heidi Liu Banerjee & Blessing Nuga


 

Dr. Mary Mendenhall isn’t simply an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Department of International and Transcultural Studies, a committed researcher, or a loving mother; she’s also a pioneer. With a team of dedicated graduate students and the support of IDEO.org, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and the Office of International Affairs’ (OIA) Global Investment Fund (GIF) grant, Dr. Mendenhall spearheaded the pilot launch of “Teachers for Teachers”—a professional development initiative that combines teacher training, peer coaching, and mobile mentoring in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya. Founded in 2015, Teachers for Teachers jumpstarts and sustains teacher professional development for refugee and national teachers providing education to refugees in Kenya.

In one of the largest refugee camps in the world—where 51% (90,673) of the population is under 18—only 31% of teachers have received any kind of training. The average teacher-to-student ratio is 1:103. The reality of such numbers led Dr. Mendenhall and her team to develop Teachers for Teachers. A comprehensive, open-source curriculum, Teachers for Teachers employs a three-pronged approach: (1) internationally and locally co-led training workshops for teachers; (2) in-person peer coaching and group support; and (3) mobile mentoring, through which teachers communicate with experienced teachers or passionate educators around the world using the mobile messaging device, Whatsapp. Dr. Mendenhall and her team aim to fill gaps in education for refugees in Kakuma Camp, Kenya and across the globe; they strive to make the model sustainable and dynamic as the program trains locals to become leaders in the camp’s education system: “What’s been amazing is that now that we have 132 teachers trained in this first round, we can draw on those same teachers to return to support future training and coaching activities. They are able to say in their own words what worked for them and what didn’t work. It just changes the dynamic and is far more effective when they’re right there co-leading with us.”

Dr. Mendenhall is quick to underscore the involvement of her students. Not only did they initiate the ambitious project, they are also indispensable in sustaining it. “A couple years ago, we started that process. It was a long process, but students who had taken my “Education Emergencies” class1 were really motivated, really committed, and coincidentally many of them were teachers themselves. We continued working together and we wrote—they wrote, heavily—the curriculum that’s now become the training pack for primary school teachers in crisis contexts.” With the GIF grant, Dr. Mendenhall and two Master’s students—Charlotte Bergin and Peter Bjorklund—spent several weeks in Kakuma to collect data for the pilot launch. Charlotte went on to be hired as a consultant analyzing the pilot data and drafting the final curriculum, which was developed in collaboration with the inter-agency Teachers in Crisis Contexts Working Group. Another student on the team, Kathleen Denny, joined the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to pilot the project in Iraq.

To the outside eye, the pilot of Teachers for Teachers couldn’t have been more successful. Even so, bolstered by this initial success, Dr. Mendenhall and her students eagerly anticipate further growth. Since its inception in Kakuma, the open-sourced curriculum has been adapted by additional organizations to fit the contexts and profiles of teachers in other refugee communities, including those in Iraq and Burundi. Teachers for Teachers is also in the process of adapting the model for use at the secondary level and in a nearby settlement—Kalobeyei—as part of a UN-led initiative to integrate refugees with national Kenyans. However, it’s not just the growing numbers and growing interest that keeps Dr. Mendenhall and her research team motivated, “…It’s the resilience the teachers have, despite having 200 kids in their classroom and not enough books. It’s that they’re still eager to be teachers because they know that education is what it will take to get out of that camp someday, and to have other opportunities. They just kind of blow me away. They’re so grateful for us, and yet they have no idea that what they’re giving us is so much more than what we could ever give them.”

Teachers for Teachers is currently fundraising to update the curriculum and expand its reach. If you would like to help, you can get in touch with them here.


1 This group of amazing students included: Katherine Baker, Christine Bell, Charlotte Bergin, Peter Bjorklund, Rachel Chasse, Holly Cook, Kaitlyn Crandall, Kathleen Denny, Julie Dunn, Huipu Lee, Sheila Matsuda, Laura Wagner, and Brittney Wilcox

Students

‌‌Selma Zaki is a second-year master’s candidate in Psychological Counseling in the Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology. This past year, Selma and three other TC students—Charlotte Hamm, Nour Salem, and Lai la Salam—founded an initiative called In Fluency to explore the intersection of psychology and politics and examine the role of mental health professionals and other change agents within that intersection. On April 21st, In Fluency hosted their first event “Psychology Beyond Borders: Lessons from Sudan, Kashmir, Palestine, and Burma.” Co-sponsored by the Office of International Affairs (OIA), the panel featured a diverse cast of mental health experts and activists sharing their narratives about the extent to which the current political situation in their respective countries impacts citizens’ mental health.

In Fluency was born out of both a feeling of disconnect and a need to reconnect—to oneself, to the TC community, and to the outside world. For Selma, born in America and raised by Iraqi-Lebanese-Palestinian parents in Lebanon, this disconnect began when she moved to the United States to obtain her master’s degree. Like many newly matriculated students, upon arriving at TC, Selma experienced fear and a feeling of being out of place. Although she holds an American passport, she grew up in Lebanon so she felt like an international student, which ultimately led to feelings of isolation. “I felt frustrated—and I know a lot of people feel frustrated—but I was frustrated for a year and I’m usually someone who tries to translate that frustration into something, and I think that’s what I tried to do with In Fluency.”

It was these shared feelings of frustration and disconnection that brought Selma and the other co-founders of In Fluency together. “We wanted a name that was catchy and that captured the idea of understanding different cultures. […] When you’re fluent in a language, you can begin to understand the culture, so that’s where the name came from. When you’re fluent, you can influence, but only after you understand it.” Selma describes In Fluency as a space for understanding psychology on two levels—the individual and the big picture. In Fluency’s goal is to examine what is happening in other countries and what an individual can do to respond. “We’re talking about countries like Palestine, Kashmir, and Myanmar, where it’s not very easy to do anything.”

As she looks toward the future and her impending graduation in December 2017, Selma is working through the struggle that she says many international students face—does she invest herself in In Fluency at TC or does she redirect her attention back home? One thing that may sway her is whether or not In Fluency can initiate changes in the culture of the Psychology Counseling Program here at TC.

By: Melanie Cooke

Editors: Heidi Liu Banerjee & Blessing Nuga



Michelle YoungHwa Chang
, M.S., Ed.M, is a second-year doctoral candidate studying under the supervision of Dr. Erika Levy in the Department of ‌Communication Sciences and Disorders. Their research team is piloting a treatment program for children with Cerebral Palsy that have developed dysarthria, difficult or unclear articulation of speech that is otherwise linguistically normal. Michelle is in the process of developing her thesis to expand this treatment to bilingual children. 

Mrs. YoungHwa Chang’s resume is not only impressive; it also tells the story of how she found her passion for speech pathology. After obtaining her undergraduate degree in Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley, Michelle moved to Boston to work at Boston Children’s Hospital as a research assistant in a cognitive neuroscience lab that studied child dyslexia. It was the speech pathologists in the lab—who demonstrated the importance of combining treatment research with clinical practice—that sparked her interest in speech pathology. After obtaining two master’s degrees—in Education at Harvard and in clinical Speech Pathology at MGH Institute of Health Professions—Michelle joined forces with Dr. Levy, whom she had wanted to work with since her time at Boston Children’s. 
 
Mrs. YoungHwa Chang hopes to continue research on children with dysarthria by examining whether the current treatment protocol can be generalized, or tailored, to bilingual and multilingual children; as an Korean-English bilingual herself, she plans to begin with this population:  
 
“I think treatment research is one of the most important research that we need to be doing because there hasn’t been a lot of research done on speech treatment for children with cerebral palsy. If clinical practices are not evidence-based, then it’s difficult to know whether therapies are being done correctly. This is the area where I’d like to contribute as a researcher. Also, there are so many children that speak more than one language in this country, and we need to be able to tailor our therapy to fit these kids’ needs. So I’d like to take the research a step further and work with bilingual children, and to see how treatment affects both languages.”
 
This is ambitious work, and it’s through the support of her research team, and Dr. Levy, that Michelle finds confidence and motivation to look internationally: “I’m at that stage, looking for collaborators in Korea. If there hadn’t been other people in the lab who had collected data in other countries in the past, I don’t think I would’ve been able to even think about doing this…. I love that though we [lab members] all speak different languages, we are ultimately interested in doing treatment research with individuals who are bilingual or who speak a language other than English.”

‌‌

Alumni

Cristiana Mattos Assumpção, Ed.D., Class of 2002

Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology


Olá, Cristiana! Obrigada muito por falar comigo. Let’s start with you telling us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with Teachers College.

I was born in Brazil and raised in Virginia from 6 to 11 years old. I was alphabetized in English and was greatly influenced by American culture. Back in Brazil, I graduated in Biological Sciences and my first job was at an international school (Graded School in São Paulo). I worked there for 8 years where I taught 5th grade Science and had the opportunity to expand my education through a summer course at NASA. My next job was at Colégio Bandeirantes. I started in 1995 as a Biology teacher and in 1998 I matriculated at Teachers College where I got an M.A. in Education and Computers and an Ed.M. and Ed.D. in Instructional Technology and Media (1998-2002). I have always used computers in education, even before the Internet was invented. My whole career, I have been interested in using technology and different pedagogical approaches. 

Now we can find you at Colegio Bandeirantes in São Paulo, where you are the Coordinator of Educational Technology. Can you tell me about the work you do there?

I started working as an Educational Technology Coordinator when I returned from Teachers College in 2002. The first thing I did was create a professional development course called “EduTech” to help my colleagues start integrating more technology into their practices. I also started integrating distance-learning environments in an effort to move us towards blended learning practices. In the meantime, I participated in national and international conferences, sharing our work and increasing my network for partnerships. I started going to the Distance Learning conferences promoted by Associação Brasileira de Educação a Distância (ABED) to encourage them to look at K-12 as well as university levels. I have participated in the NSTA conferences since 2000, first by myself [and then with] science teachers where we started looking at STEM. I’ve also participated in scientific committees and peer review for AERA, ABED, MoodleMoot, and SBGames. I’m on the Advisory Committee for the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report K-12 edition. I have also published some articles and book chapters on our practices and how we incorporate technology.

As you think about where you are now, how have your experiences at Teachers College played a role in the work you currently do?

I still use many of the materials and experiences I had when I was at Teachers College. I refer a lot to the Eiffel Project, which I was a part of for 4 years, where I learned how to integrate technology in public schools. I use the materials produced by my teachers related to the 21st century curriculum, rubrics and soft skills. Everything we develop, we document, publish and evaluate, using much of the Action Research format I used for my doctorate. I could not have developed such a deep change without the preparation Teachers College gave me. I am still in constant touch with TC through our Earth 2 Class project with Dr. Michael J. Passow, an ongoing project we started in 2000, where we partner to expand science teaching with international collaboration.

Last year, you presented a session called “The Intersection Between Social and Emotional Learning and STEAM,” at TC’s Academic Festival. I think many of us are familiar with STEM, but could you explain what STEAM is and how it plays out at your school?

Five years ago, we decided to rewrite our high school curriculum in general, and the science curriculum in particular. We exchanged the separate biology, chemistry, and physics labs for an interdisciplinary course called STEAM. When we started building the vision, we started with STEM, but as we studied more about learning and the importance of the arts in bringing in a different model of thinking and researching, we came to understand that incorporating the arts into STEM would enrich our proposal and offer an opportunity to bring the arts to the high school curriculum. The STEAM course is a science course, but the arts are being integrated through contact with different materials, design, communication, observation, aesthetics and divergent thinking. When we built our course we had a multidisciplinary group of teachers writing the lessons—a biology, a chemistry, a physics, an art and a math teacher. We used design thinking and Project Based Learning (PBL) as the method of investigation to integrate a hands-on approach and collaborative group work into the course.

An example of how the arts helps STEM is when our students study color and images in 10th grade. They start by studying the theory of colors then they study how color is formed through physical, biological and chemical models. They have to use learned material to build Pixel Art and digital filters to understand how the technology they use daily, works. Then they study how animals see and how vision defects can change the perception of color (daltonism). They build special glasses that imitate how daltonism affects vision and try to observe different works of art using these glasses. We are the first school in Brazil to incorporate STEAM in the curriculum, and many schools are coming to visit us to see how we are doing this because they want to start as well.

How is social and emotional learning (these so-called “soft skills”) integrated into this pedagogy?

We integrated student participation, individually and in groups, into the grading system. We have created dynamics where we work collaboratively with the students to build a social contract, deciding the criteria with which we will assess their participation. Then we have several moments where students do self-assessments of their participation, and we have several participation checkpoints and strategies. We also ask students to evaluate the course and give us feedback. In the end, their final grade is 50% tasks and learned content and 50% participation.

The longer class schedule is also important for us to have time to work systematically on group work and for students to become more autonomous and responsible. For students to be able to develop these soft skills, we have to give them enough time to try to do things on their own. Also, our method has the students at the center of the process. We don’t “teach” class. We challenge the students to solve problems and give them the tools to be able to do that. The teachers act as guides to help the students overcome difficulties, but the students should be proactive and investigative. 

What are some of the challenges you’re facing in building this active, creative program in an environment that has a long-standing history of prioritizing traditional “hard science” subjects over “soft skills”?

The first challenge was building the vision. We had wonderful lab classes and it was hard for the teachers to give them up. It was also hard for the teachers to rethink their roles and understand their new identities as teachers. They had always seen themselves as the deliverers of content. It is still taking us a lot of discussion and practice to really rethink the vision of STEAM. We have even created a study group–Núcleo de Estudo, Reflexão e Discussão (NERD)—to study the research. One thing I believe we did right was that we are using a blended model: we inserted STEAM and other interdisciplinary approaches, but at the same time we also maintained the traditional theoretical classes. I believe the theory really enriches the student projects, giving us more time to dedicate our activities to the soft skills.

Cristiana, thank you again for taking the time to tell me more about yourself! Before we end, is there something that I have not touched on that you wished we had?

The pleasure is mine! To end, I have to tell you about a few things that really show us we are on the right track. Two of the teachers already did their master’s degree work studying our STEAM course. This gives us external validation and has brought us close to researchers. We have also published some articles and book chapters and have been invited to several conferences to discuss our work. Recently, I presented our curriculum at BETT Brazil. We are also offering courses on how to build a STEAM curriculum to teachers and administrators from other schools. I am finishing a book about our story, which tells the reader how to start his or her own STEAM curriculum. Thank you for this opportunity!

By: Melanie Cooke

Editors: Heidi Liu Banerjee & Blessing Nuga 


Gemma Moya Gale, Ph.D., Class of 2015

Department of Biobehavioral Sciences, Communication Sciences and Disorders

Hi, Gemma! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. I was hoping you could start by telling me a little bit about yourself (where you’re from, education background, degree, etc.).

Alum Spotlight 3/2017

I studied English Linguistics in Barcelona, Spain, and then obtained a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition. In 2010, I was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to complete a Master of Science in Speech and Language Pathology at Teachers College. In 2011, I was awarded a La Caixa Fellowship, which allowed me to pursue my PhD in Communication Disorders at Teachers College. I specialized in the treatment of neurogenic motor speech disorders, especially dysarthria secondary to Parkinson’s disease. During that time I was also extensively involved in the treatment of aphasia and bilingual aphasia. I am now working at the Movement Disorders Unit of UParkinson, at Teknon Medical Center, in Barcelona, Spain, where I work with patients with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

One of TC’s mottos is “education has no boundaries,” and it’s based on the hope that TC can not only bring the world to its campus, but spread TC (its members, mission, knowledge, etc.) throughout the world. How has your personal research experience, and/or your classwork at TC, informed your understanding of this motto?

I completely agree with this motto! TC provided me with a unique opportunity to develop my research and professional interests. During my stay at TC, and as a graduate student, I was able to do aural (re)habilitation in La Paz (Bolivia) and be involved in a cleft lip and palate clinical training in Guatemala, thanks to Dr. Cate Crowley. As a doctoral student, I was the clinical supervisor in a randomized control trial (RCT) in Brussels (Belgium), as part of Dr. Erika Levy’s investigation on pediatric dysarthria; we’re co-authoring a study in the spring to see if those speaking treatments might increase speech intelligibility. Additionally, during those six years at TC, first as a Masters student and then as a doctoral candidate, I was able to present at both national and international conferences (including Sweden, Poland, Belgium and the Netherlands) and I also had the opportunity to teach some courses at TC.  So education indeed has no boundaries.

We hear that you’re currently in Spain working with Spanish speakers with Parkinson’s disease. I’m intrigued! How did you get involved with this population and this disease? Is this research something you felt drawn to or did it come to you?

That’s correct! I am now working at UParkinson, the Movement Disorders Unit at Teknon Medical Center, in Barcelona. I validated an English-based intensive speech treatment into Spanish for my PhD dissertation and I am now implementing this treatment in Barcelona, where it was relatively unknown. When I started researching about Spanish dysarthria, I was stunned to see there was virtually almost nothing out there to guide speech intervention in languages other than English. I thought my research could contribute to the creation of evidence-based practices in Spanish dysarthria and that’s the line of work I keep doing in Spain.

I am also working as an Assistant Professor at the Open University of Catalunya (UOC), where I teach a graduate-level course, Language Acquisition, and I advise graduate students on their final thesis.

ResearchWhat does this research mean to you?

To me, it means bringing into real-life all these past years of hard work at TC. I find it challenging too because there’s so little research in this area, but at the same time it’s such a priceless learning experience and I am very happy to be developing research in my own language to help my community, here in Spain and abroad. I want to better understand the speech and language characteristics of Spanish speaking individuals with Parkinson’s disease in order to establish efficient treatment techniques in this language and provide other clinicians with evidence-based tools when working with Spanish-speaking populations with this neurodegenerative disorder.

Looking ahead, do you have any future ideas for your career? Any goals you’re currently working towards?

I’m passionate about what I do. I love working in the clinical world while developing cross-linguistic research and teaching students at university to become better clinicians and thinkers. I am working on several publications right now and on bringing awareness of the importance of speech and language therapy in Spain. There is still a lot to do in Barcelona right now, but I’d love to work in NYC again in the future, given the linguistic and cultural diversity that is so characteristic of the city.

Gemma, thank you again for taking the time to tell me more about yourself—I can’t wait to read your answers! Before I end this, is there something that I have not touched on that you wished we had? The stage is yours!

Thank you very much--it was my pleasure!



Visiting Scholars

Yuh-Jia Chen, Ph.D.

Department of Human Development | Measurement, Evaluation & Statistics Program

TC Faculty Host: Dr. James Corter‌

“If the risk averse and risk taking attitudes can be identified, insurance and investment companies can better predict behavior and from there, guide their clients to plan for retirement more effectively.”

With the hope of helping people make better and more rational and ethical decisions, particularly those related to finances, Dr. Yuh-Jia Chen, returned to Teachers College as a visiting scholar to research decision-making and business ethics with Dr. James Corter, Professor of Statistics and Education in the Human Development department. Mainly, Dr. Chen studied choice patterns in repeated-play conditions; do people change their risk preference over time and if so, how? Although the implications of his findings appear to be largely theoretically, he believes they are also useful in understanding how organizational cultures impact employees’ ethics and ethical behavior, money intelligence and money attitudes. “If the risk averse and risk taking attitudes can be identified, insurance and investment companies can better predict behavior and from there, guide their clients to plan for retirement more effectively.”

Money intelligence is an intrinsic component of daily life, and some would say an indispensable pillar of modern society. It determines why people go to work; what work they do and ultimately, how they survive financially. Even children are aware of its importance, albeit perhaps only marginally. But, how exactly do we develop this awareness? How do we grow to understand what money is and how to use it? According to Dr. Chen, understanding how money intelligence influences behavior can also inform why people make irrational choices with it. For example, in spite of the odds, when given a hundred chances and the option of winning $100 10% of the time or $10 90% of the time, people do not pick the same option each time. Instead they go back and forth about equally. Dr. Chen proposes that understanding the rationale of how people allocate their choice options is a step towards understanding how to help them make more rational decisions. 

Dr. Chen’s interest in business ethics and decision-making stems from a diverse academic background that dates back to his time as a master’s student in TC’s own Organizational Psychology program. It was while writing his thesis on decision-making that he began making connections to a larger picture. Although understanding how individuals and organizations think is essential to decision-making, he also realized that he needed to understand data modeling. This curiosity culminated in a master’s degree in statistics and then a doctorate in measurement and evaluation in 2001. When asked about his TC experience, Dr. Chen eagerly shared anecdotes of his time attending classes, toiling over papers and interacting with instructors who are now his colleagues. “I love TC. It has a unique and wonderful culture that makes people very comfortable to learn and grow. TC creates a good energy and environment that [allows me] to conduct good research.”

Dr. Chen plans to publish his findings and then return to teaching at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida where he holds a full professorship. He also hopes to continue pursuing this line of research. He can be reached via e-mail.


Eli Vinokur, Ph.D.

Department of Arts & Humanities | Philosophy & Education Program

TC Faculty Host: Dr. David Hansen 

“In order to fix education, you need to fix people’s attitudes towards one another. Education is more than learning; it is the atmosphere and interactions that allow for authentic, autonomous self-transformation.”‌

Dr. Eli Vinokur is a visiting scholar in the department of Arts and Humanities. Born in St. Petersburg, Dr. Eli Vinokur received his BA in Jewish Philosophy and Jewish History (Ofakim Honors program) and his MA in Jewish Philosophy from Tel Aviv University. After some time as a secondary school teacher of Jewish philosophy and culture, he went on to receive his PhD in education from the University of Haifa.

Dr. Vinokur’s research focuses on education toward “rooted cosmopolitanism.” Cosmopolitanism is a concept that dates back to ancient Greek civilization, but according to Dr. Vinokur is present in all cultures and religions (his own research traces the roots of cosmopolitanism in Judaism, and in Kabbalah in particular). It is the idea that human beings, regardless of race, religion or nationality, belong to a single community grounded in a shared morality. Education toward rooted cosmopolitanism expands on this ideology by focusing on the viable ways to bridge the gap between the often-sublime ideals of cosmopolitanism and the concrete, real-world aspirations of local education systems. According to Dr. Vinokur, in light of contemporary educational challenges, there is a pressing need to tackle the “otherness” that is so often present in our immediate and remote relationships. Thus, the type of education he hopes to foster is one which “will cultivate care, respect and mutual responsibility for others, inside and beyond national, religious, racial etc., borders….”

A vital component of the “educational cosmopolitanism” Dr. Vinokur envisions is the focus on education, rather than on information. Nowadays, information is so accessible that students can be carriers of knowledge no less than teachers, if properly taught to do so. Thus, educators today need not only be carriers of knowledge who can communicate it to students in new and original ways, but also, and no less importantly they have to become facilitators of positive social processes. The challenge educators face today is generating such an atmosphere in class that will allow students to develop the capability to interact with one another and to form deep and meaningful relationships inside and outside of class, despite and without annulling disagreements and differences. The cultivation of such a civic virtue is made more difficult by current financial, cultural, political and inter-religious trends that place value on opinions that are not necessarily wholesome or beneficial to society. These trends, Dr. Vinokur proposes, jeopardize the future of society because they condition people to treat themselves and others in ways contrary to the spirit of cosmopolitanism—the spirit of global collaboration.

Even so, rooted in Dr. Vinokur’s research is a message of hope and perseverance. Although today’s situation may be difficult, he believes it is also rife with opportunity simply because people inherently understand that things are wrong and they want things to change for the better. Moreover, today’s interconnected and interdependent reality is practically forcing us to recalculate our direction and choose a path of greater cooperation and unity. This change begins with instilling a stronger sense of solidarity, locally and globally, in everyone—not only children. It is for this very reason that he chose to complete his visiting term at Teachers College, an institution he believes is at the forefront of this transformation.

In addition to being a prolific researcher, Dr. Vinokur is also the director of the teacher preparation program for future repatriates to Israel from Russian speaking countries at the Gordon College of Education in conjunction with the Masa Israel program at the Jewish agency. Additionally, four years ago he co-initiated a unique bachelor’s and master’s program for social leaders at the University of Haifa. A longtime dream of Dr. Vinokur’s, this social leaders preparation program works with teenage and adult social activists to cultivate the philosophical and practical tools they need to rekindle and foster in their communities a vision of unity and mutual care between all members of Israeli society. Dr. Vinokur is the author of two popular books and numerous articles. He is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the Wolf Foundation, the Mandel Foundation and both Tel Aviv University and the University of Haifa to name a few. He is currently a teaching fellow at the University of Haifa, the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College and the Israel Academic College in Ramat Gan as well as a member of the research group on Spirituality in Education at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. 

He can be reached at eliv@edu.haifa.ac.il