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International & Transcultural Studies
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College
Columbia University

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Mission Statement > Departmental Mission

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Mission Statement

Departmental Mission

In recognition of the interconnectedness of all human beings around the globe, Teachers College has a longstanding commitment to the international arena. It dedicates the resources of several social science disciplines and a program in bilingual education to developing the College’s contribution to the understanding of global processes.

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, Economics, and Comparative and International Education emphasize research on the social, cultural, economic, and political aspects of global processes. The programs in International Educational Development and Bilingual Education prepare 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, privatization of education, and language and literacy. Students can concentrate within the department in such areas as African education, bilingual/bicultural 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 or economics (e.g., sociology, political science, history, or philosophy) also work closely with faculty outside the department. Degrees are offered by programs only, not in concentrations.