IED Professional Specializations | International and Comparative Education Program | International & Transcultural Studies

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International and Comparative Education

In the Department of International & Transcultural Studies

IED Professional Specializations

Read more about the IED Professional Specializations here.

African Education

Liaison Faculty: Professor S. Garnett Russell 

The concentration in African Education reflects the growing demand within schools and other public agencies for persons knowledgeable about the diverse institutions and historical processes that have shaped the African continent and its educational systems. There is also an unprecedented need for educators and policy makers who understand the fundamental changes in African education stemming from decentralization, democratization, and privatization as well as religious and political movements on the continent. The concentration provides students with a foundation in African studies through courses on cultural and social relations in African communities, demographic changes on the continent, and comparative studies of education in specific African countries. Those who select this concentration will be prepared for further academic studies as well as for professional careers in teaching, policy-making, and international development. Students are encouraged to consult with the concentration liaison or faculty advisor to select courses from other departments at Teachers College as well as from other programs at Columbia University.

Family & Community Education

Liaison Faculty: Professor Hope Jensen Leichter

Teachers College continues its long history of groundbreaking work on Family and Community Education through the concentration in Family and Community Education in the ITS Department. In this concentration a founding premise concerning educational configurations is central. In all societies individuals learn from many others in their social networks, e.g. parents, siblings, grandparents, peers, religious leaders, as well as teachers and other professionals. What is more, education takes place through many institutions, e.g. families, day-care centers, businesses, the media, museums, libraries, community agencies, religious institutions, as well as the schools. Since the configurations of these educational networks and institutions are subject to change - sometimes drastic changes such as those associated with new technological enterprises - studies in Family and Community Education examine the changing linkages among educative institutions in the community. Fundamental changes in education also stem from the extensive transnational migration and immigration taking place in many areas of the world today. Given increasing geographic mobility, together with new forms of communication, an understanding of the connections between local and global cultures and the resources families and communities bring from one area to another is essential for educators and policy makers. Thus, another focus of the concentration is studies of family migration, immigration, and education. Courses examine basic processes of education within families, for example, the social construction of family memories, the mediation of television and other forms of technology by families, as well as the changing configurations of education in community settings, for example, linkages among museums, families, and schools. Frameworks for these courses are interdisciplinary, drawing upon concepts from the social sciences and the humanities.

International Humanitarian Issues

Liaison Faculty: Professor Mary Mendenhall and Professor S. Garnett Russell

The International Humanitarian Issues (IHI) Concentration is an interdisciplinary specialization within the Program in International Educational Development. It is designed for students interested in conducting research on humanitarian issues or in providing humanitarian assistance in regions experiencing conflict, post-conflict recovery, or natural disasters. Through courses offered at Teachers College, the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), the School of Social Work, the Earth Institute, and the Mailman School of Public Health, students will examine the social, political, environmental, and economic dimensions of humanitarian emergencies and the impact of these emergencies on the education sector. Coursework in these different departments and programs will allow students to explore from an interdisciplinary perspective the role of formal and non-formal education in periods of conflict and crisis and to consider the limitations of education in resolving different kinds of humanitarian emergencies. Students in the IHI concentration will plan an appropriate course of study with their advisors, but they are required to take courses from at least one program outside the ICE Program. Additionally, at the doctoral level, students are recommended to complete an internship with an organization involved in humanitarian issues, such as the African Services Committee or the International Rescue Committee with whom standing internship programs exist. In addition, master's and doctoral students are advised to take foreign language and area studies classes to help them obtain familiarity with cultural, historical, and linguistic contexts in which they plan to work.

International Policy & Planning

Liaison Faculty: Professors Oren Pizmony-Levy and Gita Steiner-Khamsi

The International Policy and Planning (IPP) concentration is interdisciplinary and applies a cross-national and comparative lens for understanding educational reform at the different levels of an educational system, that is, early childhood education, school (primary, lower secondary, upper secondary), teacher education, vocational-technical education, and higher education. In addition, the IPP concentration is attuned to non-formal education systems and programs. Courses are taught with attention to multiple paradigms and worldviews to prepare future scholars and policy analysts to engage in the work of educational reform, formation, and study. Faculty who teach international policy and planning courses are experts on theories of policy change (e.g., globalization studies, cross-national policy borrowing/lending, transfer of “best practices,” etc.), education reform, and social movements as well as experienced in techniques and methods for carrying out applied analytical work in international policy and planning: sector reviews, policy analysis, public opinion, indicator research, monitoring and evaluation as well as strategic planning in international educational development. Students in this concentration learn about the craft of policy making and analysis, build a strong foundation in theory and debates, and learn empirical methods and analysis. Upon completion of the program, students are equipped with the knowledge to analyze education change in the context of political, economic, and social processes. Equally important, they are able to apply skills that are necessary for developing evidence-based sector reviews, design, monitor and evaluate projects in culture-sensitive and context-specific ways, and use participatory methods for sector planning in international educational development.

Languages, Literacies & Cultures

Liaison Faculty: Professors Carol Benson and Nicholas Limerick

This interdisciplinary concentration encourages students to analyze relationships between linguistic and educational practices in an increasingly globalized and technical world. Courses in this concentration address themes of individual and societal multilingualism, multiliteracies and multiculturalism in a range of contexts, including management of diverse languages, the education of immigrant groups, and revitalization in situations of language endangerment/loss. Students may study the role of family, community, school, and/or national-level policy in promoting and valorizing non-dominant languages and cultures. Others may consider how to plan for and teach additional regional, national or international linguistic varieties. Research methods include participant observation, discourse analysis, comparative policy studies, assessment of student achievement and literacies competencies, and classroom-based observation. Courses are designed to help students develop a critical, comparative perspective regarding questions of power, identity, Indigeneity and interculturalism in economically developing as well as developed countries. Associated fields include linguistic human rights, language policy, language-in-education policy and practice, languages and literacies pedagogy and assessment. More recent paradigms include multimodal communication, such as understandings of how visual and digital literacies influence communication and teaching.

Latin American & Latino Education

Liaison Faculty: Professor Regina Cortina

Latin American and Latino Education (LALE) is an interdisciplinary concentration focused on education across the Americas. Responding to the importance of the Latin American and Caribbean region as well as the growing numbers of immigrants from that region to the United States, this concentration provides students with a foundation in Latin American/Latino studies through courses that consider topics such as, the impact of economic processes on education in the region; language policy in schools; the social, cultural, and political dimensions of education, ethnicity, and academic achievement; gender and social change; educational access and quality; teacher preparation and curricular development; patterns of migration within and between countries in the Western hemisphere; intercultural education; and the impact of international and bilateral educational policies and institutions on educational policy and practice in the region. Students are also encouraged to pursue relevant coursework at the School of International and Public Affairs, the Mailman School of Public Health, and other Columbia-affiliated institutions to examine the variety of linguistic, cultural, social, political, and economic processes that shape education across the Americas.

Peace & Human Rights Education

Liaison Faculty: Professor S. Garnett Russell and Professor Felisa Tibbitts 

In recognition of the unprecedented dimensions of issues of security, war and peace, human rights and global justice, and sustainable development, the International and Comparative Education program offers a degree concentration in Peace and Human Rights Education. Peace and Human Rights Education is primarily concerned with promoting human dignity and addressing direct, structural and cultural violence through the transformation of pedagogy, curriculum, learning tools, and policies related to teaching and learning in both formal and nonā€formal settings. Through the concentration, students are provided with a conceptual understanding of issues related to peace and human rights, as well as practical skills in curriculum design and program development. Students are encouraged to follow a program that will prepare them to pursue the objectives of peace and human rights in whatever area of education they choose to concentrate.

Bilingual/Bicultural Education*

Department of Arts & Humanities

Please see the Bilingual/Bicultural Education website for more information.

Conflict Resolution*

Department of Organization and Leadership

Conflict Resolution is a concentration of courses aimed at developing core competencies for reflective scholars/practitioners. The courses are offered by the ICCR, the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution, whose mission is to help individuals, schools, communities, businesses and governments better understand the nature of conflict and how to achieve its constructive resolution.


Curriculum & Teaching*

Department of Curriculum and Teaching

Broad questions about the nature, purpose, and design of curriculum and about the theory and practice of teaching remain at the core of the Curriculum and Teaching concentration. Addressing these questions in contemporary times calls for critical analyses of the ways in which curriculum, teaching, and schooling contribute to social inequalities, and a commitment to educating for social justice. Students have opportunities to become expert in such areas as curriculum development, school change and reform initiatives, action research and other school-based inquiry strategies, and gain perspectives on teaching as a complex intellectual activity.

Educational Leadership*

Department of Organization and Leadership

The Education Leadership concentration prepares students for careers as practitioners and scholars to lead and transform a wide variety of educating organizations. Students are equipped to lead educational practice; to influence political systems, education law, and education policy; to apply the methods of social science research to the conduct of inquiry; and to seek equality, equity, and diversity in education. Graduates serve in leadership positions as school principals and headmasters, district superintendents, and education leaders in comparable positions of executive leadership; as policy analysts and advocates; and as scholars of education and education leadership.

Higher Education*

Department of Organization and Leadership

The concentration in Higher Education is concerned with teaching, learning, and scholarly and professional development; organizational and institutional analysis; and social and comparative perspectives on knowledge production, policy and institutional development. Students work within and across these domains, developing programs of study that are focused on particular themes and issues (e.g., policy, scholarly learning and careers, student development, professional development), and are informed broadly by a diverse array of ideas, perspectives, and questions. The program prepares researcher-theorists and scholar-practitioners who create and implement cutting-edge policy based upon enhanced skills as professional educators, researchers, and theory-builders.


*Denotes out of department 

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