Fields of Study

Fields of Study


IED Professional Specializations

Below you will find information about the professional concentrations offered by the International and Comparative Education Program for students studying International Educational Development (IED).

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.

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.

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 International and Comparative Education 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.

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.

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.

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/Latinx 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.

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 non‐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.

CIE Academic Disciplines

Below you will find information about the academic disciplines offered by the International and Comparative Education Program for students studying Comparative and International Education (CIE).

Anthropology has a long and distinguished history of contributing directly to the major issues facing all educators. Throughout its history, the discipline has offered powerful alternatives. Anthropologists have participated in the shaping of policy and reform at all levels, from the most general to the most local. The anthropology concentration offers a disciplinary approach to analyzing the entry of matters of social class, ethnicity, language, race, gender, and other factors into issues of educational achievement, of health disparity, disability, among other concerns. It also helps students understand the ways of knowing specific to the discipline, how to apply them to practical issues, and participate in the continuing evolution of the field, including better methods for application.

Economics is a powerful tool for scholars and educational practitioners who wish to develop a better understanding of educational institutions and decisions. The concentration in Economics and Education allows students in the program to develop an array of skills in the application of economic concepts and theory, in benefit-cost analysis and other evaluative procedures, and in the statistical treatment of mass data.

The History and Education concentration addresses important educational questions, first, by examining the ideas, individuals, and institutions of the past to determine their influence on their own times; and, second, by bringing historical knowledge and perspective to bear on current educational issues. Courses cover a range of topics including the educational history of urban areas, women, immigrants, and African-Americans. Students acquire a deep understanding of education in historical perspective through a comparative lens.

The concentration in Philosophy and Education offers students a unique opportunity to develop their humanistic and critical thinking about comparative and international education. Coursework allows educators to broaden and deepen their understanding of the processes and aims of education through inquiry into the fields of aesthetics, ethics and moral philosophy, and epistemology and the philosophy of science. Study of a variety of historical and conceptual frameworks enables students to develop theoretical perspectives on education and to effectively critique arguments in contemporary educational debates.

How do societies handle conflicting visions of what schools should be doing? What changes in political and governance processes might facilitate better decision-making and policy implementation? The Politics and Education concentration serves students who wish to study the ways in which governance institutions, political ideologies, and competing interests influence the content, form, and functioning of schooling. Students study in-depth the ways power and politics affect and are affected by such issues as reform and innovation, privatization and school choice, race and ethnicity, poverty and inequality, and more.

The Sociology and Education concentration examines basic issues in education from a sociological perspective. Training and hands-on experience in evaluation methods and both quantitative and qualitative research methods are central to the program. The curriculum emphasizes issues in urban education, including the social organization of urban schools and school systems, and the success or failure in serving educationally disadvantaged populations.

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