We are proud to welcome eight doctoral students to our vibrant doctoral program! We are looking forward to working with and learning from them in the coming years. In addition to the various reasons for joining the program, each of our new students is undertaking research across a wide range of topics within the field of international and comparative education.


Gareth Alexis Brinkworth

Gareth will research how schooling can help address global existential risks such as hostile AI, global pandemics and the climate crisis. He has most recently worked as an education policy adviser to the UK government and previously as a teacher and programme coordinator in countries including Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, Myanmar, Tajikistan and the UK. 

Something special about TC

“Teachers College tackles the biggest questions we face in education - such as how schooling can help sustain life on earth - whilst seeking both contribution to knowledge and real-world change.”


Theresa Cann

Theresa’s work draws connections of Black women’s involvement in social movements between the diaspora and the African continent. She is interested in the role of decolonization, human rights norms, and social movements in transforming structures of inequality in educational settings and policies, particularly how students carry out such efforts within many global contexts to inform our understandings and enactment of educational reform. Her research centers on how Black female student activists, on the African continent and in the diaspora, conceptualize resistance and operationalize multiple frameworks—gender, decolonization, and human rights—in response to systems of marginality in education. Prior to TC, she worked in various capacities in higher education as a trained Student Affairs Professional and International Educator with expertise in humanitarian programming. She has developed youth empowerment and teacher training programs in Dalun, Ghana, and led educational initiatives in HIV-AIDS, gender, civic literacy, human rights, and environmental sustainability in Costa Rica, Senegal, South Africa, and Kenya.

Something special about TC

“TC encourages the acquisition and application of knowledge. It is a special place because it embodies the essence of transforming education from theory-to-practice. Through academic engagement with faculty and students, I developed a Human Rights Education curriculum on Financial Literacy for WISER School in Kenya; designed an M&E instrument for Soronko Academy in Ghana and conducted research on Female Leadership and Access to Tertiary Education in Post-Conflict Contexts project at the George Clement Bond Center for African Education in collaboration with SHE-CAN under the mentorship of Professor S. Garnett Russell. TC’s emphasis on the value of theory-to-practice led me to create and direct Critical Dialogue in Education, a program designed as an academic and social response to educational innovation discussions to amplify perspectives from the African continent. I am grateful for all these opportunities and look forward to more!”


Arnela Čolić

Arnela's research explores the role of education in peacebuilding and nation-state (re)building, highlighting the reconciliation of national and international interests in this process, with the goal of informing policy development and reform. While broadly interested in multi-ethnic post-conflict contexts, her previous works centers primarily on Eastern Europe. Her master's thesis explored conceptions of national identity in Kosovo's Albanian and Serbian history textbooks. Her passion for education in conflict stems from her own experience as a Bosnian refugee and her work with the Peace Corps as an English teacher and trainer in rural Kosovo. 

Something special about TC

“In addition to the numerous opportunities for collaboration and service that TC's New York City location offers, the multidisciplinary approach to research in the education in emergencies and education in conflict fields drew me to TC.”


Asel Dorombaeva

Asel’s research interests focus on the intersection of policy formulation and implementation in developing countries, national ownership, and stakeholder engagement in policy formulation and how it informs its implementation. For her Master’s Integrative Project, she conducted research on the ability of the Kyrgyz Ministry of Education to exercise its leadership over development policies and coordinated the efforts of various development partners. Prior to joining TC as a doctoral student, she led a project on citizen engagement to improve social accountability at the school level.

Something special about TC

“TC is special with its world-renowned faculty, a wealth of resources, ambitious and diverse students. It can help you use your life to make an impact on the world.”


Whitney Hough

Whitney’s research interests focus on the nexus of education, conflict, development, and peacebuilding. She is particularly interested in exploring access to high-quality education in emergencies; teacher professional development in crisis and conflict-affected contexts; education’s role in post-conflict reconciliation; and youth civic engagement following conflict. Prior to the program, Whitney worked in the international educational development field for twelve years, specifically in Fulbright teacher training and exchange programs, as well as in human rights and civic engagement curriculum development. Her Master's research centered on youth participation in post-conflict peacebuilding.

Something special about TC

"I am drawn to Teachers College for so many reasons but appreciate above all the passion of the students, the strong program ties between theory and practice, and the extensive and diverse experiences that faculty have in the education in the emergencies field."


Tomás Esper

Prior to joining the program, Tomás earned a Master’s in Public Administration at Columbia University and an M.A. in Policy Studies in Education at UCL Institute of Education in England. Before moving to the US, Tomás served as an education policy advisor at the Municipality of La Matanza, the largest school district in Argentina. Later, he worked as a researcher for UNESCO-IIEP on a project about secondary education in Latin America and as research consultant for different projects for NORRAG. Furthermore, during his time as a master’s student at Columbia, he worked as Teaching Assistant in the class “Structural Reform for Public Education”. Tomas’ research interests include educational privatization, public-private partnerships, school reform, education governance and new philanthropy in Latin America.

Something special about TC

“The vibrant intellectual atmosphere and collaborative spirit created by its faculty and students are the reasons why I have no doubts it is the best place to continue my career.”


Samaya Mansour

Samaya’s research and scholarly interests lies at the intersection of citizenship, education, positive social change, and democracy in conflict and post-conflict settings. Prior to joining the PhD program, Samaya worked as a researcher and consultant for the MENA region on several large-scale projects that focus on education reform and school improvement, education policy in the MENA region, teacher training and wellbeing, and youth development.

Something special about TC

TC offers an international and interdisciplinary program, and it brings together faculty and students from diverse backgrounds. It provides opportunities for personal and professional growth within an environment of learning, collaboration, and cultural sensitivity. I am very privileged to learn with and from professors and colleagues.


Darren Rabinowitz

Darren is interested studying the impacts of education and human well-being on climate change. Specifically, how are human behavior and activities, which are seen to be the main cause of climate change, influenced by education and an individual's well-being? I am interested in exploring how education can curtail human behaviors that contribute to climate change and, in turn, support countries' sustainable development efforts toward greener economies, political structures and societies.

Something special about TC

“I admire the professors in our department, who bring their experience, curiosity, and joy of learning into the classroom. If not for them, I would not have applied to Ph.D. programs after graduating with my M.A. The opportunities they opened my eyes to and their encouraging words allowed me to blossom as an academic, professional, and educator. I am deeply grateful for their commitment to the field of education and their students. It is because of their tireless efforts we all have a future worth looking forward to.”

Good luck Gareth, Theresa, Arnela, Asel, Whitney, Tomas, Samaya, and Darren!

The International and Comparative Education Program prepares doctoral students to enter academia and/or assume leadership positions in various organizations in the field. Our teaching framework emphasizes theory, disciplinary and content knowledge specific to sub-fields, research methods, and applied skills.  If you are interested in applying to our doctoral program, visit the Office of Admission.