The mission of the Education Department is to enable students to develop expertise in conceptual and theoretical foundations, research, and practice in the field of education. The knowledge, skills, dispositions, and habits of mind required for such expertise are cultivated within the context of a rigorous liberal arts academic environment, informed by perspectives from a variety of disciplines, enhanced by multiple opportunities to engage in service learning and civic engagement, and animated by a commitment to social justice in schools and society.
A focus on social justice means that students in the Education Department explore the impact of cultural assumptions, societal norms, and institutional policies and practices on individuals and groups and examine the operation of power as it relates to the construction of knowledge and the preservation of privilege. In so doing, students are encouraged to analyze critically the intended and unintended oppressions resulting from specific educational and institutional practices by (1) considering the values and politics that pervade educational institutions, as well as the more pragmatic issues of teaching and organizing schools; (2) asking critical questions about how taken-for-granted assumptions and conventions about theory and practice came to be, and who in society benefits from such assumptions; (3) attending to differences in gender, race, social class, sexual orientation, and ability that result in political, social, economic, and educational marginalization and inequality, particularly for children and youth; and (4) examining the connections among different forms of privilege, particularly as these relate to and influence the development of children and youth. Students also are encouraged to move beyond critique to create and implement educational and institutional practices that promote greater social justice and equity in schools and society.
The Education Department offers a major in educational studies that encourages a broad liberal arts exploration of educational theory, research, and practice, informed by a commitment to social justice. Students may also pursue minors in educational studies and in professional certification under the auspices of the program.