The College of Education Studies and an Education Studies linked major were established through a faculty vote of 94% in favor on April 14. Professors of Psychology Steven Stemler and Anna Shusterman will co-chair the College and the major, which will require students to have another major in addition to the Education Studies linked major. Students may declare the major immediately.
“Wesleyan’s students consistently go into education more than almost any other field, and Wesleyan University has a role to play in shaping the next generation of educators and public conversation about education,” Shusterman wrote in an email to The Argus. “It’s time for this and we are thrilled to carry it forward.”
Within 36 hours of the faculty vote, 10 students declared the major. Rising seniors who are current Education Studies minors are the oldest class that can transition into the major next year, and the College anticipates that their first cohort of sophomore students will declare the major next spring. Despite the establishment of the major, the Education minor will still be in place; Shusterman noted that a new, smaller set of requirements for the minor will be announced soon. There are no requirements on what Education Studies majors’ other major must be, so long as it is not another linked major.
“Education Studies is so interdisciplinary that it would be possible for students to graduate with a major in Ed Studies and lack some depth in terms of content and methodology that one expects from a major,” Shusterman wrote. “The major is constructed with an emphasis on breadth and interdisciplinarity…. The linked-major requirement ensures that students have a grounding in a core discipline. Much of the time, this will be a discipline in which they want to teach—say math, English, world languages, dance, music, whatever, or this will be a discipline that is one of the grounding fields of education studies.”
To complete the major, students must take 10 credits and complete a teaching practicum. Keeping in tradition with the University’s other Colleges, Education Studies majors will take two cohort-building courses: one 0.5 credit gateway course after declaring the major in their sophomore year and one senior fall seminar. The co-chairs plan to have the senior fall seminar in place before Fall 2020 add/drop. These cohort courses, as outlined in the major proposal, are intended to build a cohort of Education Studies majors within the College, help students understand various interdisciplinary contributions to Education Studies, and guide students in understanding the resources in Education Studies at the University.
To complete the rest of their credit requirements, students must take one Foundations in Education Studies course, three breadth courses in different categories, three elective courses, one broader contexts course, a half-credit course on pedagogy, and a teaching practicum with at least 20 hours of student contact. Students may choose from a pre-approved list of courses for their Foundations in Education Studies course. The categories for breadth courses include the minor’s current Cognition, Development, Science of Learning and Social and Structural Analyses of Education categories, and the final category—Research Methods and Data Analysis—will expand the minor’s current third category to include statistics or research methods. Students will also have the opportunity to write a thesis in education.
According to the proposal for the College of Education Studies, its mission is to create a visible structure that weaves together an academic unit, community-building, and career development. Over the next few years, the College will expand its academic curriculum to offer four additional courses per year, taught by Wesleyan faculty or visiting professors. The design of new courses will attempt to integrate the liberal arts framework—deep scholarship, careful research, critical analysis, and concern for ethics, justice, and human rights—into educational studies. Shusterman and Stemler hope that these four new yearly courses will fill in curricular gaps and provide a more robust set of course offerings for the major.
“We’d really like to add courses in the social, cultural, and historical foundations of education, such as anthropology or history of education,” Shusterman wrote to The Argus. “We’d like to add education policy. We’d like to add courses looking specifically at culture, multiculturalism, and diversity since those are critical to thinking about education. And we’d like to add some courses on curriculum, pedagogy, and instruction, although we have started to have more strength in those areas in recent years.”
The College will also offer a minimum of one colloquium per semester. The colloquium will invite scholars within and outside of the University to discuss their research projects.
Additionally, the College will oversee career-building events and opportunities for students interested in education by continuing to work with the Gordon Career Center and the Office of Advancement. At least once a year, the College will co-sponsor a Careers in Education Panel that will put students in touch with alumni working in education. The Office of Advancement’s partnership with the College will also help connect students with alumni in the field. Four students will also participate in faculty-supervised research through Education Studies fellowships.
Another part of the mission of the College is to establish a flow of ideas between students, staff, and external organizations and scholars. Starting next year, the College will host an annual research open house, which will offer a platform for students and faculty to discuss their academic projects. The College will also spearhead an annual film series in Education. Through the Middletown-Wesleyan (Mid-Wes) Collaborative, a venture designed by Provost Rob Rosenthal to coordinate and leverage campus programs that involve students and teachers in local schools, the College will oversee the development of formal connections between the University and outside educational programs, such as the City’s public schools.
As a new College, the College of Education Studies can begin a search for a new tenure-track faculty member next year. The College is searching for a faculty member who could teach a Foundations, Social Analysis of Education, and Methods course, along with rotating in to teach the sophomore or senior cohort courses.
The process of developing the Education Studies major and College was a long one. Ten years ago, ad hoc committees began to explore the possibility of reviving the University’s Education Studies programs. While the frequency of the committee meetings waned over time, their meetings laid out a plan to build an Education Studies program, stressing the creation of a Certificate in the Study of Education, and the development of an organized community of interested students and faculty.
Over the past few years, the creation of the Wesleyan Education Network listserv and administrative restructuring produced a broader coalition of people interested in education studies, and plans to create a major and College sprung up again. 15 to 20 Advisory Board members held meetings over the course of a few years until their plans coalesced into a consistent vision about what education studies ought to look like at the University. Ultimately, President Michael Roth’s ’78 agreement to allocate resources to the College and the major led the Advisory Board to draft two proposal documents for both. The proposals were presented in February 2020 and passed unanimously by the Educational Policy Committee before heading for the vote by faculty on April 14.
As the College prepares for its first year on campus, Shusterman expressed her gratitude for all of the support Education Studies has received in the past.
“We’re really excited, and grateful to the President, Academic Affairs, the many other offices on campuses that have collaborated with us to get us here, the players in each of the steps that paved the way here, the enthusiastic and supportive alumni, the immensely wonderful advisory board, and most of all the students – they have been advocating for this for years,” Shusterman wrote. “More than anything we are thrilled at the student response.”
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