Educational Theory & Social Foundations Program
About the Program
Educational Theory and Social Foundations is a graduate-level program in the department of Educational Foundations and Leadership at the Judith Herb College of Education (JHCOE). [View the program's position in the hierarchy of UT]
The program offers both M.A. Degrees and Ph.D. Degrees within four concentrations: the philosophy of education, history of education, educational sociology, and interdisciplinary foundations of education. Additionally, the program offers an online certificate in peace pedagogy.
The strength of the faculty and thus the current organizing focus of these concentrations is social justice. We seek to critically examine the multidimensional nature of justice and education in a way that explores the basic assumptions, policies, and practices of our educational institutions in order to contribute to the creation of a more just, peaceful, and democratic society and world. We believe that at the core of an education for democracy and justice is the capacity for critical reflection. Reflection is a process of examination and analysis that is significantly informed by an understanding of the phenomena that underlie and contextualize educational ideas, practices and problems. We seek to understand education as it is shaped by social, cultural, and ideological forces in order to enhance the reflective practice and thus decision making of educators, leaders, and scholars.
On this page:
Philosophy of Education: This concentration seeks to provide students with a rigorous methodological and theoretical
training in philosophical research. The general purposes of the program are to foster
the understanding and development of educational theory in the context of the broader
questions of philosophy and to develop the capacity to engage in effective discussion
of theoretical problems pertaining to education, especially educational justice, peace,
History of Education: This concentration seeks to provide students with a rigorous methodological and theoretical training in historical research, so that they acquire and are able to advance a deep understanding of the origins and development of American education within the context of American social and intellectual history. This concentration involves an understanding of the history of social injustice and the political and economic history of the social and educational reproduction of inequality.
Educational Sociology: This concentration seeks to provide students with a rigorous methodological and theoretical training in sociological research. Sociology of education explores the school-society/educational-cultural interface – how socio-cultural forces define the limits and possibilities of schooling and how education impacts society. Of particular interest is an understanding of how social institutions produce injustice/justice, the nature and dynamics of social stratification, an understanding of the dynamics of racial, gendered, and ethnic discrimination, and the nature and development of a pluralistic democratic culture.
Foundations of Education: This concentration seeks to provide students with a rigorous methodological and theoretical training in interdisciplinary research involving sociology, philosophy and history of education.
The following are the three modes of inquiry cultivated within the program:
"The interpretive perspectives use concepts and theories developed within the humanities and the social sciences to assist studnts in examining, understanding, and explaining education within different contexts. Foundational studies promote analysis of the intent, meaning, and effects of educational institutions, including schools. Such studies attend particularly to the diverse contexts within which educational phenomena occur, and how interpretation can vary with different historical, philosophical, and cultural perspectives." (source: Council for Social Foundations of Education at http://www. unm.edu/~jka/csfe/standards96.pdf)
"The normative perspectives assist students in examining and explaining education in light of value orientations. Foundational studies promote understanding of normative and ethical behavior in educational development and recognition of the inevitable presence of normative influences in educational thought and practice. Foundational studies probe the nature of assumptions about education and schooling. They examine the relation of policy analysis to values and the extent to which educational policymaking reflects values. Finally, they encourage students to develop their own value positions regarding education on the basis of critical study and their own reflections." (source: Council for Social Foundations of Education at http://www.unm.edu/~jka/csfe/standards96.pdf)
"The critical perspectives employ normative interpretations to assist students to develop inquiry skills, to question educational assumptions and arrangements, and to identify contradictions and inconsistencies among social and educational values, policies, and practices. In particular, the critical perspectives engage students in employing democratic values to asses educational beliefs, policies, and practices in light of their origins, influences, and consequences." (source: Council for Social Foundations of Education at http://www. unm.edu/~jka/csfe/standards96.pdf)
The following questions constitute broad categories of inquiry that frame the inquiry-based
model of graduate education in the field of Educational Theory and Social Foundations.
- What is the nature of social justice?
- What constitutes educational and social justice in a democracy?
- In what ways and to what degree are American (and other) educational systems just or unjust?
- How is educational and social justice enacted?
- What is the relationship between justice, education, and peace?
- What is the impact of our knowledge of justice and foundations on educational theory, policy, and practice?
- What is the nature of power?
- What is the current and historical distribution of power in American society?
- How should power be distributed in a democratic society?
- What implications does a particular distribution of power have on education and other social institutions?
- What are the power dynamics in schools and classrooms?
- Is there are a relationship between school and classroom power dynamics and those of the larger society?
- How is power exercised in society and in educational institutions?
- What is the relationship between power and justice?
- What is the source(s) of power?
- What is the relationship between power and wealth?
- What is the nature of knowledge?
- What does it mean to know something?
- What is the difference between belief and knowledge?
- Is there a relationship between knowledge and power?
- Are there various ways of knowing and forms of knowledge?
- Is knowledge socially and culturally constructed?
- What knowledge is most valuable?
- In what ways does knowledge define teaching and learning?
- Do race, gender, and ethnicity influence what and how we know?
- What is culture?
- Is reality culturally constructed?
- What is the relationship between power, knowledge, and culture?
- Do schools reflect the culture of the society within which they are situated?
- What constitutes a just response to cultural diversity?
- What is the nature of multicultural education?
- Is justice culturally relative?
- Is there a cultural mismatch between the school and the student’s home life?
- What is the nature of ideology?
- Do all societies have an ideology?
- Is justice defined by ideology?
- What is the relationship between power and ideology?
- Do schools promote ideological hegemony – a dominant ideology?
- What is the relationship between knowledge and ideology?
- Does ideology drive politics?
- Is the curriculum shaped by the dominant ideology?
- Does ideology justify a particular distribution of power and wealth in society? What role does schooling play in this distribution?
- What is the relationship between ideology and religion?
- Is there a relationship between American democracy and imperialism?
- What is the nature of society?
- What is the relationship between social structures and forces and social institutions?
- What is the relationship between power and social structure?
- What is the nature of the school-society interface? Does schooling reflect the nature of the society’s structures?
- What is the nature of the “good” society?
- Are schools social institutions?
- What is the relationship between dominant social institutions (government, economy, media, military-industrial complex, etc.) and educational institutions?
- In what ways are power, knowledge, and ideology institutionalized?
Graduate Certificate in Culture and Change in Institutions - (12 Credit Hours)
The Online Graduate Certificate in Foundations of Peace Education program is designed for educational professionals working in a variety of educational environments, ranging from P-12 schools, community colleges, universities, and non-governmental organizations.