The Social and Cultural Foundations Program is committed to inquiry that examines the relationship of schooling, education, and educational policy to social justice and cultural democracy. The program is an interdisciplinary one, designed to appeal to students seeking alternatives to more specialized or technical programs of study in education. This program is designed to attract educators, leaders, and individuals with bachelor’s degrees who have broad interests in educational policy but who may not be professional educators. This program anticipates that students pursuing this degree will come from a variety of professional backgrounds involving different forms of educational work such as media, private foundations, museums, community organizations, labor unions, higher education, K-12 schools, and others. Reasons for pursuing a Master’s degree in Social and Cultural Foundations in Education include personal and professional enhancement, research for private foundations, adult education and training, preparation for doctoral work for university teaching, careers in higher education, and others.
The program provides students the opportunity to study education, not only as schooling, but broadly as a dynamic cultural and political force that unfolds in a wide range of shifting and overlapping sites of learning. Students will consider education as a dynamic process that shapes social identities and social life as well as the learning of values and beliefs, all of which are central to how people make cognitive and emotional investments and act in the world. As such, education is a significant force in creating, maintaining, and challenging assumptions of neutrality and hierarchies of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and sexual difference. From this perspective, education is an indispensable tool for creating conditions for social justice and democratic life. In this context, students investigate the pedagogical and cultural conditions necessary for supporting the flourishing of human agency and the redefinition of human engagement in social life.
The EPSR faculty bring expertise from a variety of disciplines and fields within educational policy studies: the sociology of education, the philosophy of education, the history of education, the psychology of education and human development, critical pedagogy, cultural studies, feminist studies, urban studies, critical race studies, research methods and more. The faculty also has a diverse range of interests in areas such as globalization, peace and human rights education, social theory and social construction of knowledge; the role of education in the production of inequalities of race, gender, class, sexuality, and language; socially situated theories of learning and teaching; and the role of education in the construction of culture and social identities.
Given the interdisciplinary approach to the study of education of this degree program, students have the opportunity with the approval of their faculty advisor to take at least 20 hours of elective courses outside of the Social and Cultural Foundations in Education Program as well as the College of Education. Choices of electives include, but are not limited to, courses in departments and programs such as Communication, Philosophy, Women’s Studies, American Studies, International Studies, Public Policy, and Sociology.
Students seeking the Master’s degree in Social and Cultural Foundations in Education have the option to also pursue an Illinois initial or subsequent teaching certificate. Please consult your academic advisor as an additional program application may be required.