Educational Foundations and Policy (M.Ed.)

Front of the Education Building

This program (EFP) focuses on diversifying today’s understanding of education and educational policy. The program centers upon sociological, philosophical, and historical frameworks applied to education to understand educational issues past and present. Students in the program will broaden their understanding of the connections between educational spaces and society and will work to become change agents in their schools, workplaces, and communities.

Program Overview

Students from all programs are welcome to enroll in the M.Ed. Educational Foundations and
Policy program. This program is especially important for educators in today’s educational
climate and individuals who want to learn more about historical, sociological, and philosophical
principles in education.

An Educational Foundations and Policy major provides students from all disciplines a better
understanding of history, sociology, philosophy, cultural studies, and political science applied to
education and schooling. This program challenges students to critically examine the
relationships between education and society and begin to utilize their sphere of influence to
affect change. Students will utilize interpretive, normative, and critical perspectives throughout
the program. Normative perspectives are examining issues, policies, and educational practices
using a variety of beliefs and assumptions about education. Student reflection and personal
development is key in this area. Interpretive perspectives are utilizing concepts and theories
from the social sciences and humanities to examine education. Critical perspectives require
students to question and examine various inconsistencies within educational policies, practices,
and values.

Core EFP Requirements (12 Credits)

EDUC 6600 - Sociology of Education 3 Credit(s)

This course provides an overview of the relationship between education and society, with a primary focus on its role in replication, reinforcement, and creation of inequality. Various sociological concepts, methods, and theories will be used to examine both historical and current issues in education such as inequity, social stratification, the “achievement gap,” and social and cultural capital.

This course is designed to challenge and expand what we think we know about education. We will critically engage research in topics such as sociology, education, economics, public policy, and more. Through structured analysis, we will bring academic materials into direct dialogue with structured experiences in community organizations [such as schools] to enrich our understanding of educational issues. The goal is to better understand how "education" works: what shapes educational achievement; where inequalities in educational achievements come from; how and why educational experiences and accomplishments result in better social and economic outcomes; and how educational institutions might be improved. Although this course is primarily created for current or future teachers, others who are engaged in other learning communities or professions will find the course material applicable to other institutions.

EDUC 6610 - Educational Policy and Politics 3 Credit(s)

This course examines the role of politics and public policy in education, focusing primarily on policy models and frameworks, and their application to current policy issues in K-12 schooling utilizing a historic perspective. Students will study theoretical frameworks necessary for understanding public policymaking and the roles that research plays in the policy process. The curriculum includes local, state and federal education policy.

It is important that teachers, pre-service teachers, and other individuals invested in education understand the role of politics in education, so they may feel empowered to become a change agent in education. We will examine federal, state, and local educational policy as it affects educators, parents, students, and society. We will also study political groups and their impact on teaching, learning, and education’s role in society. Our analysis of educational policy will be placed within the framework of the American political system, including federal and state constitutional frameworks, legislative, executive, and judicial decisions, the electoral process, public opinion, and the media. We will utilize multiple analytical frameworks to explore policy purposes, processes, contents and outcomes. Students will also gain experience in analyzing current educational policy through the lens of a chosen framework.

EDUC 6630 - Democracy and Education 3 Credit(s)

This course will explore the connections between democracy and education. The focus will be on critical examination of democratic theory and its implications for the civic education roles and contributions of teachers, individuals engaged in community development, adult educators, community organizers, and others involved in educational endeavors. Students will engage in study of a range of conceptions and understandings of democracy and analyze implications of these different conceptions of democracy for the practical work of education.

The main goal of this course is to create an intellectual space in which connections between democracy and education can be critically examined and imagined. We will survey and critically analyze a range of competing conceptions of democracy, including classical, republican, liberal, radical, Marxist, neo-Marxist, pragmatist, feminist, populist, pluralist, postmodern, and/or participatory. The course will encourage students to deepen their understanding of the in which the concept of democracy has been and is currently theorized, explore the practical implications of different theories of democracy for the practice of education in both formal and non-formal settings (e.g., in schools and communities, and develop and critically analyze “practitioner profiles” that provide accounts of how educators pursue particular civic education curricula, programs and initiatives.

EDUC 6640 - Comparative Education 3 Credit(s) (this class will be changing titles to History of Education in Fall 2023)

This course is an international, cross-cultural examination and analysis of educational issues and reforms in P-16 education. General exploration of major theoretical and methodological issues in comparative and international education will be explored, with a primary focus on aspects of societies that impact the educational system, including, historical, economic, social, political, ethnic and religious forces as they relate to education.

We will begin the course with an overview of cultural and social theories of the structures, purposes, and outcomes of education, examining and analyzing assumptions regarding schooling and international education.

We will examine the following throughout the course

  • The meaning of ‘comparative’ as it relates to P-16 education
  • How cultural, social, economic, historical, and political aspects are replicated, reinforced, or created in schooling
  • Cross-national themes such as social stratification, educational transfer, political and economic development, and education reform

Social Foundations of Education Professional Organizations

Course ID Course Name Semester
EDUC 6600 Sociology of Education Fall
EDUC 6610 Educational Policy and Politics Spring
EDUC 6630 Democracy and Education Summer
EDUC 6640 Comparative Education Summer