Urban Education PhD Program Proposal

 Additions and Clarifications, March 2000


 Section 4. Final paragraph; the last two sentences have been added:

 Students will be expected to conceptualize their dissertation research in the context of larger, compelling issues in urban education.  Students who have not already had prior teaching experience at a level relevant to the areas their research will address will normally be expected to acquire such experience in the course of their work in the program.  Clusters of focused dissertation studies, coordinated with the continuing research programs of the faculty, will form the basis for continuing study of critical issues in urban education.  Such focused and continuing research has an important role to play in the renewal of urban education.  This focused research approach will aim to integrate work in both curriculum studies and policy studies to provide a genuinely useful research base for the solution of contemporary educational problems.  Examples of such research focus areas are described in the next section. It is not the intent of the program that faculty or student research should be constrained or limited by these focus areas, but rather that the initial focus areas will serve as themes to connect research on a wide variety of issues. We intend to promote productive dialogue among researchers, including doctoral students.


Section 5. Following the opening paragraph, a new subsection has been added:

 Intellectual Challenges and Theoretical Foundations

 The faculty recognizes that, like other new academic fields such as American Studies or Urban Studies, Urban Education must respond to the intellectual challenge of synthesizing from the theoretical and conceptual resources of older disciplines a new disciplinary foundation for itself. We believe that this can only be done in and through concrete and practical research projects on urban education issues, undertaken by the faculty and by our doctoral students. As described elsewhere in this proposal, the faculty bring to the proposed program a rich collection of diverse disciplinary perspectives from the many traditional subfields of Education itself (e.g. science education, humanities education, special education, early childhood education) and from such  partner disciplines such as developmental psychology, linguistics, urban anthropology and sociology, economics and political science. The theoretical resources and long disciplinary traditions of these fields provide the starting point for a new synthesis appropriate to the distinctive issues of Urban Education.

            We believe, moreover, that Urban Education is unique and distinctive in its research problems and intellectual challenges. Modern urban social systems present qualitatively new phenomena that arise from their unique combination of scale, diversity, and complexity. Our approach to Urban Education research is to study students, teachers, curricula, and schools as being deeply embedded in the complex networks of inter-institutional relationships that constitutes urban society. Whether we are concerned with economic, political, cultural, linguistic, or sociological relationships, schools and curricula do not and cannot exist outside such networks. Urban educational systems do not simply share the fact of cultural and linguistic diversity with many smaller communities; they must cope with this diversity on an unprecedented scale in terms of human numbers and numbers of different cultural traditions and languages,  all of which are in close interaction with one another.

            In smaller communities a dozen schools may form a district and complexity arises from their connections to local businesses, political organizations, community groups, and more distant bureaucracies. In the New York public school system there are over a thousand schools and over a million students, and each school is as unique as each student. The economic, political, and civic organizations with which urban schools, school districts, and the system as a whole interacts number in the thousands, and each of them is also unique. The web of connections among all these institutions presents a quantitative degree of complexity unparalleled in other human communities; from that complexity emerges qualitatively different phenomena, issues, and challenges for urban education and those who study it. It is only when we cut a classroom, school, or neighborhood out the essential context of this multi-level, multi-scale network of the urban social system as a whole that they seem to look deceptively like their counterparts in non-urban communities. If we seek to create a research base for effective policy in urban education, we need to fully situate urban schools in the real complexity of our great cities. We need to squarely face the intellectual challenge of developing the new conceptual and methodological tools needed for this task. Our faculty are eager and well prepared to take up this challenge; we and our future doctoral students will learn to meet it together.


Section 5. Following the new subsection, a new subheader and the last two sentences have been added:

 Research Focus Areas: Dialogue Across Studies Specializations

            As a new and relatively small program, we recognize the wisdom of identifying within this broad approach a more limited and well-defined set of initial research priority areas.  These priorities will guide the program in planning and structuring further curriculum development, in faculty and student recruitment, and in formulating initiatives for external funding.  These priorities are not meant to constrain or limit creative and independent research initiatives by program affiliated faculty and students, which will always be supported collegially and to the extent that program resources permit. Neither do we intend these initial focus areas to become specializations within the program; rather, their primary function is provide common themes to bridge across the three studies specializations (AHSS, SMT, Policy) and stimulate collaboration and dialogue within the program’s research and policy analysis community (see section 8 for additional initial research focus areas within each of the three studies specializations).


Section 8. Under Urban Education Policy Studies, add as the new third paragraph:

 The Urban Education program recognizes the need for students who choose a specialization in Policy Studies to possess a strong disciplinary foundation in order to engage in robust policy research, analysis, and development.  Students lacking such preparation in the form of an advanced degree in political science, economics, sociology, history or other social science discipline will therefore be required to undertake, after consultation with their advisor, additional elective courses in a particular relevant discipline, so as to build depth of understanding in a core disciplinary field.


Section 12.

 Participating Faculty, Added:

 John Blamire, Brooklyn College (Biology)

Nehru Cherukupali, Brooklyn College (Geology) and CUNY Graduate Center (EES)

David Gosser, City College and CUNY Graduate Center (Chemistry)

Ezra Shahn, Hunter College (Biology)

William Sweeney, Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center (Biochemistry)

Michael Weiner, City College and CUNY Graduate Center (Chemistry)

 Liaisons to Other Doctoral Programs and Centers, Confirmed:

 Center for Human Environments – Susan Saegert

Stanton-Heiskell Center – Helen Birenbaum



 Core Course Outlines and Bibliographies.

No changes are made to course titles or credits.

 For Core 2 and Core 4 some minor changes have been made to course outlines (and to the description of Core 2) to highlight the focus on diversity in urban education history and in urban schools, curriculum, and pedagogy in the two courses respectively. Additional relevant items are included in each course bibliography.

Revised Core 2 Description, Outline, and Rationale; Bibliography

Revised Core 4 Outline; Bibliography