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2013-2014 Events

November 2013
Making Room for More Indira Gandhis: The Evolution of Women Leaders in Local Elections
Supriya Baily, Ph.D., George Mason University

View video of the discussion here.

India’s experiment with democracy has been fraught with good intentions, yet the manifestation has been far more complex.

The reservation of legislative seats for historically marginalized groups highlights the desire for change through national policy, yet local level implementation does not always provide the expected results. The fact remains that though women still represent a small minority of elected officials in India, there are national laws promoting both the empowerment of women and the mandated representation of women in local level governance.

Extending the research on women’s empowerment, which has its roots in practice, pushing against society’s oppression of women towards their own self-development, I seek to unpack social relations within the arena of local politics and broaden the discourse emerging from within this cadre of local women leaders.  How do women frame their professional roles as local leaders and national representatives?  In what way do their experiences, status, education, and family support enhance their capacity to navigate through the daily responsibilities of elected representation? What impact do their actions have on the local community, gatekeepers, national level policies and their own development? 

The presentation focuses on these questions using a critical, qualitative framework to better understand the ways in which female elected officials in India perceive of their power; the impact of their voice and agency on the people with whom they work and represent; and the role education takes in making space for them in the realm of public politics.  

About The Speaker
Supriya Baily
is assistant professor in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University.  Dr. Baily's research focuses primarily on the effects non-formal education on women and the communities within which they live.  Working primarily in India and Indonesia, Dr. Baily has spent time in rural regions of these countries to better understand how women and the people around them understand the changing nature of women’s power and identity.  She also studies the role of internationalization in teacher education and policy issues affecting secondary and higher education in emerging countries. Before joining academia, she spent fifteen years working in peace, justice and development organizations and has served as a consultant for the Teachers Foundation, a nonprofit organization in India working to transform teacher’s pedagogy and practice.  Additionally she serves as the Co-Chair of the Gender and Education Committee of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES).  She is the co-editor of the 2012 book Internationalizing Teacher Education in the US. 


December 2013
Tied up in Knots? Gender Mainstreaming, Training and Development in Vietnam

Kristy Kelly, Ph.D., Drexel University
View video of the discussion here.

This presentation/ discussion is about a development policy called gender mainstreaming and how gender equality discourses and practices are engaged, resisted, ignored and otherwise transformed in the process of training in Vietnam.

Findings are based on extensive empirical research conducted between 2006 and 2013, and indicate that it is in the context of training, where experts struggle to give meaning to their work that different visions of gender, equality, and development emerge. As experts mobilize local knowledge about gender and development, they translate and transform everyday experiences of oppression in ways that simultaneously (re)produce and extend the development agenda.  As a result, gender mainstreaming has become embedded in four competing political projects, each vying to control the framing of gender equality debates in Vietnam.

The author calls these projects economic integrationist, transnational feminist, national independence, and cultural preservationist. They occur at interconnected levels of social scale: global, transnational, national, and household. The author finds that it is particularly in the context of training where these projects collide, and where inequalities corresponding to the four policy-linked levels of social scale are made visible. Understanding when and how collisions occur, and how they are managed, given meaning, and resolved, illuminates training as key political space, place and process where development subjects are produced and “expertise” is negotiated.

About The Speaker
Kristy Kelly
is assistant clinical professor and director of School of Education’s Global and International Education Program at Drexel University. Dr. Kelly’s research is situated at the intersection of sociology of gender, anthropology of policy, and the politics of knowledge. She uses gender and education as critical lenses to study social change in Southeast Asia, particularly in post-socialist Vietnam where she has worked since the early 1990s.Before joining academia, Dr. Kelly lived and worked in Hong Kong and Vietnam where she worked for the United Nations and a variety of international education development organizations. She continues to consult for governments and multilateral organizations on gender and development policy issues, serves as a representative to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS), and is a member of the Expert Taskforce to the UN Women’s Global Training Center. Dr. Kelly received a B.A. from Pennsylvania State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

February 2014
Growing Up Poor: The Multifaceted Reach of Poverty Into Youth's Lives & Schooling in Rural NW China
Speaker: Jennifer Adams, Drexel University
View video of the discussion here.

Children from resource-constrained households and communities have gained increasing access to schooling. However, their educational experiences and outcomes remain conditioned by multiple dimensions of poverty. Dr. Jennifer Adams, professor in the School of Education's Ed.D. program, explores the experience of growing up poor as well as the impact of daily poverty on the decisions and behaviors of parents, children, and teachers in her presentation, "Growing Up Poor: The Multifaceted Reach of Poverty Into Youth's Lives & Schooling in Rural Northwest China."

About The Speaker
Jennifer Adams
is an associate clinical professor at Drexel University’s School of Education.  Dr. Adams’ research, building on longstanding interests in education, social inequality, and Chinese society, investigates the effects of poverty, social change and educational policy on the educational experiences and general well-being of children and adolescents in the developing world. Dr. Adams spent more than a decade living in mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong as a university student, primary school teacher, and school director.  She is currently a co-principal investigator on the Gansu Survey of Children and Families, a longitudinal study of 2000 rural children in northwestern China and a consultant for Teach for China. She teaches graduate courses in international education and development, international educational policymaking, educational evaluation, and quantitative research methods.

March 2014
Oaxacan Ceramists and An American Author: A Case Study of Intercultural Communication
Cynthia Weill, Ed.D., Teachers College Columbia University
View video of the discussion here.

After two work experiences that were fraught with issues of intercultural miscommunication and poor partnership with artisans and illustrators in Vietnam and Mexico, Dr. Weill sought to create a non-hierarchical intercultural collaborative model around development of ceramic figures for a children’s book with internationally known ceramists, the Aguilar sisters of Oaxaca, Mexico.

There were three research goals to the partnership.  The first was to understand which behaviors were related to misunderstanding and which to cultural difference.  This knowledge was used to improve partnership and dialogue during the work period and for future projects.  The next goal was to examine how the publication of other books would work to the benefit or detriment of participating artisans.  The final goal was to examine the procedures of authors and artisans who have worked together in Oaxaca as well as perceptions on both sides. The last two goals were used to implement best practices with the ceramists.

The research was structured around a qualitative case study involving five women. Data were collected through interviews, participant observations, journal notes, diaries, logs and artifacts.  In my talk, Dr. Weill will describe the setting and partnership and will note how interactions concerning, aesthetics, intercultural miscommunication, collaboration and gender were analyzed to benefit the working relationship as well as future partnerships in cross-cultural artistic collaboration.

About The Speaker
Cynthia Weill
works in teacher supervision and training at Teachers College Columbia University.  Dr. Weill received her master’s and doctorate degrees from Teachers College and also holds masters degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Wesleyan University. Before joining academia, Dr. Weill worked as a Spanish teacher in the United States and supervised an education department of a major nonprofit organization in Ha Noi, Vietnam. Dr. Weill serves as a board member of the foundation, Friends of Oaxacan Folk Art, an entity seeking to promote and preserve Mexican popular art.  She is the author of six children’s books, with three more scheduled for publication.  She works closely with artisans in Vietnam and Mexico to create the illustrations and artwork for each book.  This artwork and other archival materials have been acquired by The Field Museum of Chicago for its permanent collection. 

April 2014
Community Cultural Wealth: Uyghurs, Social Networks, and Education
Rebecca Clothey, Ph.D., Drexel University

To view an archived video of the discussion, contact Dr. Rebecca Clothey at rac52@drexel.edu

Much of the research about education of minority ethnic groups within a majoritarian country context utilizes a deficit model in which minorities are seen as “lacking” certain skills, economic resources, and/or cultural capital that are readily available to the dominant ethnic group. From this perspective, this “lack” is viewed as a detrimental factor hindering minority students’ successful progress through school.

This presentation moves away from this view by employing Yosso’s framework of ‘community cultural wealth’ to explore the ways in which educated Uyghurs, an ethnic group of some 9 million people who are indigenous to China’s northwest Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, build on social networks like family and friends to improve their own social standing and contribute to the benefit of their communities. Through Yosso’s lens, ethnic minorities have their own cultural capital, which is distinct from the dominant group, and which can also be maximized to garner a successful status within society.

Uyghurs, one of China’s 56 officially recognized ethnic groups, are a linguistic minority within China who speak the Uyghur language, a Turkic language utilizing a modified Arabic script, and most are practicing Moslems. This presentation will show ways in which Uyghurs draw from their own community resources to navigate within a Mandarin-dominant education and economic system, “capitalize” on their language and ethnicity, and also create systems within their own community to support others. The presentation is based on ethnographic fieldwork collected during the fall of 2013 within Xinjiang, where the researcher was a visiting scholar for five months, as well as interviews conducted in Xinjiang and eastern China during multiple visits between the years of 2010-2013.

About The Speaker
Rebecca Clothey
has been a faculty member in Drexel University's School of Education since 2006 when she was hired from a position in Beijing, China.  Her research focuses on access and equity issues in higher education, with a particular interest in education in China, Central Asia, and Turkey. Dr. Clothey has lived in India, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and China, where she spent almost six years. Prior to working at Drexel she had been based at Capital Normal University in Beijing, China; Beijing Institute of Education, and Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu, Sichuan.  In the fall of 2013 she was a visiting scholar at Xinjiang Normal University in Urumqi. She speaks Mandarin and has also studied Uyghur, a language spoken in China’s northwest Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. She served as the Director of Drexel's Global and International Education program from spring 2008 to fall 2011, and Director of Drexel's Higher Education program from spring 2007 to spring 2010.May 20, 2014

May 2014
Women Leading Schools Worldwide: Issues of Access and Practice

Jill Sperandio, Ph.D., Lehigh University
View video of the discussion here.

Women continue to be under represented in the leadership of K-12 schooling in most countries of the world, including the USA, a situation commonly attributed to societal perceptions of gender roles that work against women accessing school leadership positions. School leadership, and the training for this leadership where it exists, has been shaped by male practitioners; women who access school leadership have few female role models or mentors to guide them in critical refection of their leadership style and their potential for advocacy and social justice, particularly with regard to the girl child. This presentation and discussion will offer opportunities to consider best practice in preparing women for leadership and measures that could be adopted to ensure their equal representation in leadership and decision-making at the school level worldwid

About The Speaker
Following a career in teaching and school leadership in international schools worldwide, Jill Sperandio is an associate professor in the educational leadership program in the College of Education, Lehigh University, teaching graduate courses in organizational structure and change, qualitative research, and teacher supervision and professional development. Dr. Sperandio’s research is focused on social justice issues connected with women’s access to the leadership of K-12 schooling internationally. She has conducted fieldwork in Uganda, Bangladesh, India, Ghana, and most recently in Pennsylvania where she has examined women’s progress to the school district superintendency. She has published numerous book chapters and articles, including several in Gender and Education. Dr. Sperandio is a founding member of Women Leading Education across Continents (WLE).

June 2014
Resistance in Moldova: Teachers, Textbooks and Social Memory
Elizabeth Worden, Ph.D., American University

Public debates about the content of history textbooks happen all over the world. How the national story is told and who is included in this story matters to politicians, scholars, educators, and the public alike. These groups believe that history textbooks are important tools in the upbringing of a nation's youth. Often, as in the cases of the United States or Germany, a textbook's content, political bias, or tone is debated while the underlying tenants of a nation's story or identity remain largely uncontested. And this is where the case of the Republic of Moldova gets interesting. In post-Soviet Moldova, recent textbook debates center on the very question of what counts as the Moldovan nation.

Drawing on five years of qualitative research, the Dr. Worden argues that Moldovan history textbooks are only one of many tools from which history teachers teach about the past. Official historical narratives—i.e. history textbooks—might not reflect the ways in which Moldovans perceive of their nation or themselves. In fact, history teachers' social memory runs counter to the history textbooks. This memory is an amorphous yet persistent force that influences national belonging and identity, and challenges the state's attempt to create a new nation through the teaching of history. The lessons from the Moldovan case question the importance that is placed on history textbooks. While politicians and educators across the globe are clamoring to revise history textbooks with the belief that inclusive narratives can lead to reconciliation or greater social equality, the Moldovan case reminds us that textbooks are only one part of citizenry's understanding of their nation and its history.

About The Speaker
Elizabeth Anderson Worden
is an associate professor of international education at American University in Washington, DC. Her primary research examines how governments foster identities and belonging through formal education during social and political transition. Dr. Worden's book National Identity and Education Reform: Contested Classrooms (Routledge 2014) examines the role of social memory and teaching history in the development of national identity in Post-Soviet Moldova. She has published articles in Compare: A Journal of Comparative Education, Journal of European Education, and Comparative Education Review. Dr. Worden's larger research interests include history teaching, history textbooks, memory, citizenship education, nationalism and national identity, and international exchange.