Colloquium Proposes Education Major
Issue   |   Wed, 04/06/2016 - 01:06
Sophia Salazar '18
Students attended the “Imagining Education Studies” open forum on April 4 in Keefe Campus Center. The event was intended to solicit student feedback on a proposal for an education studies major program.

Students in the “Imagining Education Studies” colloquium held an open forum to gather student feedback regarding a potential education studies major at the College on Monday, April 4.

The event began with students from the colloquium “Imagining Education Studies,” a course, briefly introducing its contents. The curriculum required students to examine the history, philosophies and institutions involved in education and schooling using community-based learning along with standard coursework.

The colloquium’s objective was for the students to work with professor of history and black studies Hilary Moss and director of the career center’s education professions program Robert Siudzinski to create a proposal for an education studies major program that would be submitted to the faculty’s Committee for Educational Policy. According to Anna Vuong ’18, a student in the colloquium, dean of the faculty Catherine Epstein tasked Moss with creating the proposal two years ago.

The student members said that the main goal of the event was to receive input from the student body regarding the relationship between education studies and Amherst’s liberal arts curriculum. According to the students leading the event, many of Amherst’s peer institutions have an education studies major, while Amherst does not. They also said that there is a high demand for education studies in the student body, citing education as the second most popular field into which Amherst graduates enter as well as the variety of special topics and interdisciplinary courses that have been developed according to students’ growing demands.

After the introduction and overview of the event, attendees broke off into smaller focus groups to participate in a group activity in which they were asked to draw a representation of what education meant to them and discuss that vision with their group. Each group discussed specific questions regarding why they attended the event and their thoughts about an education studies program at Amherst. They then broke up the small groups and shared their discussions with the other attendees of the event.

At the end, participants were given the opportunity to mingle with the event organizers and share their thoughts. In addition, students from the colloquium hosted a photoshoot to create an image bank of education studies supporters.

“There are very few classes that I’ve seen which have allowed students to explore education itself as an institution,” Vuong said. “I think what I want others to know about education studies is that it’s explorative and reflective by nature, which is the core of what’s in the Amherst strategic plan. The study of education itself is a liberal endeavor, because education is supposed to be liberating one’s mind and expanding one’s personal growth. So, creating and fostering this sense of education is the aim of our class.”

Athri Ranganathan ’16, another event organizer, said, “Regarding tonight’s event, its purpose was to inform Amherst students about our class’ recent brainstorming and research, and understand what they would like to see within an education studies program.”

The students and instructors of the colloquium, as well as other students involved in creating the education studies proposal, plan on using the feedback collected during this event to present an education studies proposal to the administration.

“Our next big event is a proposal presentation to the Committee on Educational Policy at the end of the semester,” Ranganathan said. “We are cautiously optimistic that the CEP meeting will unfold substantial steps towards an Amherst College education studies program, but know the process at hand is a long one.”

Gabriela Vieira ’16, another student in the colloquium, added that they are still conducting research to finalize the proposal.

“The exact contents of our proposal are still in the process of being developed by the class and our facilitators, Professor Hilary Moss and Robert Siudzinski of the career center,” Vieira said. “We are currently in the process of gathering data through interviews on campus, in the Five Colleges and at peer institutions. In addition, we have been visiting the archives, reading relevant content and working with Jesse Barba in Institutional Research to gather existing information.”
Vieira expressed her optimism about the potential of having an education studies major at the college.

“I firmly believe that an Education Studies program can eventually find a home at Amherst,” she said. “But it will only happen through the continued support and participation of Amherst students who are passionate about education.”