Education and Society Minor Course List

To view a spreadsheet of courses being offered during the Spring 2021 academic quarter, click here.

The following is a list of courses eligible to be counted towards the Education and Society Minor in the College, organized by department of program of study. In addition, students in the College may petition for education-related courses not included on this list to be counted towards the Minor.

**The courses listed below represent the entire range of courses taught in recent years which are eligible for the Minor. Not all of these courses will be offered by their respective departments in a given academic year. 

Comparative Human Development

CHDV 20100. Human Development Research Designs in Social Sciences (=PSYC 21100)

Instructor: Varies, often taught by Guanglei Hong or Anna Mueller

This course aims to expose students to a variety of examples of well-designed social research addressing questions of great interest and importance. One goal is clarify what it means to do “interesting” research. A second goal is to appreciate the features of good research design. A third goal is to examine the variety of research methodologies in the social sciences, including ethnography, clinical case interviewing, survey research, experimental studies of cognition and social behavior, behavior observations, longitudinal research, and model building. The general emphasis is on what might be called the aesthetics of well-designed research. 

CHDV 20207. Race, Ethnicity, and Human Development (=CRES 20207)
Instructor: Margaret Beale Spencer

Twenty-first century practices of relevance to education, social services, health care and public policy deserve buttressing by cultural and context linked perspectives about human development as experienced by diverse groups. Although generally unacknowledged as such post-Brown v. 1954, the conditions purported to support human development for diverse citizens remain problematic. The consequent interpretative shortcomings serve to increase human vulnerability. Specifically, given the problem of evident unacknowledged privilege for some as well as the insufficient access to resources experienced by others, the dilemma skews our interpretation of behavior, design of research, choice of theory, and determination of policy and practice. The course is based upon the premise that the study of human development is enhanced by examining the experiences of diverse groups, without one group standing as the “standard” against which others are compared and evaluated. Accordingly, the course provides an encompassing theoretical framework for examining the processes of human development for diverse humans while also highlighting the critical role of context and culture.

Prerequisite: Students should have one course in either Human Development or Psychology.

CHDV 20209. Adolescent Development (=PSYC 20209)
Instructor: Margaret Beale Spencer

Adolescence represents a period of unusually rapid growth and development. At the same time, under the best of social circumstances and contextual conditions, the teenage years represent a challenging period. The period also affords unparalleled opportunities with appropriate levels of support. Thus, the approach taken acknowledges the challenges and untoward outcomes, while also speculates about the predictors of resiliency and the sources of positive youth development.

CHDV 20305. Inequality in Urban Spaces (=PBPL 20305, CRES 20305)

Instructor: Micere Keels

The problems confronting urban schools are bound to the social, economic, and political conditions of the urban environments in which schools reside. Thus, this course will explore social, economic, and political issues, with an emphasis on issues of race and class as they have affected the distribution of equal educational opportunities in urban schools. We will focus on the ways in which family, school, and neighborhood characteristics intersect to shape the divergent outcomes of low- and middle-income children residing with any given neighborhood. Students will tackle an important issue affecting the residents and schools in one Chicago neighborhood.

*Please note that only one of the two courses CHDV 20305 “Inequality in Urban Spaces” and CHDV 20409 “Inequality in Education” may be counted towards the minor.

CHDV 20409. Inequality in Education: Theory, Policy, and Practice

Instructor: Micere Keels

Problems confronting urban schools are bound to the social, economic, and political conditions of the urban environments in which schools reside. This course will explore social, economic, and political issues, with an emphasis on issues of race and class as they have affected the distribution of equal educational opportunities in urban schools. We will focus on the ways in which family, school, and neighborhood characteristics intersect to shape the divergent outcomes of low- and middle-income children residing with any given neighborhood. Students will tackle an important issue affecting the residents and schools in one Chicago neighborhood.

*Please note that only one of the two courses CHDV 20305 “Inequality in Urban Spaces” and CHDV 20409 “Inequality in Education” may be counted towards the minor.

CHDV 44220. Schools as a Social Context

Instructor: Anna Mueller

Education plays a fundamental role in society, both because it determines individuals’ life chances and because it has the power to reproduce or ameliorate inequality in society. In this course, we will discuss theoretical and empirical research that examines how schools both perpetuate socioeconomic inequality and provide opportunities for social mobility. We will pay particular attention to the role of schools in the intergenerational transmission of social status, especially based on race, class, gender, and immigrant status and with an emphasis on the U.S. We will also discuss the social side of schools, delving into (1) the role of adolescent culture(s) in youths’ educational experiences and human development and (2) social psychological aspects of schooling. Schools are the primary extra-familial socializing institution that youth experience; thus, understanding how schools work is central to understanding the very structure of societies as well as how youth transition into adulthood.

**This course is not slated to be offered in any future academic quarters, but students who previously took the course may count it towards the Minor requirements. 


Education and Society

EDSO 23001. From the State House to the School House: Educational Policy and Student Achievement

Instructor: C. Abelmann

This course will look at both school based reform efforts and efforts to reform schools using policy instruments both from the state house and the limited role of the Federal government. There will be a greater focus on high school reform in particular looking at the small school movement and charters as well as reform examples from states and school districts. The conceptual frame for the class will be understanding the core of teaching and learning using a definition of instructional capacity as lens to see where and how school reform affects the learning outcomes. Students will be exposed to both quantitative and qualitative studies and formal evaluations of reform efforts. A core question of the class will also be to ask education for what purpose and how do we measure results and compare to others in a national and international context. 

EDSO 23002. Schooling and Identity

Instructor: L. Rosen

This course examines the dynamic relations between schooling and identity. We will explore how schools both enable and constrain the identities available to students and the consequences of this for academic achievement. We will examine these relations from multiple disciplinary perspectives, applying psychological, anthropological, sociological, and critical theories to understanding how students not only construct identities for themselves within schools, but also negotiate the identities imposed on them by others. Topics will include the role of peer culture, adult expectations, school practices and enduring social structures in shaping processes of identity formation in students and how these processes influence school engagement and achievement. We will consider how these processes unfold at all levels of schooling, from preschool through college, and for students who navigate a range of social identities, from marginalized to privileged. 

EDSO 23003. Social Inequality and Urban School Reform

Instructor: L. Rosen

This course examines the social, political and historical contexts that have shaped the contemporary urban high school and why this institution has proven so resistant to change. We will examine why high schools are designed the way they are, how well this design meets the developmental needs of adolescents, and what scholars have learned from previous efforts at high school improvement. At the heart of the course is a concern with how urban high schools reconcile the imperatives of adolescent cognitive development, identity formation, and socialization with the need to prepare students to succeed in a rapidly changing economy in which cognitive skills are increasingly essential for upward mobility. Drawing on historical analyses, organizational and social theory, and theories of learning and adolescent development, we will examine how both past and present high school reform efforts have sought to meet these challenges.


EDSO 23004. Ethnography of Children and Childhood

Instructor: L. Rosen

This course examines children and childhood through the lens of social and cultural theory, drawing on ethnographic research from anthropology, cultural psychology, sociology, and cultural studies. While our primary focus is on the United States, course readings will also consider how childhood in the U.S. differs from childhood in other times and places, using a cross-cultural, comparative approach to historicize and theorize the study of childhood. Through course readings, films and assignments, we will examine ethnographic data on children playing, learning and constructing meaning through social interaction; examine questions of children’s agency and rights; and consider children as both producers and consumers of culture. We will explore childhood as both a discursive and social category deployed by adults (especially in debates over policies and practices related to education, child welfare and parenting) and a distinctive life stage characterized by specific developmental challenges for children themselves. We will consider children as active agents who construct meaning out of their experiences and also how these experiences are shaped by differences of gender, race, class, nationality, ethnicity and immigration status. We will also discuss the methodological, theoretical and ethical issues that arise when working with children and youth as subjects of ethnographic research.


EDSO 23005. Education and Social Inequality

Instructor: L. Rosen

How and why do educational outcomes and experiences vary across student populations? What role do schools play in a society’s system of stratification? How do schools both contribute to social mobility and to the reproduction of the prevailing social order? This course examines these questions through the lens of social and cultural theory, engaging current academic debates on the causes and consequences of social inequality in educational outcomes. We will engage these debates by studying foundational and emerging theories and examining empirical research on how social inequalities are reproduced or ameliorated through schools. Through close readings of anthropological and sociological case studies of schooling in the U.S, students will develop an understanding of the structural forces and cultural processes that produce inequality in neighborhoods and schools, how they contribute to unequal opportunities, experiences, and achievement outcomes for students along lines of race/ethnicity, class, gender, and immigration status, and how students themselves navigate and interpret this unequal terrain. We will cover such topics as neighborhood and school segregation; peer culture; social networks; elite schooling; the interaction between home, society and educational institutions; and dynamics of assimilation for students from immigrant communities.

EDSO 23006. The Urban High School: History, Policy, and Reform

Instructor: L. Rosen

This course provides an introduction to the social, political and historical contexts that have shaped contemporary urban schooling, focusing on the role of urban schools in reproducing and/or disrupting enduring patterns of social inequality. We will examine a range of contemporary and past efforts to reform urban schools in order to improve educational outcomes and opportunities for disadvantaged students, especially low-income students of color from marginalized communities. Key questions the course will examine include: What are the particular challenges of teaching and learning in urban schools? What causes schools—and school systems—to fail and what supports them to succeed? What are the distinctive characteristics of high schools that make them especially resistant to change? What is the role of school districts in providing the infrastructure necessary for school improvement? What are the most promising strategies for reducing social inequality in educational achievement and why have they proven so difficult to implement on a large scale? We will use studies of school reform efforts in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago as a focus for examining these questions, considering the contributions of sociological, anthropological, and organizational theories as well as research on learning and child development.


EDSO 23007. Language, Culture, and Education

Instructor: L. Rosen

In this course, we will examine current theories and research about differential educational achievement in US schools, including: (1) theories that focus on the characteristics of people (e. g., their biological makeup, their psychological characteristics, their human nature, their essential qualities), (2) theories that focus on the characteristics of groups and settings, (e. g., ethnic group culture, school culture) and (3) theories that examine how cultural processes mediate political-economic constraints and human action. We will discuss the educational consequences of these positions, especially for low income and ethnic and linguistic minority students in the US.

EDSO 23008 Approaches to K-12 Teaching and Learning: Critical Issues in Urban Education (=CHDV 27822)

Instructor: A. Seeskin

This class will explore contemporary approaches to K-12 teaching and learning, looking at how the theoretical foundations that ground each approach lead to different perspectives on the purpose of public education, what students should learn, and how teacher should teach. The class will put these approaches in conversation with one another, exploring areas of agreement and conflict. Students will learn to observe and analyze classroom instruction, and hear firsthand from local practitioners about how each approach manifests in schools.  For students interested in K-12 education, this class will provide a helpful survey of some of the current debates around teaching and learning in public education.  

EDSO 27919. Research in School Improvement

Instructor: E. Allensworth and D. Johnson

Research evidence and data play an increasingly important and complex role in efforts to reform under-performing school systems in the United States.  Both education policy and practice increasingly rely on sophisticated understandings of a dynamic interplay of complex organizations, systems, and policymaking.  This course introduces students to cutting edge models for using research and data public school reform efforts, including examples of randomized control trials, district-based research, research-practice partnerships, and quality improvement strategies.  The course includes concrete illustrations of research that reshaped educational practice drawn from the UChicago Consortium on School Research.

EDSO 33009. Research Practice Partnerships in Education

Instructor: E. Allensworth

Research and data are vital for educational improvement, yet researchers often wonder why their findings are not used in practice while policymakers and practitioners long for useful information to guide their work. Research-practice partnerships provide a mechanism for producing research that is relevant to decision-making and useful to practice. They focus research on questions that are immediately pressing to practice, incorporate practitioner knowledge, and communicate findings in ways that are attentive to the broader political context in which educators work. In this class, we will examine the ways in which data and research are used in policy and practice. We will consider the various conceptual models that exist around the production and use of research, and the realities of how those models operate in practice. We will learn about different approaches to conducting research-practice partnerships, and examine particular examples of work—considering how the work was done, what was learned, and how the research was used in policy or practice. The course will also consider the challenges involved in developing and maintaining research-practice partnerships, and structures that can facilitate the work.


ECON 26700. Economics of Education
Instructor: Derek Neal

This course explores economic models of the demand for and supply of different forms of schooling. The course examines the markets for primary, secondary, and post-secondary schooling. The course examines numerous public policy questions, such as the role of government in funding or subsidizing education, the design of public accountability systems, the design of systems that deliver publicly funded (and possibly provided) education, and the relationship between education markets and housing markets.

Prerequisite: ECON 21020 or ECON 21030

History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine (HIPS)

HIPS 23000. The Organization of Knowledge

Instructor: W. Sterner

This course explores several structures of knowledge that students may have encountered in their core and specialized education, with the goal of enabling students to identify and explore the implications of these different structures. We ask whether all knowledge is relative, and if so, to what? When things are structured differently, does that mean that knowledge is lost? Or are there several diverse ways of structuring knowledge, each of which may be viable? We read a wide range of classical and modern thinkers in various disciplines.

Public Policy 

PBPL 25120. Child Development and Public Policy (=CHDV, PSYC 25120)

Instructor: A. Kalil

The goal of this course is to introduce students to the literature on early child development and explore how an understanding of core developmental concepts can inform social policies. This goal will be addressed through an integrated, multidisciplinary approach. The course will emphasize research on the science of early child development from the prenatal period through school entry. The central debate about the role of early experience in development will provide a unifying strand for the course. Students will be introduced to research in neuroscience, psychology, economics, sociology, and public policy as it bears on questions about “what develops?”, critical periods in development, the nature vs. nurture debate, and the ways in which environmental contexts (e.g., parents, families, peers, schools, institutions, communities) affect early development and developmental trajectories. The first part of the course will introduce students to the major disciplinary streams in the developmental sciences and the enduring and new debates and perspectives within the field. The second part will examine the multiple contexts of early development to understand which aspects of young children’s environments affect their development and how those impacts arise. Throughout the course, we will explore how the principles of early childhood development can guide the design of policies and practices that enhance the healthy development of young children, particularly for those living in adverse circumstances, and thereby build a strong foundation for promoting equality of opportunity, reducing social class disparities in life outcomes, building human capital, fostering economic prosperity, and generating positive social change. In doing so, we will critically examine the evidence on whether the contexts of children’s development are amenable to public policy intervention and the costs and benefits of different policy approaches.

PBPL 25405. Child Poverty and Chicago Schools (=CRES 25405)

Instructor: Chad Broughton

This discussion- and debate-based course begins with a sociological and historical examination of child poverty, focusing on its origin, experience, and perpetuation in disadvantaged Chicago communities. Class meetings will involve debating school reform efforts, such as “turnaround” schools, charter schools, Promise Neighborhoods, and stepped-up teacher evaluations. Further, the barriers that have contributed to the failure of previous reform initiatives-barriers that include social isolation, violence, and the educational system itself-will be identified and analyzed in-depth.

PBPL 25860. Crime, Justice, and Inequality in the American City (=SOCI 20255)

Instructor: Ariel Kalil

We will study the social and policy contexts aimed at promoting the development, health, and well-being of young children, with an emphasis on our host nation and the European Union. Topics to be covered include family policies such as fertility and related family planning policies; marriage and family formation; policies targeting working parents (i.e. parental leave); income support policies for lone or low-income parents; as well as child care and early education programs targeted directly to children.

Prerequisite: Acceptance into the Barcelona Public Policy Program

PBPL 26203. Public Policy Practicum: Interview Project on Urban Education

Instructor: Chad Broughton

This one-quarter practicum in qualitative methods aims to develop interview research skills, including instrument design, questioning, transcription, thematic analysis, and write-up, in the context of a mini-BA thesis trial run. The topic of this version of the practicum is urban education. Students will engage in weekly in-class interviews with informants with wide-ranging vantage points on education as a social and policy issue including community members, scholars, and policy-makers. Meant to prepare Public Policy Studies students for the BA thesis process, each student, using the weekly in-class interviews conducted by students and supplemented by interviews and observations of their own, will formulate a question related to urban education and construct the component parts of their own research paper, which they will submit at the end of the quarter.

PBPL 27821. Urban Schools and Communities

Instructor: W. Kennedy

This course focuses on schools located in communities, neighborhoods, cities, and systems that are often referred to as ‘urban.’ The term ‘urban’ is highly contested, and its definition is often highly dependent on the standpoint of the speaker and/or the audience. Similarly, ‘school,’ does not have a simple or shared cultural definition. A study of ‘urban’ ‘schools,’ therefore, requires a deep examination of both the history and purpose of schooling as well as an inquiry into the changing relationship between schools and urban centers in the US. With a heavy focus on our city, Chicago, this course is an invitation to consider the ways that schools and their communities are and are not in dialogue with one another.

PBPL 27809. Violence in the Early Years
Instructor: Anjali Adukia

This course will address issues related to children’s exposure to violence. Classes will cover topics including, but not limited to, the history of violence against children (infanticide, etc), children’s literature, parental violence towards children, school-related violence, practices such as female genital mutilation, and other policy-relevant issues related to violence in children’s lives. We will analyze policies and reforms, review relevant research on each topic, and examine implications of the findings to policy and practice.

PBPL 28350. Education and Development: Policy and Research
Instructor: Anjali Adukia

This course covers policy issues related to education in developing contexts. We will analyze education policies and reforms, review relevant research on each topic, and examine implications of the findings to policy and practice. Topics include understanding factors that influence educational decisions, provision of basic needs in schools, teacher pay and incentives, school choice, discrimination and inclusion in education, early childhood education, and education in emergency settings. We will often have guest speakers who are working in policy and practice share their on-the-ground experiences followed by a class-led discussion about related academic papers.

Prerequisite: A microeconomics course and a statistics course. This course is intended for third- and fourth-year students; first-year students not admitted; second-year students require instructor consent.


PHIL 22819. Philosophy of Education (=CHDV, PLSC 22819)

Instructor: Bart Schulz

What are the aims of education?  Are they what they should be, for purposes of cultivating flourishing citizens of a liberal democracy?  What are the biggest challenges—philosophical, political, cultural, and ethical—confronting educators today, in the U.S. and across the globe?  How can philosophy help address these?  In dealing with such questions, this course will provide an introductory overview of both the philosophy of education and various educational programs in philosophy, critically surveying a few of the leading ways in which philosophers past and present have framed the aims of education and the educational significance of philosophy.  From Plato to the present, philosophers have contributed to articulating the aims of education and developing curricula to be used in various educational contexts, for diverse groups and educational levels.  This course will draw on both classic and contemporary works, but considerable attention will be devoted to the work and legacy of philosopher/educator John Dewey, a founding figure at the University of Chicago and a crucial resource for educators concerned with cultivating critical thinking, creativity, character, and ethical reflection.  The course will also feature field trips, distinguished guest speakers, and opportunities for experiential learning.


PSYC 20250. Introduction to Statistical Concepts and Methods

Instructor: TBD

Psychological research is a project of understanding the ways in which people are similar while grappling with the ways in which they are different. Statistical methods are a powerful tool for managing the tension between the two. This course introduces the statistical methods most commonly used in psychology, as well as their use in the R programming language. Topics involve exploratory data analysis, sampling and randomization, and hypothesis testing.

PSYC 20400. Cognitive Psychology

Instructor: Varies, often taught by M. Rosenberg or M. Berman

Viewing the brain globally as an information processing or computational system has revolutionized the study and understanding of intelligence. This course introduces the theory, methods, and empirical results that underlie this approach to psychology. Topics include categorization, attention, memory, knowledge, language, and thought.

PSYC 20500. Developmental Psychology (=CHDV 25900)

Instructor: Katherine O’Doherty

This is an introductory course in developmental psychology, with a focus on cognitive and social development in infancy through early childhood. Example topics include children’s early thinking about number, morality, and social relationships, as well as how early environments inform children’s social and cognitive development. Where appropriate, we make links to both philosophical inquiries into the nature of the human mind, and to practical inquiries concerning education and public policy.

PSYC 22580. Child Development in the Classroom

Instructor: Katherine O’Doherty

This discussion-based, advanced seminar is designed to investigate how preschool and elementary students think, act, and learn, as well as examine developmentally appropriate practices and culturally responsive teaching in the classroom. This course emphasizes the application of theory and research from the field of psychology to the realm of teaching and learning in contemporary classrooms. Course concepts will be grounded in empirical research and activities geared towards understanding the nuances and complexities of topics such as cognitive development (memory, attention, language), early assessment systems, standardized testing, “mindset”, “grit”, exercise/nutrition, emotion regulation, and more.

PSYC 23200. Introduction to Language Development
Instructor: Susan Goldin-Meadow

This course addresses the major issues involved in first-language acquisition. We deal with the child’s production and perception of speech sounds (phonology), the acquisition of the lexicon (semantics), the comprehension and production of structured word combinations (syntax), and the ability to use language to communicate (pragmatics).

PSYC 23800. Introduction to Learning and Memory

Instructor: D. Gallo

This course examines basic questions in learning and memory. We discuss the historical separation and division of these two areas as well as the paradigmatic differences in studying learning and memory. We also discuss basic research methods for investigating learning and memory and survey established and recent research findings, as well as consider several different kinds of models and theories of learning and memory. Topics include skill acquisition, perceptual learning, statistical learning, working memory, implicit memory, semantic vs. episodic memory, and memory disorders.


SOCI 20192. The Effects of Schooling

Instructor: R. Stolzenberg

From at least the Renaissance until some time around the middle of the twentieth century, social class was the pre-eminent, generalized determinant of life chances in European and, eventually, American societies. Social class had great effect on one’s social standing; economic well-being; political power; access to knowledge; and even longevity, health, and height. In that time, there was hardly an aspect of life that was not profoundly influenced by social class. In the ensuing period, the effects of social class have receded greatly, and perhaps have even vanished. In their place formal schooling has become the great generalized influence over who gets access to the desiderata of social life, including food, shelter, political power, and medical care. So it is that schooling is sociologically interesting for reasons that go well beyond education. The purpose of this course is to review what is known about the long-term effects of schooling.

School of Social Service Administration

SSAD 21000. Race and American Public Schools

Instructor: Eve Ewing

This course explores the fundamental role that race and racism have played in the structure, stratification, and social functioning of American public schools. Working from a historical perspective that then moves into contemporary policy challenges, we will use both theoretical and empirical texts to explore questions of identity, otherness, and justice. What can the histories of black and indigenous schooling reveal about the educational project of the nation? How does the notion of whiteness as property shape public presumptions about what makes a “good” school? How have attitudes toward immigrant students changed as demographic and migration patterns have shifted? Perhaps most fundamentally, can schools be engines for racial justice, and if so, how?

SSAD 63412. Cultural Studies in Education

Instructor: Shantá Robinson

The course begins with an introduction to the history, development, and basic tenets of cultural studies. Throughout our work together, we will examine how social class, race/ethnicity, and gender are represented in literacy, language, and cultural theories and research that examine reproduction and resistance.Using cultural studies as the point of departure, this course explores the intersection of culture, power, and language (both oral and written) within schools and school systems. In accordance with the tenets of cultural studies, the course is guided by the presumption that culture (as it is realized through the functioning of schools and their agents and the experiences, knowledge, expressions, dispositions, and meaning-making of people of color, women, and low-income or working class individuals) is critical for understanding and intervening in the reproduction of social and economic inequality. In order to understand the reproduction of inequality we will examine theories and empirical investigations that explore how structures of domination and subordination are reproduced and social difference and inequality are reinscribed through the cultural practices that are reflected in schools. We will also analyze the extent to which the cultural practices and experiences of marginalized individuals simultaneously contribute to the process of reproduction and also affirm the emancipatory possibilities of resistance.