I think people are often confused as to what exactly I'm studying. Most people can wrap their heads around the popular fields of education. Special Education, Education Administration, and Curriculum & Instruction are all popular fields with which people not working in the field of education are familiar. When I tell them that I'm earning a doctorate in Educational Studies, I'm met with blank stares.
What is Educational Studies?
Educational Studies varies from school to school. In fact, in some schools of education, Educational Studies is the umbrella term for many different fields within education. However, at most institutions, Educational Studies is best defined as the social, cultural, philosophical and historical foundations of education. At many universities the field of Educational Studies is called "Social & Cultural Studies in Education," or "Social & Cultural Foundations of Education." The American Educational Studies Association defines its organization as being "primarily comprised of college and university professors who teach and research in the field of education utilizing one or more of the liberal arts disciplines of philosophy, history, politics, sociology, anthropology, or economics as well as comparative/international and cultural studies. The purpose of social foundations study is to bring intellectual resources derived from these areas to bear in developing interpretive, normative, and critical perspectives on education, both inside of and outside of schools". I tend to think of it as applying a philosophical, political, sociological, historical and/or cultural lens to solving complex educational problems.
What will I study?
The emphasis I chose for graduate study is Innovation & Education Reform. Some of the courses I'll take within that area are: Literacy as Social Practice, History of Education Reform & Change, Social Justice in Educational Reform, Social Theories of Learning & Organizational Change and Perspectives on Curriculum. My Educational Studies core includes courses like, Philosophical Foundations of Education and Implementation and Evaluation of Curriculum.
What will I do after graduation?
At this point, I just don't know. In fact, that is so far off my radar that I can't even bring myself to think about it. I want to be able to successfully complete my courses, publish in an educational journal, and write and defend my dissertation. I am most frightened by the dissertation, but I'm hoping my summer seminars will help me to feel more confident. My long term goals include research, teaching future teachers, and making systemic changes to education. However, right now, I'm comfortable in the work I'm doing, and see myself working directly with teachers and students for years to come because I learn the most from them.