The Social and Cultural Foundations program addresses fundamental questions about the meaning, purpose, and significance of education in society. It explores education from the perspective of the humanities and liberal arts, using tools of analysis based in history and philosophy.

History: Students approach the subject in a variety of ways. You may study the history of educational ideas or the history of educational practices within and among different social groups. You can understand the concept of education broadly, as the transfer of culture, or you can focus more narrowly on education as institutionalized in schools. In any case, historians all analyze education in context, considering its significance in a particular place and time.

Philosophy: You will pursue a variety of questions, including the nature of knowledge and understanding (epistemology and hermeneutics), education and the achievement of certain social aims and values (political and moral philosophy), and the meaning of certain common educational notions and concepts such as social justice and  democratic education. Philosophers consider the scope of education to be much broader than schooling itself.

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While many students complete graduate work in Social and Cultural Foundations in order to become professors in a college or university, others often pursue new careers or enrich existing ones in a variety of other educational contexts, including P-12 policy advocacy, teaching in P-12 schools, and work in educational foundations and social justice movements.

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