In the Social and Cultural Foundations program, you will develop an individualized course of study with your adviser, depending on your skills, knowledge, and interests. This will include coursework in other departments of the University of Washington and in other areas of the College of Education; for example, in addition to core work in history and philosophy, students have developed concentrations in women’s studies, ethnic studies, law, policy studies, political philosophy, cultural studies, cognitive studies, and multicultural education. All students must also take coursework in research methods. For Ph.D. students, this includes a required two-quarter Inquiry Course that meets Friday mornings from 8:30 to 10:50 a.m.. 

The M.Ed. in Social and Cultural Foundations requires a minimum of 45 credits, including:

  • EDLPS 520 Education as a Moral Endeavor:  Fall Quarter, Williamson-Lott

      In the United States, “school” is the only compulsory institution in which we must all participate.  Formal schooling developed for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was moral education. Political and educational leaders have battled over the subject since the founding of the Republic, and moral education remains a hot button issue in contemporary times, as we argue who gets to define/choose the morals being taught.  The battle is  so heated because people link education to the creation of the good and just society, a very tall order.   The purpose of this class is to make plain the moral dimensions of schooling.  In doing so, we will engage question such as:  What makes something good or bad, right or wrong?  Are there universal truths and conceptions of good or right--or are they situational/individually/culturally specific?  What do you/we believe MUST be taught or transmitted to the next generation?  What is the ultimate purpose of education for the individual and society?  And, what is your/our conception of the “good” society?

  • EDLPS 530 History of Education:  Winter Quarter, Beadie

      This is a survey course in the history of education. In this course we examine four periods of change or “reform” in the history of U.S. education from the colonial era to the present, and consider what those episodes can teach us about what Americans have tried to achieve through education and how they have succeeded or failed. Core questions we address include: How did schooling become a dominant form of initiating youth into adulthood?  When and how did education become public?  What was "progressivism" and what were its results in practice?  How have different communities endeavored to shape their own educational opportunities and futures?  Ultimately the objective is for students to incorporate these lessons into their own experiences as educators and educational leaders. One way of posing many of the crucial issues in education today is to ask whether the common school ideal is still viable. At the end of this course students will be expected to address this question using good historical evidence and argument.

  • EDLPS 521 Introduction to Philosophy of Education:  Spring Quarter, Kerdeman

      What should be the purposes and aims of education?  What does it mean to be an educated person?  How can we distinguish a person who has been well educated from one who has not?  What is knowledge?  What does it mean to know something?  What knowledge is of most worth, and why?  Who decides?  Are teaching and learning related?  What role should teachers play in classrooms and in other contexts?  What role should the state and society play in education?  What does it mean to espouse and act on an educational philosophy?  These are the sorts of questions that interest philosophers of education in the west.  In this course, we will examine how a range of thinkers spanning two thousand years understand various challenges facing education.  Engaging with these thinkers, you will have a chance to read deeply and critically, participate in conversations with your classmates, and reflect on your own understanding of education.  The questions and perspectives we explore will help students clarify, extend, challenge, and perhaps even change their own educational philosophy and practice.

and one of the following:

  • EDLPS 522 Contemporary Issues in Educational Philosophy: Postmodern Issues in Qualitative Research
  • EDLPS 524 Special topics in Educational Philosophy: Seminar in Gadamer's Hermeneutics
  • EDLPS 538 Education for Liberation
  • EDLPS 539 History of Urban Education

You should carefully review the Program Requirements for details about all components of the M.Ed. course of study. You must also follow the Degree Requirements of the Graduate School; among these are that a course of study should include at least 18 credits at the 500 level or above as well as 18 graded credits.

Doctoral Program:

Ph.D. students work closely with their advisers to create highly tailored programs of study that include intermediate and advanced coursework in Social and Cultural Foundations well as outside coursework to gain broader perspective and deeper insight into specialized topics.
Ph.D. students have specific requirements and milestones that can be viewed here.

• All other prospective students holding relevant master’s degrees should apply to the College of Education’s Ph.D. program.

Graduates of this program work in classrooms and in school and district leadership roles as well as in nonprofit and community organizations. Graduates of the Ph.D. program also work in university faculty positions.