Social justice, global perspectives at heart of three new School of Education certificate programs

Students with a passion for connecting with diverse and underserved communities in the United States and around the world will have three new areas of study to explore in the School of Education beginning this fall. 

Spurred by student interest in social justice, development, and global issues, the School’s Department of Educational Policy Studies will roll out three new certificate programs in global cultures and languages, international development, and social justice. 

Lesley Bartlett, chair of the department, said she expects the certificates will pique the interest and serve those majoring in global languages, anthropology, international studies, and political science, among others. She said the programs will equip students to pursue a vast array of service-oriented careers and post-graduation opportunities, from nonprofit and governmental work to teaching English as a second language or serving in the Peace Corps. 

Lesley Bartlett Headshot

The  Global Cultures, Languages, and Education certificate will give students a deeper understanding of language policies and educational systems around the world, and encourage them to think critically about language and literacy. 

“The certificate will prepare UW students to analyze cultural and communicative barriers to educational equity and respectfully and effectively communicate and collaborate across cultures and countries,” Bartlett said. 

Bartlett said the certificate could be an ideal fit for those seeking post-graduation placements in Peace Corps, Americorps, or in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. In 2021, UW-Madison was named one of the top-producing research institutions in the United States for Fulbright awardees. Bartlett pointed out a large portion of those awardees work in the English Teaching Assistant program. She also noted the latest Peace Corps statistics show that 42 percent of corps members work in education. 

With a similar global focus, the International Development and Education certificate “aims to develop a new generation of global education leaders,” Bartlett said.

In that program, students will grapple with some of the complex issues that shape international education policies and practices, including poverty, sustainability, and human rights. They will also examine their own positionality in relation to international development and focus on a contemporary shift toward collaboration, partnership and humility in development work. 

“Graduates of this certificate program will develop the knowledge to engage in reflexive, culturally sensitive and sustainable approaches to improving education development policy, practice, and outcomes,” Bartlett said. 

The program is aimed at preparing students to explore careers in international development education and global service, which could range from employment with governmental and non-governmental organizations to work with educational institutions or community development organizations.

With an eye toward global and domestic issues, the Social Justice and Education certificate will explore the social inequities that shape our schools and broader society, as well as the way educators, students and their communities have historically resisted inequality. 

“This certificate program represents core UW values of relentless curiosity, purposeful action, empathy, humility, reciprocity, and solidarity,” Bartlett said. 

Bartlett said students in the program will gain a deep understanding of how education policy has been used as a tool for both social justice and inequality in the United States and around the world.  The coursework will encourage students to connect classroom ideas to their own lives, current events, and contemporary social issues. 

All three certificates will require 12 credits to complete. 

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