This intellectually engaging, novel, and applied course engages students in comparative analyses of the relationships between schools, communities and policy facing economic and demographic changes similar to those in Upstate NY. Ireland, Scotland, Whales and Upstate NY (and many other rural regions of the US) have each witnessed dramatic loss of population due to outmigration, increased pressure on local governments and school closure. At the heart of each case is a targeted focus on the intersection of local public schools, community and economic vitality, and public policy aimed at enhancing educational opportunity. In addition to sociological and policy readings, we will capitalize on relationships with government officials, data archivists and researchers in these four countries, and "invite" these partners into our classroom via electronic means.
Combine and assess the literature on community vitality, community development, and policy implementation and write analyses incorporating these literatures.
Construct connections (positive and negative) between major local institutions (e.g., schools, hospitals) and community vitality and engage in discussions with representatives from these institutions.
Build on major models of school reform, with special attention to those impacting local communities in positive and negative ways in their course term project in multiple countries.
Read and explore primary source documents related to federal, state, and local laws, regulations, court decisions, etc.
Investigate the many and sometimes conflicting sociological functions of American Schools (e.g., socialization, reproduction and stratification of society, training for business and industry, caretaking).
Explore and analyze available data that can be used for policy and community analyses.
Incorporate organizational behavior of educational organizations (e.g., the maintenance of traditional organizational forms or the creation of new organizational arrangements) when they study or work with such organizations.
Evaluate how schools respond to the multitude of societal, private, and governmental pressures.
Reflect on their own schooling and what role they can play in the future of school improvement