Programs in the Literacy, Culture, and International Education Division take seriously the notion that education is a deeply social, cultural, political, and moral activity. While emphasizing different aspects or manifestations of education, each program provides a critical and inter-disciplinary framework for understanding educational processes and engaging in educational practice. Our faculty and students focus on these issues through multiple lenses, examining topics in the U.S., the world beyond U.S. borders, or transnational movements that cross state boundaries.


Students in the LCIE programs join a vibrant intellectual community led by a nationally recognized faculty with strong research and scholarly interests in a variety of fields and disciplines. Rooted in the humanities and social sciences, the Division is truly interdisciplinary, bringing together historians, scholars in literacy studies, educators, sociocultural anthropologists, philosophers, and experts on international education.

Programs in the Division help students appreciate the central role of education in our complex and changing world. Courses consider how local educational processes and practices are shaped by broader social and cultural, political and economic influences, as well as how moral, ethical, and political commitments lie at the heart of educational purposes. To this end, there are three distinct, but interrelated academic programs within the Division.

With a strong emphasis on social sciences and the humanities, Education, Culture and Society (ECS) focuses on the historical, political, philosophical and sociocultural foundations of education. Students learn to engage in educational research using ethnographic, historical, and philosophical modes of inquiry. With their advisor, students develop a course of study that is flexible, individualized, and often centered in an academic discipline. ECS graduates continue on to careers in academia, non-profit and community-based organizations, educational research centers, or K-12 schools and districts.

International Educational Development (IEDP) explores how education can be best deployed to promote social betterment and improve economic conditions in the developing world. IEDP provides students with a foundational knowledge of international development theory and practical approaches as well as an understanding of the interplay of local, national, and international politics, policies, and priorities. Graduates of this program continue on to careers in international development organizations, government, NGOs, or K-12 schools.

With a strong humanities orientation, Reading/Writing/Literacy (RWL) emphasizes the unique role that literature and writing plays in shaping experiences in schools and in society. Programs provide students with expertise in early literacy, literacy in families and communities, multiculturalism, children’s literature, post-secondary literacies, and teacher education/professional development/leadership. Graduates of these programs continue on to careers as literacy practitioners, researchers, and policy makers in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, as well as to positions in community-based literacy programs, educational publishing, and government programs.


Degree Programs

Education, Culture, and Society, Ph.D
More about this ProgramThe doctoral program in Education, Culture, and Society provides a rigorous and systematic theoretical and methodological framework for the study of education, and it also provides a foundation upon which new models of education can be built. Following a rich academic curriculum based in anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and history, the program invites you to interrogate and contribute to scholarship on the social and cultural contexts of learning, both in and outside of schools.

Reading/Writing/Literacy Ph.D. and Reading/Writing/Literacy Ed.D.
RWL Ph.D.RWL Ed.D.The Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs both emphasize the interrelationships and integration of theory, research, policy, and practice. The Ph.D. prepares scholar-practitioners for careers in research and teaching at colleges and universities. The Ed.D. trains practitioner-scholars for positions involving the practice of education in schools, school districts, colleges and universities, government agencies, foundations, entrepreneurial ventures, and consulting organizations.

Education, Culture, and Society, M.S.Ed
More about this ProgramUnder the supervision and mentorship of a faculty advisor, master’s students in this program explore the role education plays in reproducing and potentially transforming racialized, ethnic, class and gendered relations and structures of inequality.  Students select among courses in the philosophy, history, sociology, and anthropology of education to acquire expertise in the social foundations of education.  Interdisciplinary study in social foundations engages students in the critical analysis of research and social theory concerned with a broad range of educational processes and practices in and out of school. Open elective courses may be taken from across the university in either academic or practical arenas. Interested students have various options to individualize their program of study, such as through a concentration in Community Action and Social Change or our dual degree program with Social Work.

International Educational Development, M.S.Ed
More about this ProgramThe International Educational Development Program (IEDP) is designed to provide students with a set of distinctive skills, knowledge and dispositions required for working in the field of international educational development. Students draw on the program’s strong interdisciplinary foundations to examine issues such as:  early childhood education; emergency education; human rights; gender; language policy; learning and instruction; migration; non-profit management; poverty alleviation; public health; teacher professional development and curriculum design; and technology for development. Through the program’s unique immersive international internship experience, students have the opportunity to apply their academic knowledge and skills to programmatic work, policy and practice with UN and non-profit agencies around the world.

Reading/Writing/Literacy M.S.Ed.
More about this ProgramThe M.S.Ed. specialization in Reading/Writing/Literacy prepares students as practitioners, researchers, and policy makers in educational settings that include K-12 schools, colleges and universities, community-based literacy programs, and educational publishing and government programs.

Additional Offerings

International Educational Development, Doctoral Concentration
More about IEDP-DThe International Educational Development Program - Doctoral Concentration (IEDP-D) is a unique cross-programmatic and interdisciplinary concentration for both Ph.D. and Ed.D. students. It has been designed for doctoral students who wish to develop both strong skills in a disciplinary area (e.g., human development, educational linguistics, anthropology of education, and sociology of education) as well as cross-cultural and international skills based on field experience. The IEDP-D is only open to students who have been admitted to an existing doctoral program in GSE.


  • Drawing on a spencer Grant to Forge meaningful parternships, with Gerald Campano

    Dr. Gerald Campano, Penn GSE associate professor of literacy and culture, shares more about his mission to create deep, long-term collaborations for community-based research that are a genuine and equal sharing of knowledge in South Philadelphia. The new Spencer Foundation Grant reflects the parternship with Campano and María Paula Ghiso, an associate professor of literacy education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and Bethany Welch, the director of the Aquinas Center.

  • the Literacy, Culture, and international education Division (LCIE)

    LCIE is a new administrative unit that brings together programs and faculty from the Education, Culture, and Society, International Educational Development and the Reading/Writing/Literacy programs.  While each of the existing programs in the new division are separate and autonomous, the creation of this division will provide new opportunities for intellectual collaboration and engagement across programs.  Students are admitted into and remain affiliated with the existing masters and doctoral programs:  Reading, Writing, and Literacy; Education, Culture, and Society; and, International Educational Development.

  • Books, Books, and Books

    LCIE faculty bookshelves are swelling. In spring 2017, Dr. Jon Zimmerman’s The Case for Contention (University of Chicago Press) and Dr. Alex Posecznick’s Selling Hope and College (Cornell University Press) hit the book stores. In the summer of 2017, Dr. Sigal Ben-Porath’s Free Speech on Campus was released by the University of Pennsylvania Press.  Knowledge for Social Change (Temple University Press) is another new book that came out in summer 2017, drawing on scholars across Penn. It brings together LCIE’s Dr. John Puckett, with PennGSE’s Associate Dean Matt Hartley, the Netter Center’s Dr. Ira Harkavy and many more. And Dr. Dan Wagner of LCIE is also expecting a new book Learning as Development (Routledge) to be released later this year. 

  • The 39th Annual Ethnography in Education Research Forum

    The 39th annual Ethnography in Education Research Forum, we will consider together how the Forum and CAMRA can continue to nurture creative socially-engaged ethnographic work among a new generation of scholars, practitioners, activists, students, filmmakers, and community partners.

  • Welcoming Alec Gershberg to IEDP

    The International Educational Development Program (IEDP) is delighted to welcome Dr. Alec Ian Gershberg, who has appointments in UPENN's Graduate School of Education, the Department of Sociology and the Urban Studies Program. Previously he was a faculty member at the New School and Chair of the Public and Urban Policy Program.  He is a specialist in social policy, public finance and economic analysis in both developing and OECD countries, with particular expertise in the political economy of education systems, policy reform processes, institutional analysis, education finance, accountability, school governance, and decentralization.

  • Exploring Dual Degree options with ECS

    For students interested in expanding their one year master’s experience in Education, Culture, and Society, a number of new dual-degree options are available.  Students can obtain two degrees, one in education, and one in Social Work, Nonprofit Leadership, or Public Administration.  The International Educational Development Program also has dual-degree options with Social Work, Nonprofit Leadership, Public Administration and Public Health.  Contact Dr. Alex Posecznick for more information. 

  • Exploring The ECS Experience

    Virtual Open Houses for the ECS master's program will be held on February 16, March 16, April 6, and May 11: RSVP here. Look out for a new student blog that documents the adventures of one of our master’s students in Education, Culture, and Society as she explores Penn and Philadelphia.  Follow along with these adventures, and get a window into her experiences in the program.  Aya’s adventures from 2015-16 can be found here, and Uyen at Penn's accounts from 2016-2017 are here.  Brittany Horn takes on the mantle in 2017-2018, with the new blog found here.

  • Congratulations are in order

    Warm congratulations to all of the Student Government Award recipients of 2018.  However, special congratulations to the following members of our ECS/IEDP community: Jasmine Blanks (ECS PhD) for Outstanding Contributions to Student Life; Lloyd M. Talley (ECS MSEd Alumnus) for Student Advocacy; Monique Perry (ECS MSEd Alumna) for Excellence in Service to Colleagues and Students; Dr. Krystal Strong (ECS/IEDP Assistant Professor) for Excellence in Service to Colleagues and Students; Dr. Vivian Gadden (RWL William T. Carter Professor of Child Development and Education) for Excellence in Service to Colleagues and Students. 


Standing Faculty

Sigal Ben-Porath, Ph.D.

Tel Aviv University

Gerald Campano, Ph.D.

University of Pennsylvania

Vivian Gadsden, Ed.D.

University of Michigan

Kathleen Hall, Ph.D.

University of Chicago

John L. Puckett, Ph.D.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Amy Stornaiuolo, Ph.D.

University of California, Berkeley

Krystal Strong, Ph.D.

University of California, Berkeley

Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, Ph.D.

University of Michigan

Daniel A. Wagner, Ph.D.

University of Michigan

Jonathan Zimmerman, Ph.D.

Johns Hopkins University



Amitanshu Das

New York University

Ameena Ghaffar-Kucher, Ed.D.

Teachers College, Columbia University

Alex Posecznick, Ph.D.

Columbia University

Diane Waff, Ed.D.

University of Pennsylvania


Where are our students now?

The LCIE Division prepares researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers for careers in academic research environments, educational administration, international development, higher education, community-based organizations, social policy institutions, and non-profit organizations.

View LCIE Alumni Careers



Literacy, Culture, and International Education Division

University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education

3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Education, Culture, and Society

International Educational Development

Alex Posecznick, Ph.D.
Program Manager and Associated Faculty
(215) 573-3947

Lauren Scicluna-Simon
Program Coordinator
(215) 898-5199

Paula Rogers

Program Assistant


Reading/Writing /Literacy

Tamika Easley
Program Manager
(215) 898-3245


Lorraine Hightower
Program Assistant
(215) 898-8435