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 Program

Under 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.

Language and Literacy M.S.Ed.
More about this ProgramThe M.S.Ed. specialization in Language and Literacy trains students to meet the needs of all language learners in diverse classrooms. The curriculum melds instruction in teaching English as an additional language with a thorough understanding of pre-K-12 literacies for students whose first language is English.

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.


  • Vivian L. Gadsden Voted AERA President-Elect

    Vivian L. Gadsden, William T. Carter Professor of Child Development and Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, has been voted president-elect of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Her term as president begins at the conclusion of AERA’s 2016 Annual Meeting.

  • Rhiannon Maton wins AESA dissertation award

    Rhiannon Maton (Ph.D. RWL) is the recipient of the American Educational Studies Association's Taylor & Francis Past President's Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Research. This is a great honor focusing on the potential for Maton's research to contribute in meaningful ways to the field.

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

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

  • Dr. Jonathan Zimmerman Joins the ECS Program in the New LCIE Division

    A former Peace Corps volunteer and high school teacher, Professor Jonathan Zimmerman is a highly esteemed historian of education and public intellectual. A prolific writer, Jon has published several books on a wide range of educational issues, including his most recent work, Campus Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford, 2016) as well as Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Education (Princeton, 2015), Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory (Yale, 2009), and Innocents Abroad: American Teachers in the American Century (Harvard, 2006).  Jon is teaching Education and the Culture Wars and American Education Reform this fall, and will teach the History of American Education and American Education Reform again in the Spring.

  • The 38th Annual Ethnography in Education Research Forum

    The 38th annual Ethnography in Education Research Forum will take place at PennGSE on February 24-25. Our theme, Ethnography in Action, corresponds with our celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Practitioner Inquiry Day and highlights a concern at the heart of practitioner inquiry, community-based research, and action research: ethnographic research as a form of social action.  The Forum is being organized this year by GSE alumna, Dr. Rachel Skrlac Lo and student coordinators Veena Vasudevan and Abdul-Qadir Islam.

  • Welcoming Amrit Thapa to IEDP

    The International Educational Development Program (IEDP) is delighted to welcome Dr. Amrit Thapa as a lecturer in the program.  Former Research Director at the National School Climate Center (NSCC), Dr. Thapa is also an Affiliated Researcher for the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University and Vice President for The Institute of Global Education (IGE), an NGO that has consultative status with the Economic & Social Council of the United Nations. He will be teaching Principles of Monitoring and Evaluation and the Economics of International Educational Development in the fall, and Advanced Topics in Monitoring and Evaluation and the International and Comparative Studies in School Climate in the Spring.

  • Spencer Funding awarded to Dr. Sigal Ben-Porath

    In this project, Dr. Ben-Porath will analyze the demands and virtues of citizenship in light of the changing civic landscape, particularly online forms of participation and engagement. Along with a doctoral student, Gideon Dishon, she will suggest new forms of civic teaching and learning and new contexts for such activities that could productively be implemented in schools. 

  • The Adventures of Uyen and Aya

    Uyen at Penn 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.


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 E. Thomas, Ph.D.

University of Michigan

Daniel A. Wagner, Ph.D.

University of Michigan

Jonathan Zimmerman, Ph.D.

Johns Hopkins University



Ameena Ghaffar-Kucher, Ed.D.

Teachers College, Columbia University


Alex Posecznick, Ph.D.

Columbia University

Brian Street, Ph.D.

Oxford 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 Assistant
(215) 898-5199

Reading/Writing /Literacy

Penny M. Creedon
Program Manager
(215) 898-3245


Lorraine Hightower
Program Assistant
(215) 898-8435