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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Karen M Gourd
B EDUC 391
Bothell Campus

Special Topics in Education

Explores perspectives on educational policy and practice.

Class description

This course will address the intersection of three concepts fundamental to our time and place: culture, knowledge, and education. Each of these concepts will be explored separately using seemingly simple yet complex questions such as: (a) What is culture? (b) What is knowledge? (c) Whose knowledge counts? and (d) What is the purpose of education? Then the focus will turn to considering ways these concepts interact and affect educational opportunities. How do race, culture, socio-economic histories, language, gender, sexual orientation, and religious views affect educational opportunities? We will consider perspectives from diverse disciplines including psychology, multicultural education, philosophy, cultural and language studies, and science. "Education" will be understood as extending beyond the school setting.

We will approach issues from positions of empowerment rather than victimization, even as we discuss the realities of individuals and groups frequently marginalized or underserved in schools and society. This is not a methods course. Instead it will provide a knowledge base relevant to any major or profession, including those leading to educators.

We will be reading texts on electronic reserve rather than using a single textbook since our approach will be multidisciplinary.

Student learning goals

1. Define culture, knowledge, and education.

2. Discuss issues relevant to culture, knowledge and education (e.g., immigration, myths associated with language acquisition, historical context of US education relative to students’ backgrounds and needs).

3. Use appropriate academic vocabulary necessary for discussing connections between culture, knowledge, and education (including but not limited to academic knowledge, cultural knowledge, familial knowledge, power, access, multiple perspectives, diversity, self-identity, group-identity, stereotype/generalization, prejudice, equity/equality, pluralism, democracy, and social justice).

4. Sensitively and honestly engage in critical discussion of sensitive issues.

5. Discern between opinion and critical analysis (your own and others).

6. Consider multiple perspectives.

General method of instruction

Interactive discussions and activities designed around critical reflection, critical analysis, and listening to others.

Recommended preparation

This course is an introductory course and is open to first- through fourth-year students.

Readings will be placed on electroinc reserve with the UW library Bothell.

Class assignments and grading

In-class discussion and activities, critical questioning, and an exam.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Karen M Gourd
Date: 01/04/2012