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Release: Oct. 24, 2001

UI hosts Symposium on Socio-Cultural Research in Education Nov. 2-4

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa will bring together 10 scholars from across the country next month to discuss socio-cultural research and theory in education. The Nov. 2-4 gathering at the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies is being underwritten with a $6,000 Collaborative Projects Initiative from the National Academy of Education and the Spencer Foundation and funding from the Obermann Center and the UI Office of the Vice President for Research.

Cynthia Lewis – an Obermann Scholar, associate professor in the UI College of Education's Division of Curriculum and Instruction and 2000-2001 Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow -- secured the NAE/Spencer Foundation grant in collaboration with three other postdoctoral fellows.

In addition to Lewis, the symposium will gather five other Spencer postdoctoral fellows, three early-career scholars and a UI doctoral student Laretta Henderson, to discuss the traditions that socio-cultural research draws upon and its potential impact on policy and reform in education. Socio-cultural research in education investigates the relationships between learning and the cultural, historical, and institutional situations in which it occurs.

Symposium participants are coming from as far away as the University of Washington and have research interests ranging from math and science to higher education. Lewis believes such diversity will greatly benefit symposium participants.

"Although most of us do research related to literacy, an area of education that has been profoundly influenced by socio-cultural theory in recent years, we feel it is important to think more broadly about issues of learning, development, and identity, and to talk across disciplinary orientations in doing so," Lewis wrote in her NAE/Spencer grant proposal.

Lewis' own research focuses on literacy as it is shaped by the social politics of classrooms and communities. She has published numerous articles featured in educational journals and has written a book, Literary Practices as Social Acts: Power, Status, and Cultural Norms in the Classroom.

Participants and institutions taking part in the symposium, along with Lewis and Henderson, are:

  • Patricia Enciso, assistant professor, The Ohio State University
  • Robert Fecho, assistant professor, University of Georgia
  • Juan Guerra, associate professor, University of Washington
  • Shuaib Meacham, assistant professor, University of Delaware
  • Elizabeth Birr Moje, associate professor, University of Michigan
  • Carla O’Connor, assistant professor, University of Michigan
  • Marjorie Faulstich Orellana, assistant professor, Northwestern University
  • Rebecca Rogers, assistant professor, Washington University