GSEHD Announces Academic, Organizational Innovations

New approach aims to afford students and faculty a more agile and adaptable experience.

February 12, 2014


By Brittney Dunkins

The faculty of the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development approved the general framework and core principles for “GSEHD Vision 2020” on Thursday.

The set of academic and organizational innovations aim to enhance the school’s competitiveness, reinforce its high-quality programs, increase capacity and support for research, and implement key aspects of the university strategic plan.

“Graduate schools of education nationwide face an increasingly competitive environment,” said GSEHD Dean Michael Feuer. “Thanks to the remarkable capacity and caliber of our faculty, students and staff, we are ready to meet new challenges, using principles of innovation and collaboration as powerful engines of change.”

Key features of the framework include accelerated pacing for selected master’s programs, reinforcement of the Ed.D. degree as a doctorate of leadership and practice, and the development of a cross-disciplinary Ph.D.  

GSEHD Vision 2020 also includes changes in the organization of the faculty to strengthen their role in the design of academic programs and in creating new incentives and opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration in research and teaching.

Faculty and staff will begin translating the principles into implementation plans this spring, with the goal of having the new structure fully operational by fall 2015. Special efforts are already underway to ensure that current and prospective students will benefit from the changes and receive guidance for successful completion of their studies.

The basic concepts of the GSEHD Vision 2020 initiative were discussed and approved during the school’s winter faculty meeting after months of formal and informal consultations both internally and with outside experts, analysis of evolving market conditions and review of best practices in peer institutions.

 “GSEHD Vision 2020 supports the university's commitment to cross-disciplinary and research-focused learning," Provost Steven Lerman said. "We are excited that GSEHD has undertaken these innovative measures to better support students and faculty."

One major program enhancement will be the new Ph.D. program, which will emphasize cross-disciplinary attention to issues in education and society. The program will complement the Ed.D., the flagship doctorate of GSEHD, and will be designed to prepare students aspiring to careers in research.

Pending review within the university and approval by the Board of Trustees, the school hopes to recruit the first cohort for the new Ph.D. to begin in fall 2015.

Another highlight of the plan is the development of  “4+1” programs, which would enable qualified GW undergraduates to take graduate courses in GSEHD during their senior year and potentially complete the master’s degree in an intensive fifth year. 

Outreach activities are currently in the works to engage GW students who have interest in teaching, education policy and leadership.

GSEHD will develop expanded and flexible options for weekend on- and off-campus cohort classes and online courses to support students in the newly designed master’s and doctoral programs.

“We believe that accelerated graduate programs can be economically advantageous for many students eager to advance more quickly in their careers,” Dr. Feuer said. “Reducing the time required to complete graduate degrees, without compromising their integrity and quality, is a strategy that we believe will make GSEHD more competitive in this era of change.”

In support of the proposed academic changes, GSEHD will work toward streamlining management and opening new avenues for innovative research and instruction. Formation of faculty “research and innovation groups” will promote new collaborations within the school and with partners university wide.

“Schools in institutions of higher education are constantly evolving, and GSEHD is no exception,” Professor of Education and Disabilities Studies Michael Castleberry said. “GSEHD Vision 2020 is a creative and innovative structural format to consider because it will enhance and expand cross-program collaboration and program development.”

“I expect it to energize faculty discussion throughout the spring semester and beyond,” he added.