by Derrick P. Alridge, Professor

The 2012-2013 academic year was exciting for Social Foundations. Several initiatives fell into place that will help the program build a solid infrastructure in U.Va.’s new academic environment.

This past year, we focused on building the master’s and Ph.D. programs and made inroads in playing a greater role in undergraduate education. Our new undergraduate minor in Global Studies directed by Carol Anne Spreen is now up and running, we became one of the central programs in the new Youth Development and Policy major in Curry, and we will offer courses in the new MBA/MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Innovation in Education Reform program. Last but not least, we are offering a Social Foundations master’s degree for Peace Corps students before they embark on their assignments.

Faculty members and students are working hard to build a vibrant intellectual community and culture within Social Foundations. In fall 2012, we admitted three new doctoral students. Danielle Wingfield joined us from William & Mary to study the history of education with Derrick Alridge, Chenyu Wang came from the University of Maryland to work with Diane Hoffman in comparative education, and Sahtiya Logan joined us from Princeton to work with Carol Anne Spreen in sociology of education and comparative education.

This year we held several informal dinners to provide students with opportunities to discuss their scholarship and the program and meet faculty and friends of Social Foundations across the university. Our community-building effort was a major initiative this year and will continue in the years to come.

In August 2012, our off-Grounds program in Social Foundations officially became part of the Curry School. Dan Driscoll, a Social Foundations Ph.D. graduate, became the director of the Social Foundations off-Grounds program and is now a member of the Social Foundations faculty.

Under Dan’s leadership, the off-Grounds program has been revamped to include Comparative and International Education and Educational Policy Studies as areas of concentration. We are working hard to create greater academic synergy between our off-Grounds and on-Grounds programs.

This spring Bob McNergney, a good friend and supporter of Social Foundations, developed and taught a new social foundations course/workshop focused on navigating the dissertation process. The workshop included sessions on writing a literature review, developing research questions, and establishing a writing routine. The workshop also provided students with opportunities to write and develop a support system. Students praised Bob’s workshop for helping sharpen their ideas and writing. We plan to offer this workshop each spring.

In fall 2013 Social Foundations will teach EDLF 5000: Multicultural Education, and the course will become a regular offering in the program.  Over the past twenty years, the legendary Bob Covert taught the course and inspired thousands of students to become self-reflective about issues of diversity and astute of critical issues regarding gender, race, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, and class.

Social Foundations intends to build on the solid foundation constructed by Bob and will develop the course around the humanities and critical frameworks of social foundations.

Also, beginning this fall Social Foundations intends to develop a new student-run online journal. The journal will be called Cypher: A Journal of Education, Art, and Culture. Cypher will be a journal for educators, poets, artists, and humanists. The inaugural issue “Movements,” will explore various educational and social movements in the US and abroad that have brought about social justice and radical change. The journal will launch in spring 2014. A call for staff members and writers will be announced in early August 2013.

As you may be aware, Professor Emeriti Jennings Wagoner passed last January. Needless to say, we were all saddened by this extraordinary loss for Social Foundations, Curry, and the university as a whole. Jennings was the epitome of a scholar and gentleman.

I met Jennings over a decade ago and became familiar with his scholarship in the history of education as a graduate student in the 1990s. Fortunately, I got to know Jennings well over the past few years, as we conversed about the future of social foundations in the 21st-century academy.

And of course, we also discussed our mutual interests in Thomas Jefferson, W.E.B. Du Bois, education, and the history of ideas. This coming year, Social Foundations and Higher Education will hold a symposium on the scholarship and life of Jennings (details forthcoming).

[Read alumni tributes to Jennings and add your own.]

Expect to see increased activity in Social Foundations this year as we continue our efforts to become part of the fabric of Curry, the university, and community. We will work more closely with our colleagues in teacher education to influence future teachers. We will increase our undergraduate offerings. We will further engage the local community through efforts like Cypher and other initiatives.

We will continue to build our master’s and doctoral program through our apprenticeship model of academic training that provides students with opportunities to present their work at conferences and publish articles and write grants with faculty.

As always, we hope you will visit us in Bavaro Hall or email us to provide us with your advice or just to say hello (

PHOTO CAPTION: Dr. Wagoner, his wife Shirley, and student Ingrid Isin at the 2012 Curry Student Awards Reception. Wagoner, who died last January, rarely missed the opportunity to meet recipients of the annual scholarship named in his honor.

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