MIC Seminar in Educational Policy Studies


Instructor: Joe Ferrare, Ph.D.

Office: 145C Taylor Education Building

Office Hours: Tuesdays 2 - 4pm or by appointment



Syllabus in PDF

Education Policy Links



The primary objectives of this 1-credit course are to (1.) think relationally about schools and the process of schooling in the United States, and (2.) to develop the ability to engage in productive debates about education policy. To think relationally about schools and schooling means that we will be concerned with how educational practices shape and are shaped by the economic, political, and cultural contexts of society. Thus, a recurring question we will ask is, “How might our knowledge of the relationship between school and society influence the ways we organize practices in schools and make decisions in the realm of education policy?”

With this broad focus in mind the course will center on the following themes:

  1. The role(s) of schooling in society
  2. Issues involving race, class, gender, ethnicity, and other cultural forms
  3. The sociological and political contexts of the education system
  4. Education policy and reform

These themes are not mutually exclusive and do not necessarily constitute a sequential order. Rather, they represent a sample of the many points of reference from which we will situate schools in relation to other institutions in society. As we progress through each meeting we will apply what we have learned to current and past concepts that emerge from the course material. 


Students who successfully complete the requirements for this course should expect:

  1. To understand how educational practices and trajectories differentially impact students based upon race, gender, class, ability, language, and other cultural identities and social positions;
  2. To understand the dominant education policies and reforms aimed at (re)shaping the practices and trajectories outlined in Objective 1.
  3. To develop the skill of participating in debates about education policy through writing and discussion.


The primary format for our class meetings will be a mixture of Socratic lecture, debate scenarios, and general discussions. During the discussions we will work together as a class, in small groups, and individually to raise critical questions and formulate connections across the course material. At times, I will randomly pick names from the course roster and ask questions about the assigned readings. In addition, I will pose problems through case studies to the entire class in order to provide you with in-class opportunities to apply conceptual tools to analyze key questions guiding the course. 


Your work in this course will be evaluated through three assignments. The topics and corresponding grading weights are as follows:

Assignment 1: The Aims of Education in Contemporary Society (33.33%) – Initial position post due Saturday Sept. 8, antithesis response due Wednesday Sept. 12, synthesis response due Saturday Sept. 15.

Assignment 2: Sources of Inequality in Education (33.33%) – Initial position post due Wednesday Sept. 19, antithesis response due Saturday Sept. 22, synthesis response due Wednesday Sept. 26.

Assignment 3: Education Policy in the News (33.33%) – Initial position post due Wednesday Oct. 3, antithesis response due Saturday Oct. 6, synthesis response due Wednesday Oct. 10.

Each assignment will be structured as a series of exchanges between triads: an original position, an antithesis, and a synthesis. For assignment 1, a third of the class will post an approximately 800-word position to the Canvas discussion board. Another third of the class will be assigned the task of countering the argument posted to the discussion board through a 500 to 800-word response. The final third will then be tasked with searching for common ground and synthesizing the thesis/antithesis. The roles will shift for assignments 2 and 3 such that each student will take on all roles by the final assignment. The original poster should title their post with the three last names in the group followed by "Assignment 1" (e.g., Smith, Robinson, Martinez - Assignment 1). 

Final course grades will be assigned using the following distribution:

A: 90% – 100%, B: 80% – 89%, C: 70 – 79%, D: 60% – 69%, E: below 60%


There are no textbooks for this course. The assigned readings will consist of journal articles and selected book chapters posted to the Course Outline and Readings page.


If any student requires specific accommodations please do not hesitate to speak with me at any point during the semester.  This includes accommodations related to the curriculum, instruction, evaluations, or any other factors that would otherwise prohibit your full participation in this course. Any questions or concerns students have about this matter will be held confidential to the best of my ability. In order to receive specific accommodations in this course, you must provide me with a Letter of Accommodation from the Disability Resource Center (Room 2, Alumni Gym, 859-257-2754) for coordination of campus disability services available to students with disabilities.


All instances of academic dishonesty will be addressed according to standard UK policies on academic integrity. Please familiarize yourself with these expectations and the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

Plagiarism is attempting to pass off others' work as your own, such as copying the words of others or paraphrasing without proper attribution; not giving credit to sources in oral presentations; and/or handing in a paper you completed for another class for a grade in this course (i.e. self-plagiarizing). For specific questions about plagiarism please see this document put together by UK's Office of Academic Ombud Services.


The University of Kentucky faculty are committed to supporting students and upholding the University's non-discrimination policy.

Discrimination is prohibited at UK. If you experience an incident of discrimination we encourage you to report it to Institutional Equity & Equal Opportunity (IEEO) Office, 13 Main Building, (859) 257-8927.

Acts of Sex- and Gender-Based Discrimination or Interpersonal Violence

If you experience an incident of sex- or gender-based discrimination or interpersonal violence, we encourage you to report it. While you may talk to a faculty member or TA/RA/GA, understand that as a "Responsible Employee" of the University these individuals MUST report any acts of violence (including verbal bullying and sexual harassment) to the University's Title IX Coordinator in the IEEO Office. If you would like to speak with someone who may be able to afford you confidentiality, the Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) program (Frazee Hall – Lower Level), the Counseling Center (106 Frazee Hall), and the University Health Services are confidential resources on campus.