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MEd. and Ed.D in Curriculum and Instruction now The 3Cs—Curriculum, Culture, and Communities


"We sat down and took a hard look at the question ‘what is the real meaning of social justice in an educational setting in the 2020s?, said Dr. David Ensminger, an associate professor specializing in instructional design, program evaluation and organizational change and learning. Adds Dr. Seungho Moon, an associate professor specializing in curriculum studies and diversity issues in education, "Even before the pandemic, we talked about different disciplinary approaches to PK-20 curriculum, and developed multiple class formats—online, hybrid, weekend, and summer, collaborating with communities and local schools, along with a vision of embodying social justice through anti-racist pedagogy and culturally sustainable practices. Coincidentally, COVID-19 hitmaking that flexibility even more critical. 

For years, Loyola has maintained strong partnerships with neighborhood schools and community organizations in the Rogers Park and Edgewater neighborhood. Through insight gained from that work and the fundamental question they were considering, Moon and Ensmingehave transformed the traditional Curriculum & Instruction programs into what they’re informally calling The 3 Cs—an MEd and EdD in Curriculum, Culture, and Communities.   

As co-directors of 3Cs, Moon and Ensminger envision that this rebranded program will cultivate a forward-thinking mindset of enacting social justice teaching practices, teach the theory and practice of community partnering, collaborative thinking, and participatory problem solving, extend the role of curriculum specialist past the traditional PK-12 model to community members for a life-long learning environment, and be a national and global thought leader with innovative, culturally sustainable approaches to curriculum and teaching with community engagement  

“This is an expertise that is desperately needed,” says Ensminger. “We are excited about challenging the assumptions people take for granted. We know this will appeal to the traditional doctoral student, but we also envision a range of professionals who are excited about curriculum working with diverse populations and imagining different communities, regardless of their discipline or role.” Moon is quick to agree, continuing, “Remember, curriculum doesn’t just exist, it influences. And often, it perpetuates existing hierarchies and power structures. So it matters, and matters deeply, that those tasked with making decisions about learning, be it formal or informal, value underrepresented cultural groups and keep a balance between the heart and mind.” 

A strong thread that runs through the entire program is the conviction that learning isn’t relegated to classroom instruction; rather, it happens in a multitude of settings including neighborhood centers, museums, and other community resources. “The learning looks different and takes different forms, sure, but there should be a relationship between those entities,” says Ensminger. “This is the antithesis of the typical ‘sage on the stage’ model. We’re challenging that, knowing that learners play a central role and come with valuable assets of knowledge, culture, and experience.” Adds Moon, “There are many alternative instructional models in PK-20 curriculum like problem-, case-, and project-based learning. Arts-based inquiry is a great way to promote multiple perspectives to talk about social injustices such as institutionalized racism, classism, sexism, and more. We’re looking to raise up critical thinkers in an innovative way.” 

That innovation is modeled in the program, where candidates will engage in forms of participatory and action research, working together in small groups to solve real problems within a local organization, coming up with solutions that are directly and immediately applicable. Says Moon, “The program is designed to bring attention to issues at the local, national, and international level. We call it glocal. We invite 3Cs graduate students to think about local issues globally and global issues locally. The pandemic and natural disasters taught us that curriculum specialists should consider local and global issues organically.” This group research will maintain the rigor of any previous iteration of the program while bringing in additional flexibility and the benefit of immediate application.  

Learn more about EdD in Curriculum, Culture, and Communities (3Cs) – Hybrid & In-Person 

Learn more about MEd in Curriculum, Culture, and Communities (3Cs) – Hybrid & In-Person