Comparative and International Education

The Comparative and International Education (CIE) program is a global, crosscultural, and transdisciplinary program that prepares graduates to work in and with schools – both in the U.S. and internationally – as agents of change in classrooms, schools, and educational systems as a whole. 

Our signature degrees, the M.Ed. in Globalization and Educational Change and M.A. in Comparative and International Education,  have a mixed instructional format – on campus, online, off-site – which is designed to accommodate our diverse body of global students (many of whom are professionals in the field and work internationally). 
We invite students from various backgrounds from both the United States and abroad.  In addition to traditional classroom and school settings, our students come from (and should expect to move upon graduation to) government offices, ministries of education, research/policy institutes, and international development organizations.
The Comparative and International Education (CIE) program at Lehigh University's College of Education is truly innovative. We provide students with a unique blend of global community, content, interaction, context, perspective and purpose. Highlights of these innovative qualities are:
  • An international learning community. The CIE program is truly international in nature.CIE faculty and staff make systematic efforts to create a vibrant learning community where internationalization thrives not only in formal classroom instruction, but also in daily socialization of students and faculty in academic, professional, and personal realms. Building on the strengths, expertise, and connections of the program faculty and the larger Lehigh University community, students have a unique opportunity to engage in a myriad of international experiences as a part of their graduate education experience, including conducting education research overseas, engaging in international education development consultancy, and assisting in journal/book editing in comparative and international education.
  • Multiple opportunities for student/faculty interation. The program offers multiple opportunities for students and faculty to interact in meaningful ways. The basic principles are that (1) faculty/student interaction is transactional (i.e., goes both ways); and (2) faculty/student interaction is best when it has a basis in ongoing interaction both in and out of classroom. CIE faculty have extensive experience in the field as teachers and leaders as well as a theoretical and methodological grounding in a discipline, which is relevant to global leadership and comparative educational issues. We recognize that students bring a wealth of expertise and knowledge that complements the faculty’s expertise and knowledge. Therefore, the CIE program provides a framework upon which students and faculty can build professional relationships that extend beyond the classrooms through collaborative projects, directed study, and intellectual discourse.
  • Globalization and contextualization. Globalization and contextualization are the dual content foci for this program. CIE’s degree programs and coursework will examine globalization as either an impetus or an outcome of educational phenomena both in the United States and around the world. However, the dual process of contextualization is equally important. “Education” is bigger than the formal schooling environment. It occurs in private settings, such as homes and families, and other public settings such as playgrounds and workplaces. “Education” is also bigger than the phenomena of teaching and learning. It includes political, economic, sociological, historical, psychological, and other phenomena as well. From this perspective globalization has a moderated effect on schools and communities because there are layers of contextual or environmental influence. Therefore, it has become impossible to analyze phenomena at any level of education or society without considering how these phenomena are locally situated within a global context.
  • Interdisciplinary perspectives. The CIE program transcends disciplinary boundaries in order to understand and address the complex issues of globalization and contextualization. Education and schooling issues are too complex and diverse to be addressed by just one disciplinary perspective. The fact is that education is the product of many converging forces from politics to society to economics to history to business and philosophy. We cannot understand why schools in countries halfway around the world are structured the way they are, or why educational policies in the U.S. deal with the topics they do unless we understand the various factors impacting these decisions. Most education fields already borrow from other disciplines in terms of theory and methodology, but CIE takes this one step further. Working closely with the graduate programs of Lehigh’s College of Arts and Sciences, the CIE degree programs breach the boundaries of disciplines, thus creating an opportunity for students to examine education-related issues from multiple perspectives.
  • Bridging theory and practice. Another hallmark component of CIE is the bridge between theory and practice. Much of education is professional education, which often translates to explicitly practical application in schools and classrooms. This is a vital component of Lehigh’s College of Education, and it is important for CIE to support this professional training component that is so successful in the College of Education. Yet, the field of comparative and international education is also by nature a global program in that it provides educators and policymakers with a way to understand broader, cross-system, and global trends in educational policy and practice. One of the best tools that we have for understanding these trends is through the development and testing of ideas in the real world. As such, CIE’s programs and courses are theoretically grounded, but also practically-oriented. We help our students think about phenomena using theory, but also teach them how to apply these ideas to real-world, globally-contextualized educational situations and systems.
Learn more about us through our blogs:
  • Lehigh @ the United Nations - Experiencing the United Nations class blog!
  • CIE 400: Comparative and International Education - Here is another example of using a blog as a learning experience 
  • CIE 471: Globalization and Education Equity - And here is yet another example of using a blog as part of our courses
  • Child Solider Crisis - CIE students started our initiative on child soldiers as part of our Globalization and Education Equity course in the Comparative and International Education program at Lehigh University. Throughout the course they examined how the differences resulting from race, ethnicity, culture, language, class, and gender impact behavior and attitudes of individuals and are either reproduced or enacted by educational organizations and institutions. We have studied and learned about numerous marginalized groups in education. Surprisingly, they did not come across much on child soldiers. They felt that their story was still somewhat unspoken. 
  • Professional page w/ blogging - Dr. Alexander Wiseman, Associate professor, Comparative & International Program, Lehigh University
Opportunities for research dissemination:
  • International Perspectives on Education and Society volume series ( )
  • FIRE: Forum for International Research in Education ( )
  • American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting
  • American Sociological Association (ASA) Annual Meeting
  • Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE) Annual Meeting
  • Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) Annual Meeting
  • Comparative Education Society of Europe (CESE) Meeting
  • Gender and Education Association (GEA) Annual Meeting
  • World Council of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES)
Students and faculty publish in journals such as:
  • Comparative Education Review
  • Compare
  • Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue
  • Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
  • Educational Researcher
  • European Educational Research Journal
  • International Higher Education Newsletter
  • International Journal of Educational Research
  • Public Administration and Management


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