Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Barbara J. Thayer-Bacon

Committee Members

Harry F. Dahms, Diana Moyer, Jay Pfaffman


In an era of education policy dominated by the specter of No Child Left Behind, the purpose of this research is to offer a critique of this current period of education reform through a synthetic analysis of one of its key conceptual frameworks. That concept is the discourse of globalization as it is used in the popular discursive practices of public school reform. Often presented as an ontological assumption or conceptual norm [common sense], globalization (or the global economy) is a conceptual framework that commands a significant presence in policy debates and the popular discourse of education reform. It is a concept that is frequently employed in print and broadcast media as a justification for a wide variety of policy proposals from an equally diverse range of political actors and groups seeking to influence policy. It is the frequency in which the concept of globalization is employed that makes it an excellent candidate for that most fundamental of philosophic tasks: clarification.

The aim of this work is to provide that critical read. This research will flesh out and bring philosophic clarity to the concept of globalization in the popular discourse of education reform as it is currently used in public debate. Employing a synthetic mode of analysis (or critical phenomenological method), I will clarify the concept of globalization as it is used in the popular discourse of education policy in order to accomplish two major tasks. First, this research will articulate the educational challenges constructed within this conceptual framework of 'globalization' as well as the structural, curricular, and pedagogical reforms linked to those challenges. The second major task for this research will be to examine those proposals through an inter-disciplinary analysis of empirical research in order to establish the internal consistency between the challenges articulated within the conceptual frame of globalization and the specific reform proposals constructed to meet those educational challenges. My goal in conducting this research is not to 'answer a question' but to create the necessary conditions for a reasoned debate over the educational challenges posed by globalization and how to meet those challenges in a manner that is practical and just.

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