Welcome from Dean Terry Mason
Improving Education from Thailand to the Heartland
One of the most exciting experiences I had this past year was a trip to Thailand on behalf of the School of Education. The school has a long history of collaboration in Thailand. Not until I got there did I become aware of the extent of our influence on the development of education in that country. Our faculty were instrumental in helping to establish education programs at some of the country’s leading universities. As far back as the 1950s graduate students from Thailand came to Bloomington to study and returned home to help shape the future of education there.
The school has more than 150 alumnae from Thailand. As impressive as the numbers are, IU’s impact is much greater. Peter Boonjarern, president of the IU Alumni Association of Thailand put it this way: “Many of the Thais that passed through IU are not degree holders, but have benefited from short-term scholar visits, exchanges, etc. For IU to have this massive impact in the field of education in Thailand, I believe that several hundred Thais have a relationship with the IU School of Education but are not necessarily graduates.” I had a chance to meet with several of them and rekindle this strong relationship.
I have been working with faculty, staff, and students on a variety of projects and initiatives. Our Diversity Committee has developed a roadmap for the School’s efforts toward enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion, a plan that will offer concrete and measureable strategies for addressing these important issues.
We’re celebrating a quarter century of the school’s current location. Our building has been a source of great pride over those years, and visitors often comment about how fortunate we are to have such an outstanding facility. But times change, and the needs of students and faculty change as well. We are currently reorganizing space within the building to create a working environment that corresponds to current demands. The plan is to bring our research centers into the building over the next few years. This will increase interaction between faculty and students and our centers that promote the research mission of the school.
Lately I have become concerned that the idea of education as a public good is being called into question. Debate about the purposes of education and the best ways to achieve its goals should be a part of a healthy democracy but we in the School must bring our expertise and engage actively in the public discourse about education. I’ve encouraged our faculty to make their contributions to policy and practice more visible as a means of participating in current discussions.
Whether it is finding effective approaches to intervene with children on the autism spectrum, creating award-winning programs for our students to teach abroad, addressing the needs of LGBTQ students, designing school programs to improve hygiene among school children, or bringing educational opportunities to incarcerated youth, we remain firmly committed, both locally and globally, to improving education for all.
Terrence C. Mason
Dean, IU School of Education