Educational & Economic Systems: A Comparative Look at International Issues of Access, Cost, and Privilege

Discipline: Semester at Sea Seminars
Instructor: Galloway
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 0925
End: 1040
Field Work: Day 1 - Wednesday, 8 October | Morocco Download Syllabus

This course provides a rare comparative look at the educational systems that exist in the 13 countries that we visit, with a spotlight on how the economic systems of these countries either impede or promote access, retention, and ultimately, success. By viewing each country’s elementary, secondary, and postsecondary systems of education as one large connected system, rather than one simply composed of three distinct parts, students will be able to develop a systems approach to education that will provide them with unique insights into such country-specific issues as economic development, microfinance, and the functioning of local labor markets. In an effort to understand the tremendous variation that exists within these systems of education, students will be expected to not only visit select educational institutions that highlight these differences, but to develop a conceptual understanding of both how and why these differences came to exist.

To develop this conceptual understanding, students will make use of an extensive set of course readings, YouTube videos, class discussions, and several on-site visits to select educational institutions. Since it appears that a course like this has never been offered in the United States at either the undergraduate or graduate level – at least based on an extensive internet search of available course syllabi – there is no standard textbook or series of readings that exist; instead, readings and videos for the course have been cobbled together from a variety of sources. These sources include textbooks, journal articles, you-tube videos, the occasional speech, and an extensive array of information-rich websites that profile the countries we’ll be visiting; these websites include the CIA World Factbook, World Bank Development Reports, United Nations Human Development Program Reports,  Economist Intelligence Unit Reports, and perhaps not surprisingly, Wikipedia. Since each of these sources provide a detailed and unique review of each country, these websites will serve an important role in introducing students to the educational and economic systems at play in each of the 13 countries that we’ll be visiting, and students will be expected to develop a conceptual understanding  of each country before we visit.

In addition to understanding the ways in which each country’s educational and economic systems are intertwined, students will also be expected to develop a broad understanding of how this relationship plays out in terms of issues of access, retention, and success at the regional, continental, and hemispheric levels. In other words, to what extent do these issues vary by hemisphere, continent, or region, or is there actually no discernible pattern at all? To enable students to make these broader connections, class time has been set aside at three appropriate points in the course: a discussion of emerging themes in education and economics prior to the first midterm, a discussion of the similarities in the relationship between economics and education in Europe and Africa during our Atlantic crossing, and a final discussion of continental themes prior to our visit to Cuba and take-home final. As such, at the end of the course students will not only have a sense of how economics and education are related internationally, but will most certainly have a new perspective on how issues of access, retention and success play out in the United States and more importantly, what might be done to ameliorate existing problems.

Field Work

Country: Morocco
Day: 1 - Wednesday, 8 October

During this eight-hour field lab, students will have a chance to visit Ben M’Sik University to discuss educational policy issues in Morocco and interact with local students. The lab will officially start with a 30 minute preparatory briefing on ship to set up the day and conclude with a 30 minute debriefing on board ship. Academic Objectives: 1. Compare and contrast the primary educational system in Morocco with that of the United States. 2. Develop an understanding of how access and privilege work within the Moroccan educational system. 3. Identify the most pressing educational issues in Morocco and understand how they are related to the Moroccan economy.