Inquiry Magazine Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy

FALL 2011

In this issue: Breaking Barriers, Making History

Breaking Barriers Making History Photo by Andrew Campbell

Today 400 undergraduates, 450 graduate students and 31 faculty members are part of the School of Education and Social Policy, known for innovation, research and community.

Penelope Peterson

Dear Friends,

Founded in 1850 to serve the people of the Northwest Territory, Northwestern University embodies the spirit of those early pioneers who first settled the river valleys of Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. This frontier spirit has continued over the years.

Eschewing the prevailing two-year teacher training programs of that time, in April 1926, Northwestern’s trustees established the School of Education as a separate administrative unit of the University authorized to award the four-year degree of Bachelor of Science in Education. Our School continued with that name until 25 years ago, when enterprising Dean David Wiley decided to add “Social Policy” to the title, thereby making our School the first and only School of Education and Social Policy in the nation. Well ahead of his time, Dean Wiley anticipated that local, state and federal policies such as “No Child Left Behind” would have profound effects on educational practice, and that understanding such policies would be necessary to anyone wanting to reform education.

Following from that groundbreaking move, Roy Pea, Roger Schank and others invented the field of Learning Sciences 20 years ago, and our School became the first school to have a doctoral program in Learning Sciences. Other “firsts” include the first program of Human Development of Social Policy in the nation, one of the first centers for gifted education in the nation, and the first school of education to have innovative undergraduate majors other than teacher education. You can read about the history of these “firsts” in the first article of this issue of Inquiry. The creation and history of our Center for Talent Development (CTD) unfolds on pages 15 through 18.

Our students have pioneered as well. Otherie Love (BS41), whom we profile in this issue of Inquiry, broke barriers to become the first African American student teacher in Evanston, Illinois. Former NFL football player and CBS sportscaster Irvin A. Cross (BS61) was the first African American to work full time as a sports analyst on national television. Such groundbreaking efforts are also evident in current graduates and recent alumni. In “Where Are They Now?” we look back over 25 years and trace the careers of five of our young alumni who are leading change in their respective fields.

While we have trekked far in our 85 years as the School of Education and 25 years as the School of Education and Social Policy, all of us know that we have much more work to do to improve and change people’s lives. We invite you to keep in touch and let us know how you are breaking new ground in your work. Please send your notes and e-mail us at

Sincerely yours,

Penelope Signature
Penelope L. Peterson, Dean