The Learning Sciences (LS) program, new at the undergraduate level as of fall 2016, builds on the School of Education and Social Policy’s internationally esteemed graduate program in learning sciences, which was the first in the world 26 years ago.
Learning sciences is an interdisciplinary field that involves understanding learning in a wide range of social contexts. Students will explore in depth the most current theories of learning, many of which have been and continue to be advanced by Northwestern faculty. Learning sciences is an applied design field as well, with practitioners designing in all aspects of learning environments: curriculum, social arrangements, and even the architectural organization of spaces in which learning takes place. Students in the new LS major will be equipped to become leaders in the analysis and design of innovative learning environments.
Real-World Practical Experience
LS students will be well versed in both the theory and practice of the learning sciences. Students in LS will pursue careers in a diverse range of fields, from the traditional classroom to educational technology startups to museums. SESP students studying LS will get their first taste of the application of their degree in their junior year practicum. Find out more about SESP undergraduate practicums.
Following are examples of organizations that are potential practicum sites or post-graduation employers for LS students:
- Field Museum
- Clarity Consulting, Software Development and Client Solutions
- Lurie Children’s Hospital: Learning and Development Department
- American Association of Museums
- Sesame Workshop
- Noble Network of Charter Schools
Flexible Course Work
In addition to the SESP core courses in lifespan development, social inequality, diversity research, and statistics, students have significant flexibility to tailor the program to their own interests within the learning sciences field. All LS students will take three core LS classes: Cognition and Action; Culture, Language and Identity; and Designing for Learning.
Students will then choose from among three specializations: Learning in Schools; Out-of-School Learning; and Design of Learning Environments. Students may also choose to pursue a double major, minor or certificate while maintaining LS as their primary major.
The curriculum draws upon research and theory around these themes:
- The role of social and cultural contexts in learning, in both formal and informal learning environments, including classrooms, schools, museums, workplaces and homes
- Cognition and the processes through which individual learning takes place
- Design and the critical evaluation of learning environments.