Welcome to SESP, President Schill

Welcome to SESP, President Schill

dan-schill_2.jpgInterim Dean Dan P. McAdams (left) talks with President Schill.

Northwestern University President Michael Schill met with Interim Dean Dan P. McAdams, learned about several of SESP’s research initiatives and programs, and greeted students, faculty and staff during his first visit to the School of Education and Social Policy.

McAdams, the Henry Wade Rogers Professor of Psychology and a professor of education and social policy in the Human Development and Social Policy program, helped pioneer the field of narrative psychology by developing the life-story model of human identity, which argues that adults find meaning and purpose in their lives by creating stories or “personal myths” that they use to define themselves. McAdams’ most recent book is a new psychology textbook called The Person: A New Introduction to Personality Psychology.

Other highlights of the tour: 

The Center for Youth Creativity, Learning, and Engagement (CYCLE)

Researchers in SESP’s Center for Youth Creativity, Learning, and Engagement (CYCLE) on Annenberg Hall's first floor explore how to cultivate youth creativity, learning, and engagement inside and outside of schools and how to spread this to young people in other contexts. CYCLE is also a hub for research training and research design and a catalyst for developing new research methods.

nichole_schill.jpgAlumna and professor Nichole Pinkard (PhD98), whose work fits under the CYCLE umbrella, is one of the world’s leading visionaries on educational ecosystems. It’s not enough to learn in school, says Pinkard, whose research helps connect educational opportunities between schools, parks, cities, and communities. She created the Digital Youth Network and L3, a social learning platform that connects learning opportunities for young people across the school, home, community, and beyond. During the tour, Pinkard a girls basketball coach, explained how assistant professor Marcelo Worsley is using smart basketballs that collect data.

  • Old thinking: Learning occurs in school.
  • SESP update: Learning is an ecosystem that requires “connective tissue” linking children with transportation, parks, schools, city services, non-profits, and more.

Computer Science + Learning Sciences

uri_schill.jpgUri Wilensky, the Lorraine Morton Professor of Learning Sciences and Computer Science, is the father of a worldwide movement to harness the power of computer modeling and simulations and foster the mindset known as “computational thinking.” His programmable NetLogo modeling environment has helped hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, and researchers tackle complex ideas ranging from the formation of crystals and galaxies to the patterns of wealth distribution, inequality, and segregation in a city. Wilensky showed President Schill a computational model in NetLogo of how forest fires spread and how ecologies change over time.

  • Old thinking: People had to understand math concepts to do math. Also, schools need to teach reading, writing and ‘rithmatic.
  • SESP update: Young children can understand physics concepts early in life. Schools can and should teach computer literacy in all classes.

 Multidisciplinary Center for Education Policy

schill_mssep.jpgSESP’s Multidisciplinary Center in Education Policy deepens connections between research, education policy, and practice by bridging divides between traditionally siloed disciplines. The center brings together researchers from fields such as economics, psychology, sociology, political science, public policy, statistics, and learning sciences. Our newly established dual master’s degree program with the Chinese University of Hong Kong, is one way we bridge these divides. President Schill met several of the master’s students (pictured at left) on his tour.

Cynthia Coburn, professor of education and social policy, is a world-renowned expert on improving relationships between educational researchers and practitioners such as teachers, principals, and district leaders. Coburn’s work, which is part of the Multidisciplinary Center in Education Policy, helped spark a renaissance in the field of education research. She is best known for her research uncovering the complicated factors and relationships that affect how urban school systems implement policy related to schools and learning.

  • Old thinking: University researchers lead the way when working with school districts.
  • SESP update: Research practice partnerships should be collaboratively beneficial efforts between a school district and a university.

kimberly_schill.jpgAssistant professor Kimberly Scott is associate dean for innovation and program development and the director of the School’s Master’s in Learning and Organizational Change program. Scott, who is also director of the Executive Learning and Organizational Change program, facilitates new ventures and advances diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) initiatives in SESP.


By SESP News
Last Modified: 11/1/22