Fall 2017

Greetings from the Chair

Tom Shields headshot As I write this, we are grappling with the tragic and awful events that happened in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017. We are trying to understand — the incivility, the bigotry, the prejudice — that was on display and continues to grip our nation. I believe the key to restoring our democratic values of care, understanding and compassion is through our education system. To thwart the hateful beliefs — of racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and xenophobia — we need to turn to our education system where we are able to confront these ugly behaviors and help students understand the importance of a pluralistic society.

In the coming weeks, children, young adults, and adult learners will return to classrooms with excitement and with some anxiety. It will be our job to make sure that they feel welcome, safe and secure, yet challenged to face the complexities of a diverse country. At this crucial juncture in our country’s long, embattled history with these issues, there is no greater calling than to be an educator where one is able to create a thoughtful and considerate dialogue with students. Paolo Freire, the great Latin American educational philosopher, called this the crafting of co-intentional knowledge where teacher and student have the opportunity to co-create an elevated conscientiousness of respect and trust.

Our faculty and staff in Graduate Education at the University of Richmond believe that teachers and school leaders serve as powerful role models of respect and tolerance. Over the coming academic year, we will do our best to assist our current students, graduates, and the greater community in understanding the importance of a civil and trusting culture in classrooms and schools. I believe the leadership of Kappa Delta Pi, the International Honor Society in Education, said it best in a recent letter to its membership: “As educators, we must work together and support one another to educate children who are committed to creating a better and more just society.”

In this edition of the e-newsletter, you will see how our faculty, staff, students and graduates in UR’s Graduate Education are leading the way in their classrooms, in service to the community, in research and writing, in receiving honors and accolades for their practice, and in being leaders on state educational associations. As you will notice from the accomplishments that are detailed, we believe that nothing should hold us back from making sure our students and graduates are prepared for the challenges they will face in trying to create a just and tolerant world.

As we conclude a summer filled with challenges and injustices, we should look forward to the start of another academic year as an opportunity to fulfill what Martin Luther King, Jr. said about the role of education: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.”

Wishing you all the best with your studies and teaching this fall semester!

Be safe and be well!

Tom Shields signature
Tom J. Shields, Ph.D.
Graduate Education Chair