MA in International Education

Winter 2013 Alumni Newsletter

Program News and Faculty Updates

The 2012-2013 academic year has brought many changes to the International Education program. Firstly, we are pleased to welcome the new cohort of Masters and Doctoral students, who hail from countries across the world including Barbados, China, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Japan, Germany, and the United States. We would also like express our enormous gratitude to Professor Philip Hosay, who has stepped down as Director of the International Education Program, after nearly 25 years of service. Phil Hosay, with his colleague Don Johnson, founded the International Education program 27 years ago.

As he hands over the directorship to Professor Cynthia Miller-Idriss, Phil Hosay reflects on his time as Program Director, and the transformations that have taken place in the International Education program over the years. According to Phil, the biggest change has been the expansion of the program. He states that one of the reasons for increase in student enrollment is the growing tendency for international students to attend universities abroad, with many of these students choosing to attend institutions in the United States, such as NYU Steinhardt. Phil cites a study by UNESCO, estimating that approximately 3.2 million students are currently enrolled at higher education institutions in countries other than their own. This number is expected to grow exponentially, with scholars projecting that by the end of this decade at least ten million students will be enrolled at post-secondary institutions in countries other than their own. Not only is this advantageous for international students, who ascertain academic and personal benefits, but it is also valuable for American institutions of higher education, which often see increases in esteem and profit due to the international diversity of their student body. Phil Hosay proudly asserts that the International Education program excels in training practitioners and scholars who focus on this growing area of cross-cultural exchange in higher education—more so than International Education programs in other large, and often prestigious, institutions. In addition to the prominence of this Cross-Cultural specialization in International Education, Phil divulges that there has been a growth in the area of International Development Education, spurred by the interest of developing and nearly-developed countries in evaluating their own systems of education. The department’s newest faculty member, Cristian ‘Kiki’ Pop-Eleches, is actively engaged in this very research.

"I am delighted to hand over the position of Program Director to Professor Cynthia Miller-Idriss."
           -Professor Philip Hosay

Phil Hosay continues to focus his research efforts on public diplomacy as a Professor of International Education at NYU Steinhardt. He looks forward to spending more time directing the Multinational Institute for American Studies—an institute for international scholars that aims to increase understanding of the United States and its culture for education in other countries, while also promoting international and interdisciplinary academic collaboration. Phil remarks: "I am delighted to hand over the position of Program Director to Professor Cynthia Miller-Idriss."

Cynthia Miller-IdrissCynthia Miller-Idriss is an Associate Professor of International Education and Educational Sociology. Her research interests include identity, nationalism, right-wing extremism, citizenship, and education in international and comparative contexts. She is currently working on a book about the recent upsurge of neo-Nazism and right-wing extremism in German youth. Cynthia is particularly interested in the use of symbols and codes in commercialism that, she believes, may further perpetuate these right-wing extremist movements. Cynthia states that she is “thrilled to take on the role” of Program Director, and comments on Phil’s incredible legacy as both founder and director of the International Education program. “It is a very exciting time to be doing this work”, Cynthia states, referencing the rapid growth in the field of international education. She looks forward to seeing the program evolve alongside the field of International Education: “It is the right field to be in, at the right time”.

New Faculty Introduction

Cristian ‘Kiki’ Pop-ElechesProfessor Cristian ‘Kiki’ Pop-Eleches is the newest member of the International Education faculty. He joins us from the School of International and Public Affairs and the Department of Economics at Columbia University. Kiki received his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University in 2003. His research interests include international education and health, specifically how the quality and type of schools and school inputs affect educational and labor market outcomes, the effect of access to abortion and birth control methods on socio-economic outcomes of children, and the socio-economic impacts of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Pop-Eleches is a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, as well as an affiliate of the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development. The International Education faculty and staff are pleased to welcome Kiki to the program!

Spotlight On Faculty Research: Professor Dana Burde

Professor Dana Burde is currently living and working in Pakistan this academic year, where she is finishing a book on education in Afghanistan, and beginning a Fulbright-funded research project that examines youth, education, and peacebuilding in Pakistan. Dana’s research focuses on education in emergencies, and its role in humanitarian action. She is an assistant professor of the International Education program, an affiliated faculty of the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, and an affiliated research scholar at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. Dana corresponds with us from the field, giving us her thoughts on her current and past work, and why this research is important:

What are you doing in Pakistan?
As many of you may know, I’m on research leave this year in Pakistan supported, in part, by a Fulbright research grant for next semester. This semester is devoted to my book which is on education, conflict, and peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan is the perfect place to be writing this book since so many resources are available here—old books on the region that are out of print in the US are readily available here; aid workers who have long institutional memories about the kinds of programs that supported education for Afghan refugees back in the 1980s and 90s are still working here; and of course it’s nice to live in the relative calm of Islamabad but be within close proximity to Kabul for short research visits. So what am I doing exactly? Spending long days writing, advising my students from afar, conferencing into meetings in New York, and generally serving as an active member of NYU’s “global network university” – on its outer edge.

What’s it like living in Pakistan?

I thoroughly enjoy living in Pakistan. That said, I should point out that although I’ve traveled around the country in the past (Balochistan, Afghan refugee villages, etc.), on this trip I’m staying primarily in Islamabad. Pakistanis have a joke about Islamabad that I first heard here in 2005 and that still makes me smile. They say, “Islamabad is a lovely place—you’re only 15 minutes away from Pakistan.” Islamabad is a young city, designed in the 1960s to be the new capital of the young country. So in that way it might feel a little like other planned capitals—Pretoria, Brasilia—but it looks more like West LA or a suburb in Westchester County than what you’re likely to picture when you think of a city in South Asia. And it’s mapped out just below the Margalla Hills—the foothills of the Himalayas—and they are incredibly beautiful. We have mongooses, monkeys, and wild boars regularly roaming around our neighborhood.

Have you had a chance to explore the education issues in Pakistan since you’ve been there?
Even though I’m working on Afghan education at the moment, I’m surrounded by education issues in Pakistan. Some of these issues are similar to the ones you see in Afghanistan, like, for example, attacks on schools, teachers, and students. But the attack here on Malala—the 15-year old Pakistani activist for girls’ education—was unprecedented. The whole country was shocked. And when the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility, the outcry against the Taliban was overwhelming, too. There were marches in the streets—massive protests that included many women and girls. And schools across the country released statements condemning the attackers. Even the politicians who are often reluctant to criticize the Taliban too forcefully for fear of alienating some of the religious parties condemned the act, if not the group behind the act. So it was a rare moment of unity across the political spectrum here.

How did the Taliban react?
The Taliban seemed taken aback. Surprised that their act of violence received so much attention. For a minute it looked like they had gone too far, miscalculate. It looked like public opinion here which often prevaricates on the Taliban was really turning against them. But they are surprisingly media savvy, and they and their allies in power in Pakistan immediately began to spin stories that would raise questions here about Malala. They claimed they did not attack her because she wanted to get an education, but because she wanted the wrong kind of education—a secular, western education. (Public school education in Pakistan wouldn’t qualify as secular education in the U.S.) They claimed she was trying to westernize Swat (the Pashtun-dominated area where she lives in Pakistan), and they accused her of being a spy and showed a still photo from a meeting she had had with Richard Holbrooke. (In the video the photo was grabbed from, she requests support from Holbrooke for girls’ education in Pakistan.)

But one of the most effective ways the allies of the Taliban undermined the Malala moment in Pakistan was to challenge the sympathy and attention that Malala was receiving by pointing to the children in northern Pakistan who have been killed by US unmanned drones. Why should Malala receive so much attention, they asked, when so many children have been affected by US drones in the north and no one expresses concern about them? Although you don’t read about it much in the US media, there is enormous anger here over the drone attacks in northern Pakistan. The Taliban sympathizers diffused the support for Malala by tapping into that anger and resentment and framing an equation of moral relativism.

Do you think the Taliban’s anti-Malala media campaign was successful?
Well…..Notwithstanding their partial success at deflecting anger over their attempted assassination, there is still enormous support here for Malala. And beyond her individual case, the desire of Pakistani parents to educate their children – both boys and girls – even in remote rural areas is very powerful and only getting stronger. 

To learn more about the Taliban’s media offensive on Malala, click here:

You can also read more about Dana’s findings on girls' educational outcomes in Afghanistan, and her full length article with Leigh Linden, online:

You can read more about the civilian consequences of drone attacks here:

How to Stay Involved

If you would like to be more involved as an alumnus of the International Education program, email Erinn Bernstein at We would love to hear more about what you are doing! Opportunities to become more involved in the program include:

  • Networking with and mentoring current students.
  • Participating in career panels and other events.
  • Presenting research at the International Education Conference.
  • Talking with prospective students.
  • Connecting students and recent-graduates with internship and job opportunities at your organization.

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