PhD in International Education

Heddy Lahmann

Expected graduation: May 2018

Why did you choose to pursue a Doctoral degree in International Education? 

Prior to my doctoral studies, my educational history primarily revolved around theatre and performance. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre from San Diego State University and an MFA from the University of Connecticut. In 2010 I traveled with a team of artists to Haiti with Clowns without Borders, where we performed an educational clowning show for children affected by the devastating earthquake. This experience left me ruminating on how I might pursue a deeper investigation of the use of arts education in humanitarian settings, and how I might draw on my own artistic background to contribute to the conversation. This ultimately led to me here to the International Education program.

Please describe the focus of your research:

I am interested in the use of the arts as a vehicle for positive identity formation and crisis and conflict transformation. I am interested in the ways that arts education crops up in emergency settings, how and why it is employed and by whom, the politics of its employment, and finally its measurable and immeasurable value (both perceived and overlooked).

My dissertation research is centered on an arts-based youth community development program in Afghanistan, run by Bond Street Theatre. I intend to conduct a mixed methods study: a quantitative impact evaluation investigating the effects of the program on youth identity formation, and an in-depth qualitative investigation of the attitudes, perceptions, and experiences of the youth involved.

Professor or scholar who has influenced you the most: 

I feel inspired and privileged to have Dr. Dana Burde as my tirelessly supportive faculty adviser, whose extensive and fascinating work on Education in Emergencies drew me to the International Education program to begin with.

I'm humbled by the generosity and wealth of knowledge of the faculty across NYU Steinhardt and the invaluable input I've received from Professors Niobe Way, Jennifer Hill, Nisha Sajnani, Phil Hosay, Rene Arcilla, and Jon Zimmerman, to name a few.

Awards and fellowships or grants:

  • Steinhardt GSO Professional Development Competitive Reimbursement (2015)
  • Shearwater Foundation Grant for Dissertation Research (2015)
  • Steinhardt Doctoral Student Fellowship (2013-2016)
  • Steinhardt Doctoral Student Scholarship (2017)


Burde, Dana; Guven, Ozen; Kelcey, Jo; Lahmann, Heddy; and Al-Abbadi, Khaled. What Works to Promote Children’s Access, Quality of Learning, and Wellbeing in Crisis-Affected Contexts. Rigorous Literature Review. Department for International Development. (forthcoming).


Youth Development in Afghanistan. Poster presentation. Global TIES for Children: Transforming Intervention Effectiveness and Scale. June 2015.

Exploring Arts-Based Programming in Conflict and Crisis Settings Through Arts-based Research. Paper presentation for a Peace Education Special Interest Group panel at the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference. Washington DC. March 2015.

What Does Art Have to do With It?: The Role of Theatre-based  Non-formal Education Programs for Conflict-affected Youth. Paper presentation at the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference. Toronto. March 2014.

Courses taught (as TA and adjunct):

Introduction to Qualitative Analysis in Comparative Education (Grad Assistant - Fall 2015)