Visiting scholar to address school leadership and reform

28 February 2011

A major scholar in school leadership will be visiting The University of Auckland to discuss school improvement and reform, leadership in school settings, and knowledge use in education this March. Professor Karen Seashore Louis, a Regents Professor and the Robert H. Beck Chair of Ideas in Education at the University of Minnesota will be speaking on “Policy Leadership in Education: Applying a Cultural Lens to Legislative and Parliamentary Systems.”

As a sociologist, Professor Seashore Louis views educational reform through the lens of organisational theory, with an emphasis on the interaction between culture and structure. She says: “One of the most intriguing issues sociologists grapple with is the implication of culture in socially constructed groups. For those of us who are empirical in our orientation, it's difficult to accept that we can explain certain dynamics, but can't create the environment to make things happen with a large degree of predictability. This generated my interest in studying political culture in a variety of different states and countries”

Her area of expertise includes improvement in K-12 (primary and secondary school) leadership and policy over the last 30 years, particularly in urban secondary schools. Karen also conducts research on organisational changes within higher education, with particular attention to faculty roles, and on international comparative policy in educational reform.

Associate Professor Michael Mintrom from the Faculty of Political Studies says: "There is a common tendency among people to be highly optimistic about what public policies can achieve in society. When considering policy responses to perceived problems, people often ask: What should government do? But a better question is: What can government do? This second question reminds us that there are limits to the actions governments can take. Professor Seashore Louis goes further, explaining the ways that political cultures serve to both shape and constrain the policy options available to governments. While focusing on educational change, her work reminds us of the fundamentally important insights that political analysis can offer to those engaged in policy development."

Karen is a Distinguished Visitor to The University of Auckland and is co-sponsored by the Faculty of Education and the Political Studies Department.

Her recent books include Organizing for School Change (2006), Professional Learning Communities: Divergence, Depth and Dilemmas (with Louise Stoll, 2007), Building strong school cultures: A guide to leading change (with Sharon Kruse, 2009), and Linking Leadership to Student Learning (in press). She has served as the President of Division A (Educational Administration) of the American Educational Research Association, where she is also a Fellow, received the lifetime Contributions to Staff Development award from the National Staff Development Association in 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the Campbell Lifetime Achievement Award from the University Council for Educational Administration.

Seminar: Policy Leadership in Education

  • Date/time: Thursday 3 March, 12:30 - 1:30pm
  • Venue: 10 Grafton Road, Seminar Room (Building 220-G05)


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