Expertise: comparative sociology of education, global and transnational sociology, globalization, refugees and humanitarian emergencies, international development
Julia C. Lerch, sociology assistant professor, looks at international education issues from a sociological perspective.
She studies how the role of education as a social institution has changed over time in different societies around the world, primarily in response to global influences. One of the big projects she’s been working on looks at the rise of emergency education as a new component of the international response to humanitarian emergencies. Historically, when the international community – think United Nations – has responded to humanitarian crises - like what’s happening in Syria, they haven’t delivered emergency education in tandem with emergency medicine, shelter and food supplies. But much more recently they’ve also started focusing on delivering education as part of the emergency response. This shift presents a great opportunity for the education sociologist to think through how some of the established ideas about education as a social institution have fundamentally changed over time.
The second big part of her focus is on the changing content of schooling since the end of World War II. She’s reviewing content of social science textbooks from countries around the world, with a particular focus on how they’ve changed to become more international and globalized, focusing on human rights and multicultural issues.
Lerch just finished her Ph.D. at Stanford in comparative education where her dissertation focused on the above topics. She’s published studies in International Sociology, The Handbook of Global Education Policy, and History Education in Divided and Post-War Societies, and has forthcoming studies in Social Forces, the European Journal of Education, and the Palgrave Handbook of Textbook Studies.
She came to UCI because of the top-notch reputation and rankings for the sociology department, and the synergies that exist between the kind of work she does and the work the UCI sociology faculty engage in. She’s part of a high impact hiring cluster which draws together faculty from across the university to work on education interventions for disadvantaged children, and she’s really passionate about the topic and excited to work with multidisciplinary faculty to make a difference.