College Launches Urban Specialization for Graduate Students

January 12, 2011

Graduate students in the College of Education now have an opportunity to study issues of urban education in greater depth through the new Urban Specialization.

The interdepartmental sequence of courses is primarily for doctoral students who have a particular interest in teaching and conducting research within the contexts of urban communities.

Students are required to earn 12 credits from the selection of new and revised classes on topics such as Teaching in Urban Contexts, Critical Race Theory in Education, and Diverse Families and Communities. They also must complete an internship developed in consultation with their advisor with a focus on urban education.

Addressing inequities in education for students of color, English language learners and young people growing up in under-resourced communities is a major priority of the Michigan State University College of Education. The college also has a specialized undergraduate teacher preparation program focused on education in urban areas.

“We have said urban education is important, and this is one thing we are doing to make an impact,” said Christopher Dunbar, coordinator of the Urban Specialization for graduate students and a professor of educational administration.

“We want school districts to know that MSU is a place where educators can gain the knowledge and insight to successfully teach, lead and conduct research in urban school environments.”

The college helped launched the initiative this fall (2010) with the first in a series of guest lectures that will emphasize urban research and perspectives. Ronald F. Ferguson (pictured), a racial achievement gap expert at Harvard University, gave presentations at MSU on Oct. 13, 2010. Pedro Noguera, a well-known urban sociologist at New York University, is expected on Jan. 26, 2011 and Lorraine Monroe, whose institute trains public school leaders around the country, plans to speak on March 23, 2011.

The Urban Education Perspectives lecture series is funded by the MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives and the College of Education.


Students interested in the Urban Specialization for graduate students may contact Christopher Dunbar at