About ESS

Program mission, requirements, and events


The mission of ESS is 1) to provide students with the tools they need to critically analyze issues in education - formal and informal - and to examine the ways in which policy and design affect learning and teaching, and 2) to encourage students to use these tools to serve as advocates for children, especially those living in poverty, by promoting equality in a democratic society and sowing seeds for change.

Curriculum Requirements

15 hours, including a capstone research project

Introduction Course (3 credits)

ESS 33600 Education, Schooling, and Society (must be taken by the middle of junior year)

This course covers several basic questions about the nature and goals of education, its history, and theoretical explanations of influences on learning, teaching, and schooling.

Elective Courses (9 credits)

Choose 3 elective courses in 3 different disciplines (e.g., psychology, political science, history). At least two must fall into the "Education-Focused" category; the third may be selected from either the "Education-Focused" or “Education-General” lists.  One elective may be in your major field, but may not be double-counted for the major. See a full list of ESS electives.

Note that 3 credits of ESS 47602 Research Lab may be counted as an education-focused elective. Find a list of professors and their research needs here.

Alternatively, note that 3 credits of an SSLP may be counted as an education-focused elective. Contact ESS DUS Andrea Christensen for details.

Capstone Research (3 Credits)

In their senior year, all ESS Minors complete an in-depth, high-quality research project through one of three options:

In a one-semester seminar course, students learn research models and methods, discuss the social contexts of education, conduct an independent research project and write a final paper.

This seminar is offered only in the fall, but students have the option to continue their project during the spring semester through a section of ESS 47602 Research Lab for additional credit. Note that students who conduct research at an off-campus site must provide their own transportation, but we make every effort to line up carpools or sites that are within walking distance of campus.

This option is essentially a two-semester independent study. Students who have completed at least 2 credits of ESS 47602 Research Lab conduct a Thesis in ESS alongside a supervising IEI faculty member. This may be an extension of previously conducted research or a new, independent project building on the research techniques and/or content of work in a research lab.

Students who choose this option are required to submit the ESSThesisProposalContract.pdf (in consultation with their supervising faculty members) by April 15 of their junior year.

For students who are required (or choose) to write a thesis in their major. If you incorporate the study of an educational issue into that thesiswe can count it as fulfilling the ESS research requirement. We cannot double-count the credit hours, however, so students who choose this option must take an additional 3-credit course in ESS. This is a great opportunity to integrate your interests and research in your major department with ESS. 

Students who choose this option are required to submit the ESS Thesis Proposal Contract.pdf by April 15 of their junior year. If their primary thesis advisor is not an IEI/ESS faculty member, then ask one of those “core” professors to serve as a second advisor. See ESS Research Professors Brochure.pdf or contact Andrea Christensen for more information.

What are some good first steps into research?

  • Read through the ESS research brochure, which lists professors and their areas of research, and reach out to learn if they are taking undergraduates as research assistants. 

  • If you have a particular area you're interested in studying (e.g., psychology), check out that department's website for research lab opportunities.

  • Talk to a professor who teaches a course you find interesting about research in her/his area.

  • Visit CUSE (Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement), which has research advice and workshops galore.

  • Ask yourself what interests you (e.g., social justice, ed policy, how children learn) and follow that lead to find a department, professor, and research opportunity.

How can students get involved in the community through academic research?

  • ESS offers courses that allow for that:

    • ESS 20203 - Introduction to Social Problems (Fall)

    • ESS 30401 - Writing Center: Theory and Practice

    • ESS 30574 - Indian School and American Culture

    • ESS 30670 - CBL: Once Upon a Time

    • ESS 33627 - CBL: Literacy Development and Children 

    • ESS 33633 - CBL: Literacy at the Library 

    • ESS 40263 - Autism Spectrum Disorder (Spring)

    • ESS 40631 - Intro to Catechesis

    • ESS 43250 - Morality, Parenting, and Nature

    • ESS 45652 - Mexican Immigration
  • Check out the ESS research brochure to find a professor who does research in the community.

What are some topics that ESS students have studied?

  • Understanding Influences on College Students' Reading Practices (Capstone Seminar)
  • The Influence of Teacher Attitudes on the Impact of Restorative Justice in School Culture (Capstone Seminar)
  • Formation of Catholic Character and Identity in Native American Catholic Schools (ESS Thesis)
  • Pediatrician-led Counting and Reading Intentions (ESS Thesis)
  • Racial Representation in Classroom Literature (Thesis in Major)
  • Self-Esteem and Segregated Schools in Cape Town, South Africa (Thesis in Major)

2019-20 Senior Capstone Seminar 

  • Lindsay Baca, Cross-Cultural Differences in Perceived Teacher Support
  • Madison Carr, Middle School Teachers’ Knowledge and Application of Academic Self-Efficacy
  • Delaney Farwell, Increasing Access to Special Education in Catholic Schools: A Case Study of a Catholic High School
  • Nay Fernandez, Math Through the Eyes of Students
  • Collin Gortner, Civic Engagement, Religiosity, and Social Capital among Catholic School Adolescents
  • Emily Graff, Evaluation of Student Self-Regulation Following Participation in the MindfulU Program
  • Sam Kennedy, Questioning the Merits of Teacher Certification
  • Catherine Korth, Technology Use in Elementary School Classrooms
  • Natalie Stevens, Perceived Usefulness and Parental Involvement in a Local Pre-literacy Program
  • Mary Stoutenburgh, "More Than Just a Teacher”: Exploring How the Historical and Societal Narratives of Teaching Impact College Students’ Perceptions and Consideration of the Profession
  • Alli VanOverberghe, Variances in Student Beliefs about Intelligence and Effort Attribution by Math Track Placement, Gender, and Race

ESS Thesis

  • Sam Adofo, How Well Do Catholic Schools Uplift Single Parent Families?
  • Margarita Diego, Motives versus Merit: The Impact of Dynastic Rule on Higher Education Investments in the Philippines
  • Alice Felker, Facilitating Transfer to Novel Learning Contexts: A Study of Math Equivalence and Autism
  • Annie Moran, The Intersection of Queer Teacher Identities
  • Julia Randall, Auto-ethnography of Montessori Education
  • Carolina Robledo, How do Mariachi Programs in Chicago Public Schools Influence Students' Attitudes Toward School and Perception of Self?

Thesis in Major

  • Julia Allpow, Gender and Gun Violence
  • Paige Curley, The Importance of Multicultural Literature in the Modern Classroom
  • Dodam Hoang, Influence of Civic Education on Cambodian College Students
  • Si On Lee, A Kantian Foundation for Hansen's Cosmopolitan-Oriented Teacher Education
  • Emma Scheibel, Native Americans and National Parks
  • Evy Stein, Author-Text Relationships and Their #metoo Consequences
  • Honoka Suzuki, Modeling the Discrepancy in Percentile Rank of AP Scores, AP Practice Tests, and AP Class Grades in Indiana AP Statistics Classrooms



Questions? Contact Professor Andrea Christensen, ESS Director of Undergraduate Studies
achrist1@nd.edu  | Phone 574.631.3054
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