Fr. Ron Nuzzi and other faculty in the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) and Remick Leadership programs, in collaboration with several universities—-both national and international—-have successfully established a new Catholic Education Special Interest Group (SIG) in the American Educational Research Association (AERA) . The first SIG for Catholic Education, it seeks to convene and engage an international cadre of scholars and practitioners dedicated to the theoretical and practical examination of Catholic schools and Catholic education. Furthermore, the SIG will allow for increased collaboration among these scholars, serving as a hub for promoting and disseminating research in the field of Catholic education.
“This is an important step in building the field of Catholic educational research. The SIG gives Catholic educational researchers a seat at the table in the world’s largest educational research organization,” says Fr. Nuzzi, IEI Fellow and director of the Alliance for Catholic Education’s Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program.
Another critical goal of the new Catholic Education SIG is to provide faculty already doing research in and on Catholic schools—-the single largest sector of the private school market—- with an academic community that can help unite their work across diverse disciplines into a national research agenda in Catholic education. The SIG “gives credence and weight to their work,” Nuzzi explains.
Twenty-five universities supported the petition put forth by Nuzzi and his colleagues to the AERA for the creation the SIG, with significant support from the deans of education at the major Jesuit universities, who helped in the recruitment of new members. Tony Bryk and Lee Shulman of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching were also key partners in this effort, having already worked with ACE in convening the Carnegie Conversation on Catholic Education held at the Carnegie Foundation at Stanford University in September 2007. The Carnegie Conversation gathered dozens of leaders in higher education, business and philanthropy to discuss the need for developing a field of Catholic education. It has spurred several national initiatives and conferences dedicated to this issue both at the University of Notre Dame and other Catholic colleges and universities throughout the country. The new SIG is one such response.
In its efforts to foster this academic community of Catholic education scholars, the newly founded Catholic education SIG will host a website and list-serve, publish a quarterly newsletter, and solicit proposals for presentation at the AERA. Leadership positions will be created within the SIG and elections for them held at a future meeting of the SIG. As is the case with the conception of the SIG, ACE faculty are likely to fill many of these leadership roles, deepening ACE’s role as the thought leader in providing talent and resources for the revitalization of K-12 Catholic schools.