Education, Schooling, and Society (ESS)

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The University's interdisciplinary minor in Education, Schooling, and Society (ESS) studies the role of education from both national and international perspectives using the tools of the liberal arts and social sciences. ESS applies diverse approaches to crucial questions in education: the quality of schools, both public and Catholic; the degree to which families have adequate choices to ensure that their children flourish; and education in the context of society, nationally and globally.

The director of the ESS minor program is Nicole McNeil, ACE Associate Professor of Psychology and an Institute for Educational Initiatives (IEI) Fellow.



  • This interdisciplinary minor uses the tools and resources of a liberal arts perspective to reflect on, understand, and influence the role of education from both a national and international perspective.
  • ESS applies diverse disciplinary approaches to questions of central importance in education such as:
    • What is the purpose of education?
    • How does the history of the US educational system contribute to its present form and goals?
    • To what extent does education contribute to the development of the good citizen and the just society that treats all people with dignity and respect?
    • To what extent are educational opportunities equitable for all?
    • How do students develop as learners, and what factors enhance, or perhaps impede, learning?
    • How can educators reach across differences to use students' linguistic and cultural resources as foundations for learning?
    • How can we design research that begins with the problems that educators in local contexts of public and Catholic schools identify and can have a long-term impact on schools, children, and the community?
    • How can a global perspective on education broaden our understanding of social justice, human rights, intercultural communication, and peace?
  • The ESS minor encourages students to view educational issues through the lenses of distinct liberal arts disciplines, such as anthropology, English, history, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, and theology.


  • The ESS minor requires a total of 15 credit hours, with two courses (6 hours) being required and three courses (9 hours) being electives.
  • ESS students and their professors are engaged with local education, particularly in the area of parent involvement, the Center for the Homeless, and the Neighborhood Resource Center.
  • ESS seniors cap their experience by conducting original research projects covering a wide variety of topics in education—in the Senior Research Seminar. Research opportunities in the local community around the Notre Dame campus bring the seniors in closer touch with educators and school leaders in the context of the day-to-day  experiences of schooling. These can encourage the seniors' sense of engagement and service.  


  • Leadership offices for the ESS program are located on the ground floor of Carole Sandner Hall.
  • Find the ESS website at