International Education Research Initiative


The Catholic Church represents the single largest non-governmental provider of K-12 education, serving over 62 million students in over 217,000 schools in 2016. Catholic school enrollments have continued to climb globally, having doubled in the last 50 years. This expansive growth has surged most prominently in the Global South, where Catholic schools serve some of the poorest students in the world. However, the Church’s capacity at a global level is quite limited and faith-based schools tend to be systematically ignored from policy efforts and funding priorities of global institutions, despite their size and reputation for quality (Marshall, 2010).

In an effort to understand and respond to the needs of Catholic education throughout the world, the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies have jointly established an ambitious, multidisciplinary initiative aimed at understanding and responding to the needs of Catholic schools around the world. This research initiative aims to strengthen and enhance Catholic education at a global level, joining the missionary zeal of the Congregation of Holy Cross to serve the poor and vulnerable throughout the world. In these efforts, we are working in partnership with the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, which has entrusted Notre Dame to help lead a new Observatory for studying and supporting Catholic education. 

Read the article from the Kellogg Institute for International Studies.

Principal Investigators

  • Paolo Carozza
  • TJ D’Agostino 
  • Rev. Robert Dowd, CSC
  • Nicole Stelle Garnett
  • Ernest Morrell
  • Rev. Timothy Scully, CSC

Additional Faculty Participants

  • Mark Berends
  • Jaimie Bleck
  • William C. Mattison III

Research Affiliates

  • Rev. Cristóbal Madero, SJ
  • Nicolás Somma
  • Leonard Wantchekon
  • Quentin Wodon

TJ D’Agostino, Faculty Program Director, International Education Research Initiative
Michael Szopiak, Program Director, International Education Research Initiative


Pioneering Research: Research Priorities and Projects Underway

Research Priorities

  1. Comparative Education Policy
  2. Catholic School Effectiveness
  3. Mission Distinctiveness and Identity

Research Projects Underway

  1. Civic Education in Kenya
  2. Chile’s ‘Machuca’ Students: Long Term Effects of Social Integration in Elite Schools
  3. Historical Impact of Catholic schools in the African Diaspora
  4. Comparative Education Policy

Sharing Knowledge: International Conferences & Workshops

  • Rome, Italy | April 2018: “Global Catholic Education and Integral Human Development: Setting a Social Science Research Agenda”

  • Nairobi, Kenya | June 2018: “International Catholic Education Workshop”

  • Santiago, Chile | December 2018: “Educational Freedom, Autonomy, and Accountability: Lessons from Chile and the United States”

  • London, UK | March 2019: “Contemporary Issues Facing Catholic Schools: Lessons from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the United States”

  • Sydney, Australia | May 2019: “Freedom, Autonomy and Responsibility Conference”