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Research Spotlight: Frank Fernandez

Q & A with Frank Fernandez, Assistant Professor in the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education

What basic questions does your research seek to answer?

What roles does higher education fulfill in society?  How does higher education work as a social institution?  In what ways do diverse groups have different experiences with higher education as a social institution?

What makes your work interesting?

I think of mass higher education as a relatively new and global phenomenon.  When we think about how higher education expanded exponentially, how it came to be seen as a way to solve social problems, and how it came to be expected to serve really diverse groups of people, then it is no surprise there are challenges that we need to address.  I think my work is about trying to identify problems or contradictions (maybe between what we say we want and what we actually do).  When writing helps people see problems and offers new understanding, it is generally interesting to students, policymakers, and professionals.

What are you currently working on?

Diversity and equity in science or STEM and graduate education; higher education’s role in knowledge production; how leaders can learn from challenges and respond to crises in ways that address inequities; reward systems and funding in higher education; education policy and inequality.