Doctor of Education – Urban Leadership

Cities are usually characterized by diverse populations with rich communities made up of many different races, classes, languages and nationalities, and this dynamism is a chief strength of urban areas. However, urban schools typically serve populations characterized by high concentrations of poverty and therefore face difficult choices about how to allocate scarce resources. The Urban Leadership specialization is designed for educational professionals interested in exploring this dual nature of urban schools through a deep understanding of a problem of practice based in their unique context of professional practice. The Urban Leadership specialization prepares educational leaders to work in urban environments through a focus on topics, such as building a strength-based understanding of the complexities of urban communities, engaging the latest research on urban educational programs, developing strategies for program improvement, and building partnerships with families, communities and other organizations.


855.771 Approaches to Urban Education

Approaches to Urban Education introduces students to urban studies, including an examination of the nature of cities in the 21st century and theoretical approaches to understanding urban life. Students explore both the diversity that characterizes many cities and the concentrated poverty and segregation along racial and ethnic lines that are found in many urban school districts. The course examines the question of how urban education is both similar to and different from education in other geographical contexts.

855.772 Individuals in Urban Contexts

Individuals in Urban Contexts examines urban residents, with a specific focus on those populations most likely to attend public schools. Students also explore their own position relative to these populations. The course begins with a look at the expression of diversity in urban public school systems, especially around characteristics such as race, class, culture and linguistic status. Students undertake an ethnographically-informed study of the populations with which their Problem of Practice is most concerned, focused on an assets-based understanding of their context. Finally, the course helps students to examine and reflect upon their own position with respect to the identity of these populations and the categories examined in the first part of the course.

855.773 Organizations and Institutions

Organizations and Institutions takes as its object of study the school, the school system, and those governmental and non-governmental organizations most central to the educational process. How are schools and school systems best organized, and what has recent research shown about how to reorganize them to improve outcomes for urban students? What other social institutions play an important role in determining outcomes for these students? This course helps students to make sense of and to improve the organizational context impacting urban students.

855.774 Partnerships and Community Organizing

Partnerships and Community Organizing begins from the premise that schools alone are not going to solve the educational crises facing urban students, whether at the K12 level or settings such as community colleges. Building from the Organizations and Institutions course, this course examines how best to build partnerships with families, communities and other institutions to improve outcomes for urban students. What partnership models have demonstrated success in the past? What strategies have demonstrated success in involving students’ families? This course examines partnerships at the level of the school and the school district.

Contact Us

Faculty Contact
Camille Bryant, PhD

Academic Program Coordinator
Cathy Cao
(410) 516-4163