Syracuse University joins Florida International University (FIU) and Arizona State University (ASU) in securing a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support students pursuing doctoral degrees in special education.
The grant, along with matching funds, will support a total of 26 doctoral students in Project INCLUDE (INclusive Consortium of Leaders in Urban Disabilities Education) in the School of Education and at FIU and ASU. Eight doctoral students will be funded at Syracuse, and they will research ways to address the needs of culturally diverse students with disabilities in inclusive urban settings. A national recruiting effort is underway to attract a cohort of applicants who will begin the program in fall 2020.
Universities and school districts face shortages of special education faculty, particularly those who are prepared to work with culturally and linguistically diverse students with disabilities. Project INCLUDE will bolster the ranks of university faculty preparing future teachers for diverse and inclusive classrooms.
“Project INCLUDE will be a leader in creating the next generation of doctoral leaders in inclusive education,” says Beth Ferri, professor of inclusive education and coordinator of the doctoral program in special education in the School of Education.
“To address some of the most pressing issues facing special education, including the school-to-prison nexus and the overrepresentation of students of color in segregated classrooms, there is an urgent need for teacher educators who possess the knowledge and skills to implement culturally sustaining inclusive practices and to improve outcomes of multiple-marginalized students with disabilities in urban schools.”
Co-principal investigators on this grant project are Associate Professor Christy Ashby and Assistant Professor Julia White from the department of Teaching and Leadership in the School of Education.
By recruiting a diverse cohort for the program, Project INCLUDE will help to diversify special education faculty. Research has shown that diversifying the faculty increases the likelihood of success among all students.
Students accepted into one of these doctoral programs will work with expert researchers and their doctoral peers at all three universities. Travel funding will be provided to present joint research projects, and annual research forums will bring students from the three institutions together.