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Dr. Curtis Mason (PhD ’11) reflects on Cultural & Educational Policy Studies program

Dr. Curtis Mason (PhD ’11) reflects on Cultural & Educational Policy Studies program

Name: Dr. Curtis Mason (PhD ’11) 

Program: Cultural & Educational Policy Studies (CEPS)

How did you come to pursue your doctorate at Loyola?  What about Loyola's program appealed to you?

My then-girlfriend-and-now-wife and I were looking at graduate programs in education. She was the first one to notice the CEPS Program and as I learned more about it, I saw some areas that interested me. I had been teaching high school English, but I was most interested in studying issues of social inequalities with a focus on educational history. CEPS fit that bill. Plus, we loved the idea of studying and living in Chicago.

What parts of your coursework and experiences in the CEPS Program stand out to you?

When I was there it was such a small program that you got to know your classmates and professors very well. I felt that going into a class, everyone knew what everyone was interested in so classmates could encourage other classmates’ projects and professors could help tailor assignments to specific interests. 

Tell us about your dissertation project.

I researched the impact of the Cold War on the teaching of English. Specifically, I looked at how the National Council of Teachers of English changed its organizational goals and marketing after the passage of the National Defense Education Act (1958). This was project that started as a paper in my first CEPS course, so I was able to work on areas of it throughout the program. This focus helped me to refine my research and argument while getting continuous feedback from my professors.

What advice would you offer to new or current doctoral students?

I would encourage students to submit to conferences early in the program. There are many organizations out there that are supportive of graduate student research. For those finished with everything but their dissertation, set up a writing schedule and stick to it. I found a regular schedule of a couple of hours a night for a few days a week was more productive then trying to plan to write all day on a Saturday. 

Tell us about your current position, your research, your teaching and the other projects you are working on right now.

I’m currently an assistant professor of education at Columbia College (MO). I teach the undergraduate and graduate version of our social foundations course where I draw extensively from my CEPS background at Loyola. I’m at a teaching-focused institution, but research is encouraged. It’s been great to expand on projects that I started in courses at Loyola or pursue new areas utilizing some of the research skills I learned. Currently, I’m researching the history of alternative schools in the Kansas City, Missouri, School District during the early twentieth century.

Learn more about the PhD in Cultural & Educational Policy Studies degree program.