Karen Boatman

Clinical Associate Professor Emerita

After some years working in community development in Senegal, Karen Boatman began at Boston University working as the evaluator of the School of Education’s federally funded program (EPDA funds) to train new types of inner city teachers for Boston. These students were older people selected by their community organizations (such as the Urban League). The schools used as training sites were organized by parents and teachers, chartered by the state and outside the jurisdiction of the Boston Public Schools (for example) the New School for Children and the Roxbury Community School).

Boatman next contracted with the School of Education to construct the first field-based course. This attracted the interest of then Dean, Robert Dentler, who was serving on the state teacher certification board. He was successful in creating a requirement for fieldwork. In licensure programs this is called the pre-practicum. As other universities joined in the fieldwork move, competition developed to gain access to quality field sites. The Dean asked Boatman to be part of a team to develop a collaborative arrangement with school districts and agencies. This became the Consortium Council.

Boatman co-authored a new doctoral program in teacher education and taught within it. She then developed a new doctoral level course in urban education, which stressed developing programs to remedy problems. More than half of each class’s students developed proposals for their schools that were funded. Many of the other proposals were ultimately funded when revised with my feedback. This success with proposals receiving funding continued in a course on community education with fieldwork, which she taught for various program requirements over thirty years.

During a reorganization Boatman coauthored a new department (curriculum development, implementation and evaluation; now called curriculum and teaching), presented a new doctoral program for it (which she coauthored) at an ASCD conference and taught doctoral courses within it. Her particular focus was on the politics of and strategies for curriculum implementation.

She then was asked to develop an alternative curriculum and methods course for undergraduate teacher education using both community agencies and schools for fieldwork. This full time semester course quickly drew the majority of undergraduates (the other alternatives were fieldwork only in urban schools or fieldwork only in suburban schools).

Boatman was then asked to develop an office for intercultural education which included training undergraduates for the review of reading materials for schools especially for racial and gender inclusion. This review was sought by a number of school systems when they were reviewing new purchases.

Next she developed a required course for all education majors focusing on class, race, and status, economics, politics, law and ethics and using fieldwork. Although originally a 6 credit one semester course, it is now a year long course for juniors and seniors offering 2 credits each semester which she continued to teach each year.

In 1981 the Associate Dean asked her to select a team and develop a new graduate program in international development. This was at a time when the university was shrinking to excellence. Unique among such graduate programs this one goes beyond the scholarship of development and requires the study of the practice of development as well. The program requires a thesis. She has been the coordinator of this graduate program since its approval by the Board of Trustees in 1983 and teach some of its courses. Many of its graduates serve in high positions with international donor organizations and with NGOs. Partly because of this program she became the national chair of the Honor Society of International Scholars and established a chapter at Boston University.

In 1985 the faculty approved a requirement that all undergraduate students have a significant cross-cultural experience before graduation. A structure called the Professional International Linkage Program was created. For this Boatman developed a field-based program in England with the University of Liverpool and Reading University, in Israel first with the University of Tel Aviv and then with the University of Haifa and in Niger with the then University of Niamey. These field-based programs explored the political, economic and social factors as they affected the education of children and youth in the communities around the universities. The Niger program is now administered by BU’s International Programs and the core course is a School of Education course on education and development. As a result she became the first educationist as a member of the research associates affiliated with the university’s African Studies Center.

In the late 1980s the faculty of SED reorganized its structure and processes and created the Academic Instruction Committee, which had responsibility for approving all academic courses and requirements and mediating disputes. Boatman served as the first chair of this committee.

Her work with the Consortium Council as its agency cluster coordinator and with the city of Cambridge’s Human Services Department allowed the opportunity to develop an extensive group of educational agencies. These became the foundation of a part of the freshmen courses ED100/101. Agency based educators provided living examples for our students on careers in education in addition to classroom teaching.

In addition to continuing the aforementioned activities, there is now an extensive group of alumni for whom she is developing a network for mutual consulting and other forms of support. One group of alumni is involved with the growth of a Cambridge based NGO involved with female schooling and literacy in south Asia. Boatman served on the board. A key mission is the improvement of primary schooling in our schools as a model. As the world moves to provide universal primary education, the quality of that education is being ignored to the determinant of the children.

B.A. University of Michigan

SED IE600: Perspectives on Education for Development

SED IE602: Practicum and Seminar: The Practice of Education for Development

SED IE604: Project Seminar: Current Educational Development Issues

SED IE605: International Educational Development Thesis

SED ED410: Social Context of Education

SED ED412: Civic Context of Education

Alternatives to Classroom Public Schooling

Analysis of Current Issues in Education for Development

Analysis of Education Development Projects

Foundations of Education

Theory and Practice of Community and Nonformal Education

Perspectives on Urban Educational Development

Practicum and Seminar in Urban Educational Development

“A Service-Centered Teacher Education Program” Synergist, Action, Washington, D.C., Winter, 1977.

“Origins of NCLB and its Implications for Closing the Achievement Gap”

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