Office of Diversity and Global Engagement

Diversity Projects




A Historical Analysis of Indigenous Involvement in AERA and ASEE

The purpose of this project are to understand the landscape of AERA and ASEE for Indigenous scholars and determine how each professional society can engage Indigenous scholars more effectively. This research will also lead to new knowledge about the contributions of Indigenous scholars to the educational research community.

Stephanie Masta,

Connecting Identity and Place: Understanding Indigenous Graduate Student Experiences in STEM

This project is a longitudinal qualitative study on the experiences of Indigenous graduate students in an Indigenous-focused STEM cohort. The research from this project could lead to best practices in creating academic environments that best support Indigenous students’ development socially, academically, and professionally.

Stephanie Masta,

Center for Research and Equipment for Assistive Technology in Education

The Center for Research and Equipment for Assistive Technology in Education (CREATE) opened for faculty and students in the College of Education at Purdue University to use in Fall of 2021. Multiple classes utilize both the center located in Beering Hall as well as the mobile carts to demonstrate assistive technology in courses. Pre-service teachers also have access to check out resources and equipment for use with students in their field experiences. CREATE stemmed from a need for students and faculty to have access to both pre-made assistive technology and make-and-take assistive technology to provide high quality instruction for each and every student. The center was established in 2021 with $100K funding from the Purdue Instructional Equipment Grant.

Jennifer Elaine Smith,

Culturally Adapted Parenting Intervention to Address Autism Spectrum Disorders among Burmese American Families

This study seeks to develop a culturally adapted intervention to address the growing needs among Burmese American caregivers who have children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Phase I of the project engages with impacted families, clinicians, as well as community leaders to understand the help-seeking experiences among Burmese families. Phase II of the project examines the preliminary efficacy and feasibility of an 8-week intervention that seeks to increase healthy literacy, parenting self-efficacy, and social support among Burmese caregivers of children with ASD.

Xiang Zhou, PhD, LP,

Dana Middle School Project

This engagement project, funded by an anonymous donor in the San Pedro/Harbor area of Los Angeles, is directed specifically at Black students who are underrepresented in the school’s gifted and talented education programming. Interventions are in the planning stage. Dr. Olenchak is the lead for the project.

F. Richard Olenchak,

Future Matters

Future Matters is a nonprofit organization committed to the skill and academic development of students grades 7th-12th from historically marginalized and disadvantaged communities in South Bend, IN. We support students in their pursuit of their postsecondary educational and career goals by providing the guidance, mentorship, and resources needed for success. Our main focus as an organization is to expose our students to as many postsecondary career and educational paths and to equip them with the skills and resources needed to successfully access the educational and career paths that they believe to be the best fit for them. For our students wishing to attend college, we expose them to a wide variety of college environments by way of fully funded campus visits and college trips. We also provide support in the form of college prep courses and resources (e.g. tutoring and vouchers for standardized tests prep courses). Similar resources are offered to our students aspiring to be college athletes, adding resources (funding for participation in sports camps, film development, and general exposure) needed to be appropriately recruited by collegiate athletic programs. Lastly, we expose our students to career opportunities related to skills and trades by arranging campus tours at local businesses as well as internship opportunities.

Dr. Terron Phillips,

Ongoing Diversity Projects in College of Education Academic Services

  1. Ivy Tech transfer recruiting for diverse students: The direct admit process was recently approved, and we will target recruiting at Lafayette and Indianapolis as a significant number of students in Indianapolis already travel to IU Bloomington for degree completion.
  2. Purdue Polytechnic High School recruiting: PPHS recruiting and additional site-specific visits in Merrillville, Fort Wayne, and Indianapolis will take place.
  3. Passport Project – We are working to secure funding and support opportunities to reduce the barriers in encouraging diverse students to participate in Study Abroad experiences.
  4. Holmes Scholars – Career support and mentoring development program for promoting diversity and excellence in graduate students.

Jennifer W. Barce,

Purdue CDF Freedom School Program

The Purdue CDF Freedom School Program pilot operated for the first time in West Lafayette in the Summer of 2023 in collaboration with First United Methodist Church, who served as a site sponsor. Freedom School is a free six-week, literacy-based summer program for students in grades K-12 (locally we targeted K-5). The mornings start daily with a Harambee celebration (Kiswahili for let’s pull together) and following are dedicated to the integrated reading curriculum, which is based on the overarching program theme of I Can Make a Difference! With each week having a unique subtheme; Week 1 (…in myself), Week 2 (…in my family), Week 3 (…in my community), Week 4 (in my country), Week 5 (…in my world), and Week 6 (…with hope, education, and action). The afternoons consist of various activities including STEM engagement, creative writing, field trips, and social action activities. Freedom School encourages a love of reading and learning through a culturally diverse curriculum. The Integrated Reading Curriculum affirms our scholars with engaging literature and exposure to the broader community through addressing an array of local and global social justice topics . Our site hires college-aged students (primarily preservice teachers) to teach and mentor our scholars in classrooms with a 1:10 teacher to student ratio. During the six weeks, we also encourage the parents of our scholars to be engaged in their child’s learning through weekly empowerment workshops. In summer 2023 we were proud to partner with the Indy Hunger Network to incorporate the Cooking Matters program within our parent sessions. Our continued goal for this project would be for it to serve as a community-based summer clinic and informal training site where PSTs can practice implementing teaching strategies and techniques acquired from coursework, graduate students apply coaching and qualitative inquiry skills under the guidance of faculty who have opportunities to work collaboratively to address various issues of our participants and stakeholders related to: 

  • Children’s reading attitudes, motivation, and proficiencies,
  • Family/Parent Involvement, literacy, and language practices,
  • PSTs dispositions and beliefs around culturally relevant teaching practices and practical experience with relationship building, 
  • Church involvement, perceptions of ministry work, antiracist pedagogies, supporting and strengthening collaborations of faith-based sponsors of Freedom Schools

Project website:

Lead/PI: Dr. Breanya Hogue

Executive Director/Lead Pastor: Duane Carlisle

Co-PIs: Dr. Christy Wessel-Powell, Dr. Ofelia Scheppers, Dr. Michelle Fry, Dr. Amber Neal-Stanley, Dr. Signe Kastberg, Dr. Laura Bofferding, 

Research Team: Mengying Xue, Sara Luo, Tirtha Karki, Muna Sapkota, Eloisa Maria Cayanan Nuguid, Dr. Araba Ayiaba Ziekpor Osei-Tutu

Breanya Hogue,

Underrepresented Students in Gifted & Talented Education: Positive Psychology Identification & Service 

This is a 5-year, approximately $3 million research project in year 2 that is funded by PL 107-110 V – The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Grant Program of the U.S. Department of Education. The project applies Positive Psychology interventions in a Dynamic Assessment approach as a means for identifying students who are typically underrepresented in school programs targeting gifted and talent development education. Depending on results at 4 schools scattered around the nation, we hypothesize that this method for identification can replace traditional testing measures such as IQ for unmasking hidden ability among students of color, those with disabilities, and those from challenging socioeconomic environments, the ones often excluded from school gifted education programming. (Dr. Olenchak serving as PI, while Drs. Seward and Traynor are co-PIs at Purdue, and Dr. Arnstein is the post-doc research associate. They are partnering with co-PI Dr. Ophélie Desmet at Valdosta State University in Georgia)

F. Richard Olenchak,

Using AR to promote learning at local after school program

This project team is using augmented reality (AR) to promote environmental sustainability among underrepresented students at a local after school program in Lafayette, Indiana. William R. Watson, professor of learning design and technology (LDT) in the College of Education, is the director of the Purdue Center for Serious Games and Learning in Virtual Environments. He oversees the environmental sustainability service project with three LDT doctoral students, Deepti TagareAnthony Ilobinso, and Chi-Jia Hsieh, who designed, developed, and facilitated the project. Funded by the College of Education’s Diversity Fellow grant led by Dolby, aimed to promote an awareness of environmental sustainability among diverse students (ages 6-9 years) by holding workshops at the Hanna Community Center in Lafayette, IN.

The team augmented-reality (AR) based hands-on activities, storytelling, and play based learning. During these sessions, the young learners were virtually transported to a wetland habitat where they explored the flora and fauna and were engaged in specially designed AR activities that focused on educating them about recycling and the reuse of waste materials.

The primary goal was to create awareness about environmental sustainability among diverse students from local minority communities while also offering them the opportunity to interact with an emerging technology like augmented reality. The team realized AR is exceptionally well-suited for promoting learning within the flexible and relaxed contexts found in after school programs. The Purdue team is currently analyzing the collected data, and the next steps involve synthesizing the findings and sharing them through academic publications and conference presentations.

William Watson,

Global Engagement Projects





CILMAR (Center for Intercultural Learning, Mentoring and Research) is leading a campus wide initiative to develop undergraduate students’ Intercultural Competencies (IC). As a first step CILMAR is doing inventories of what programs, activities, courses, and assessments are currently underway in colleges aimed at this goal. In order to achieve this goal, Purdue faculty are mapping their courses to ICs. The key impetus for inviting the COE to join this project was our Strands document (which details the philosophical underpinning of our teacher education program), which was identified as being linked to ICs. CILMAR is interested in our mapping to the AACU rubric, but also in how we can extend it, using the Strands, to be unique to the COE and relate to our strengths in social justice (SJ), as they are interested in the intersection of IC and SJ. It is expected that the COE will provide leadership in this campus wide mapping project. CILMAR provided $25,000 in funds for our use. In addition to the lead personnel faculty in Elementary Education are also facilitating the project: Laura Bofferding, John Broome and Virak Chan. Initial steps are completed and the on-going work of mapping courses and identifying assessments will continue in fall 2023.

Lead personnel: Stephanie Oudghiri and JoAnn Phillion (Curriculum Studies)

Stephanie Oudghiri,

Global Social Justice in Education

Global Social Justice in Education (GSJE) was a virtual intercultural community of education scholars from seven countries (China, Kenya, Nepal, Tanzania, Turkey, U.S., and Zambia). The GSJE community engaged in bi-weekly meetings with synchronous activities, including intercultural collaborative work and asynchronous experiences such as reflecting on social justice. GSJE included more than 50 U.S. students and 100 international scholars. GSJE was innovative in theoretical perspectives and practical applications, drawing on intercultural competency (e.g., Deardoff, 2006), social justice in education (e.g., Cazden, 2012), communities of practice (e.g., Lave & Wenger, 1991), and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UN, 2015). We collectively conducted transnational intercultural research (Shad, 2022) that resulted in multiple publications and presentations. We are currently finalizing “Exploring Global Social Justice with International Scholars through Collaborative Activities,” an edited book featuring 25 intercultural activities focused on global social justice.

  • Faculty: Jill Newton, JoAnn Phillion
  • Recent Graduates (PhD): Bima Sapkota, Lili Zhou
  • Recent Graduates (UG): Daphne Fauber, Kat Mueller
  • Current Graduate Students: Sara Luo, Muna Sapkota

Jill Newton,

Medellin Project

This engagement project, funded by a school in Medellin, Colombia, targets students who are from extremely challenged socioeconomic backgrounds as well as students who represent Indigenous cultures native to Colombia. These populations of students will be involved in a wide variety of activities using the Schoolwide Enrichment Model designed to enable development of talent and for extant talent to be scaffolded in school. Dr. Olenchah serving as lead for this project, and PhD Graduate Assistant Jhon Anthony Careth Henao is assisting. Over time, we hope to shift this engagement effort to research.

F. Richard Olenchak,

Study Abroad in Cambodia

Drs. Virak Chan and Wayne Wright led a successful study abroad trip to Cambodia from May 15 to June 2, 2023. Our group spent the first week visiting different historical and cultural sites including Angkor Wat temple complex, Preah Dak village, and the genocide museum. Our participants spent their last two weeks learning to differentiate instruction for special populations including English language learners and gifted students and practicing it through field experiences in a K-12 school in Phnom Penh. Dr. Chan, with his partnered university the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), organized a series of 9 public workshops on language learning and teaching. Facilitators of these workshops include Virak Chan, Wayne Wright, Kristen Seward, and Vikrant Chap from Purdue University, and 5 faculty members from RUPP. Participants in the workshops include more than 250 pre- and in-service teachers from different educational institution in Cambodia and our study abroad students. Drs. Chan and Wright also met and discussed opportunities for further collaboration with the rector, the dean of the faculty of social science and humanities, the associate dean of the faculty of education, and the director of the institute of foreign languages of RUPP. Purdue’s College of Education and RUPP signed a letter of intent (LOI) in 2019, which has provided our Cambodia Study Abroad program physical space to conduct joined activities with RUPP faculty and students.

Virak Chan,

Wayne E. Wright,