Noel F. McGinn

McGinn Noel F.

Short Biography & Significant Contribution

Noel F. McGinn is Professor Emeritus of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and was a Fellow of the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID). During his more than thirty years at Harvard, he was a professor, researcher, administrator, consultant and advisor. Far beyond Appian Way, McGinn's research and application has contributed significantly to the scope and depth of the field of international and comparative education in a global context.

Born in Colon, Panama and raised in the Panama Canal Zone, McGinn grew up with a strong awareness of issues of poverty and social justice. His research has focused primarily on issues of education and development, and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, his particular concern has been the construction of theoretical frameworks to inform policy making, utilizing education as a vehicle for country development and modernization, and promoting north-south and south-south dialogue as a means for improving educational systems.

After receiving his doctorate in social psychology at the University of Michigan in 1962, McGinn was a professor in Guadalajara Mexico for the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores del Occidente (ITESO). He then joined a Harvard University team planning the future education system of a new city in southeastern Venezuela. He returned to Harvard to join the Center for Studies in Education and Development. In 1974 he was appointed a Fellow of the newly created Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID). From 1979 to 1981 he led a team doing futures research for the Secretariat of Public Education of Mexico. On return to Harvard he was appointed Professor in the Graduate School of Education and Director of the Office of International Education. Through HIID McGinn advised ministries of education and private universities on problems of strategic and operational planning, teacher training, and policy analysis information system development. In the course of his career Dr. McGinn has served as a policy advisor to over 25 country governments in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and South Asia, as well as to non-governmental organizations and international assistance agencies, on broad strategies for improvement of public education systems.

In 1985, McGinn was named Principal Investigator directing a $10 million research project, BRIDGES, financed by USAID. During its seven years the project, working in 12 countries, compiled and synthesized previously unpublished research, wrote case studies of effective innovations, carried out four national studies of determinants of student achievement, developed two simulation games for use in training decision makers, and published more than 20 articles and a book Framing Questions, Constructing Answers: Linking Research with Education Policy for Developing Countries. McGinn's experiences acquired through HIID and other projects were incorporated into his teaching at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. For two decades, McGinn worked with cohorts of graduate students on issues and methods in strategic planning, decentralization, and policy research using case and project methods of teaching.

In 1995, McGinn was tapped to be the President of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES). Consistent with his research, the focus of the annual conference he organized was "Education and Globalization". In his view, CIES contributes to progress in education by producing rich, in-depth research for scholars to further develop theory and utilize in practical applications. Exposing the complexities of educational systems different than those one might be familiar with and thus challenging the nascent theories of international and comparative education are, according to Dr. McGinn, two of CIES's greatest contributions.

Best known perhaps for his book Informed Dialogue: Using Research to Shape Education Policy Around the World (co-authored with Professor Fernando Reimers, Praeger, 1997), McGinn is a prolific author and editor of numerous books, co-author of three national studies of educational systems in Venezuela, Mexico and Korea as well as a host of articles dedicated to educational planning and policy. His significant contributions to the field were internationally applauded in 1998 when he was awarded the Andrés Bello Inter-American Prize for Education by the Organization of American States (OAS). McGinn was the first U.S. citizen, and the first scholar based at a U.S. university, to win the award in its 30-year history.

Educational Background

PhD Social Psychology, University of Michigan

Professional Background

Profesor, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Santiago, Chile (2000- Present)

Professor of Education, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University (1982- 1997)

Fellow, Harvard Institute for International Development (1974-1996)

Lecturer on Education, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University (1966-1982)

Visiting Researcher, Fundacion Javier Barros Sierra, Mexico (1979-1981)

Research Associate, Center for Studies in Education and Development, Harvard University (in Venezuela attached to Joint Center for Urban Studies Guayana Project during 1964-65) (1964-1979)

Visiting Professor, Universidad Catolica de Chile (1971-1972)

Professor of Psychology and Director of Psychopaedagogical Research Institute, Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores del Occidente, Guadalajara, Mexico (1962-1964)

Affiliations (associations, organizations, institutions)

Board of Directors, International Center for Research in Education (1990- Present)

Board of Directors, Center for Workplace Learning, (1985-Present)

President, Northern Research Review and Advisory Group (NORRAG) (1992-1996)

President, Comparative and International Education Society (1995)

Advisory Editor, Comparative Education Review (1989-1995)

Board of Directors, Continuing Education Institute (1978- Present)

Selected Publications

Books authored (in reverse chronological order)

Toward International Cooperation in Education for the Integration of the Americas, Washington DC: Organization of American States, 1999.

Decentralization of Education: Why, When, What and How? (with T. Welsh), Paris: UNESCO, International Institute for Educational Planning, 1999.

Informed Dialogue: Using Research to Shape Educational Policy Around the World, (with F. Reimers), Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1997.

Nueve Casos para Preparar Planificadores de la Educacion, (with E. Schiefelbein), Santiago, Chile: UNESCO/OREALC, 1997.

Confronting Future Challenges: Educational Information, Research and Decision-Making, (with F. Reimers, and K. Wild), Geneva: UNESCO, International Bureau of Education, 1995.

Framing Questions, Constructing Answers: Linking Research with Educational Policy for Developing Countries, (with A. Borden), Cambridge, MA: Harvard Institute for International Development, Harvard University Press, 1995.

La Asignación de Recursos a la Educación Pública en México: Un Proceso Técnico en un Contexto Político, ,(with O. Guillermo y S. Street), México, DF: Fundación Javier Barros Sierra, 1982.

Education and Development in Korea (Studies in the Modernization of the Republic of Korea: 1945-1975,) (and D. Snodgrass, Y.B. Kim, S.B. Kim, Q.Y. Kim) Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 1980.

The Provincial Universities of Mexico: An Analysis of Growth and Development, (with R.G. King, A.R. Guerra and D. Kline), Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1971.

Build a Mill, Build a City, Build a School: Industrialization, Urbanization and Education in Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela, (with R.G. Davis), Cambridge: MIT Press, 1969.

Books edited (in reverse chronological order)

Learning through Collaborative Research: The Six Nation Education Research Project, (edited with E. H. Epstein), New York, NY: Routeledge Falmer, 2005.

Comparative Perspectives on the Role of Education in Democratization: Vol II. Socialization, Identity and the Politics of Control, (edited with E.H. Epstein), Berlin: Peter Lang, 2000.

Comparative Perspectives on the Role of Education in Democratization: Vol. I: Transitional States and States of Transition, (edited with E.H. Epstein), Berlin: Peter Lang, 1999.

International Handbook of Education and Development: Preparing Schools, Students, and Nations for the Twenty First Century, (edited with W.K. Cummings), London: Elsevier Science, 1997.

Crossing Lines: Research and Policy Networks for Developing Country Education Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996.


Created: 3/17/2008

Updated: 3/17/2008

Contributed By: Christine Harris-Van Keuren, Teachers College, Columbia University