Gita Steiner-Khamsi (1956 - )

Steiner-Khamsi Gita

Short Biography & Significant Contribution

Iranian by birth, Swiss by upbringing, and U.S. citizen by naturalization, Gita Steiner-Khamsi is a Professor of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. She was trained at the University of Zurich, from which she holds a masters (1979) and PhD (1983) in Social Psychology. The first ten years of Dr. Steiner-Khamsi's professional career were spent in the Ministry of Education in the Canton of Zurich, Switzerland working on multicultural and anti-racist education. By virtue of comparing Swiss multicultural education policy with that of the UK, Canada, and the US, Professor Steiner-Khamsi developed a keen interest in comparative education methods and theories. Before arriving at Teachers College in 1995, she taught at the Universities of Basel and Zurich (Switzerland) and was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California Berkeley; Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto, Institute of Education, and University of London' Institute of Education. Serving as a bridge between the formative era of George Bereday, Freeman Butts, Harold Noah, and Max Eckstein and the current period of great growth and vibrant activity, Steiner-Khamsi provides transformative leadership to the programs in international and comparative education (International Educational Development & Comparative and International Education). In 1996, she helped build the Department of International and Transcultural Studies (formerly the Department of Philosophy and Social Sciences).

As her multicultural background and varied professional experience suggest, Prof. Steiner-Khamsi's work spans the globe and runs the gamut from the academic to the applied. She has authored, edited, or co-edited seven books and close to 100 articles and book chapters in nine different languages (English, German, French, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Mongolian, Chinese, and Japanese). Outside of academia, Steiner-Khamsi has consulted on educational projects and evaluations in Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Tibet, Mozambique, and Russia, and lectured in over 25 countries. A firm believer in connecting theory and practice, Prof. Steiner-Khamsi's publications and presentations are rich with references to the cannon of the field, its most current intellectual trends, and cutting edge technical reports.

Professor Steiner-Khamsi's academic research primarily concerns three areas. First, she has made valuable contributions to international education policy studies, with a specific focus on education sector strategies/reviews in a development context, school reform and teacher education reform (including teacher salary reform). Second, she has actively engaged in the academic debates surrounding the issue of comparative methodology, emphasizing the value of multiple case-study methodology, mixed methods designs, indicator research, and applied program evaluation. Finally, and perhaps more importantly, Professor Steiner-Khamsi has made significant theoretical contributions by advancing research on globalization and transnational policy borrowing/lending, education and revolution/political change, disenfranchised minorities and schooling, social and institutional network analysis of international organizations, and colonial and postcolonial studies. Her teaching of these content areas has reached beyond the TC campus, as she pioneered a unique distance learning format in collaboration with the Open Society Institute to equip both TC students and OSI staff abroad with knowledge and skills related to program evaluation and policy analysis, increasing professional networks and local capacity in the process.

Beyond the theoretical, methodological, and empirical contributions of Professor Steiner-Khamsi, perhaps her greatest efforts have been spent on her students. She has been the primary advisor on 38 dissertations, with six receiving distinction from Columbia. Sixteen of her former students teach in the field of Comparative and International Education or related fields at universities such as Lehigh, University of Alaska-Anchorage, Connecticut State University, U Mass-Amherst, NYU, Northwestern, Rutgers, Virginia, and CUNY in the US and Tokyo Institute of Technology, International Christian University and Kobe University (Japan), the University of Haifa (Israel) and the University of Sydney (Australia). Countless other former students work in international aid agencies and national ministries of education, including senior positions at the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, USAID, UNESCO, and UNICEF to name just a few. Her students' dissertations and publications have extended Prof. Steiner-Khamsi's theoretical inputs through, for example, the publication of more than 20 scholarly publications on educational transfer/borrowing alone. Her striking commitment to synthesizing support for students and contribution to the field is evidenced through her early encouragement of students to establish Current Issues in Comparative Education and to actively participate at CIES and other academic conferences.

It was with many of these former students that Professor Steiner-Khamsi collaborated in 2006 to produce (with Eric Johnson) a video for CIES: "Comparatively Speaking: An Oral History of the First 50 Years of CIES." That video and Gita's tireless efforts to see to its production encapsulates her dedication to preserving our past and fostering our future. Another innovative project (developed by Sina Mossayeb), which she diligently supported, is CIEclopedia. In these and similar projects she was able to draw on her network of academics and professionals working in the field of international and comparative education either in the United States or elsewhere. With her election to CIES President in 2009 you will no doubt be hearing and reading much more about Gita Steiner-Khamsi in the coming years, preserving her legacy of important contributions to Comparative and International Education and important education reform long thereafter.

Faculty Website 
CIES 50 Years 

Educational Background

Dr. h.c. of Education, Mongolian State University of Education, Ulaanbaatar (honorary doctoral degree)(2004)

Ph.D. Social Psychology, University of Zürich, Switzerland [Dr.phil.I] (1983)

Diploma Program in Social Science Data Analysis, University of Essex, UK (1980)

M.A. Social Psychology (Majors: Social Psychology and Mathematical-Biological Psychology); Minors: Sociology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Zürich, Switzerland [lic.phil.I] (1979)

High school degree, branch: humanities (i.e., German, Latin, French, English), Holbeingymnasium Basel, Switzerland [Maturität Typus B] (1975)

Professional Background

Teachers College & Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University (1995) 2004 Promotion to Full Professor 1998 Affiliation with Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (Ph.D. sponsor) 1998 Promotion to Tenured Associate Professor 1995 Appointment as Untenured Associate Professor

Professor of Educational & Social Policy at the School of Professional Studies in Social Work and Education (tenured position), Basel (Switzerland), German: Fachhochschule im sozialen Bereich (undergraduate level) (1993-95)

Appointment at the University of Basel: Permanent Senior Lecturer (graduate level) (1993 - 1995)

Visiting Professor/Visiting Scholar (funded research) at (1988-92) (1) The University of London, Institute of Education, U.K. (6 months), (2) Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, U of Toronto (6 months), (3) University of California at Berkeley (2 years), (4) State University Campinas in São Paulo, Brazil (1 year)

Founder and Director of the Section Multicultural Education, Board of Education, Department of Educational Policy Research and School Reform, Canton of Zürich. (1979-88)

Appointment at the University of Zürich: Lecturer (graduate level) (1984 - 88)

Researcher at the Swiss Federal Polytechnical University, Zürich (ETH), Institute of Behavioral Sciences. (1979-82)

Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant in Computer Science for Social Scientists at the Institute of Social Research, University of Zürich. (1978-79)

Affiliations (associations, organizations, institutions)

Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), Vice-President (2007), President-Elect (2008), President (2009)

CIES Board of Directors (2004 - 2010)

World Council of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES), Co-chair of the Admissions & New Societies Standing Committee, since 2006

Mongolian Education Alliance (MEA), International Advisory Board Member, since 2004

UNESCO International Bureau of Education (Geneva), Member of the College of Fellows (advisory board of IBE), since 2004

Open Society Institute (Soros Foundation), Member of the Education Sub-Board for General Education (based in Budapest, Hungary), 2002 - 2005

International Association of Intercultural Education IAIE (based in Utrecht, Netherlands; 1999 - 2002), Board Member

Selected Publications

Books, Monographs and Edited Volumes:

Chisholm, Linda & Steiner-Khamsi, Gita, editors (2008, forthcoming). South-South Cooperation in Education. New York: Teachers College Press.

Silova, Iveta & Steiner-Khamsi, Gita, editors (2008). How NGOs React. Globalization and Education Reform in the Caucasus, Central Asia and Mongolia. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press (forthcoming, February 2008).

deJong-Lambert, William and Steiner-Khamsi, Gita (2007). Special Issue: Post-Cold War Studies in Education II. European Education: Issues and Studies, 38 (4), winter 2006/7, 81 pages

Steiner-Khamsi, Gita & Stolpe, Ines (2006). Educational Import in Mongolia: Local Encounters with Global Forces. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 246 pages. (Also published in Mongolian; won the Mongolian Best Book Award for non-fiction books)

Steiner-Khamsi, Gita, ed. (2004). The Global Politics of Educational Borrowing and Lending. New York: Teachers College Press, 235 pages.

Steiner-Khamsi, Gita, Torney-Purta, Judith & Schwille, John, eds (2002). New Paradigms and Recurring Paradoxes in Education for Citizenship: An International Comparison. Oxford: Elsevier Science, 295 pages.

Steiner-Khamsi, Gita (1992). Multikulturelle Bildungspolitik in der Postmoderne [Multicultural Education Policy in Postmodernity]. Opladen: Leske & Budrich.

Publications in Journals:

Steiner-Khamsi, Gita (2007). International Knowledge Banks and the Production of Educational Crises. European Educational Research Journal, 6 (3), 285-293.

Steiner-Khamsi, Gita (2006). The Development Turn in Comparative and International Education. European Education: Issues and Studies, 38 (3), 19-47.

Steiner-Khamsi, Gita (2006). The economics of policy borrowing and lending: a study of late adopters. Oxford Review of Education, 32/5, 665-678.

Steiner-Khamsi, Gita (2005). Vouchers for Teacher Education (Non) Reform in Mongolia: Transitional, Postsocialist, or Antisocialist Explanations? Comparative Education Review, 49 (2), 148-172.

Steiner-Khamsi, Gita & Quist, Hubert (2000). The Politics of Educational Borrowing: Reopening the Case of Achimota in British Ghana.Comparative Education Review, 44/3, 272 - 299.

Book Chapters:

Steiner-Khamsi, Gita, Silova, Iveta, and Johnson, Eric M. (2006). Neoliberalism liberally applied: Educational policy borrowing in Central Asia. In J. Ozga, T. Seddon, and T. Popkewitz, eds., 2006 World Yearbook of Education. Education Research and Policy: Steering the Knowledge-Based Economy. New York/London: Routledge, pp. 217-245.

Steiner-Khamsi (2002). "Re-Territorializing Educational Import: Explorations into the Politics of Educational Borrowing." In Antonio Novoa & Martin Lawn, eds, Fabricating Europe: The Formation of an Education Space. Utrecht: Kluwer, pp. 69 - 86.

Steiner-Khamsi (2000). "Transferring Education, Displacing Reforms." In Jürgen Schriewer, ed., Discourse Formations in Comparative Education. Frankfurt/M & New York: Lang Publishers, pp. 155 - 187 - E.


Created: 3/14/2008

Updated: 3/17/2008

Contributed By: Iveta Silova, Eric Johnson, and Cathryn Magno