Education Professor Brings Global Field
Work to Classroom
Globalization is transforming the field of education, providing new
research opportunities and expanding the concept of a learning
environment. “We’re exploring a wider variety of settings,” said Mary
Ann Maslak, Ph.D., Professor of Education at St. John’s
University, “including those we classify as formal, nonformal and
“Dr. Maslak epitomizes what it means to be a global educator,” said
Ph.D., Dean of The
School of Education (SOE) at St. John’s. “Her work has been
published in leading journals and has made major contributions to
the field. The grants she has been awarded have allowed her to do
trailblazing, gender-related studies that have become models for
As the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship to
pursue research study in China (2005-2006) and a Fulbright-Hayes
grant for summer study in India (2005), Dr. Maslak also has
conducted field work in Nepal and Turkey. In addition, St. John’s
has awarded Dr. Maslak a number of seed
grants, which support short-term faculty projects.
Known for her commitment to learning the languages of each culture
she studies, Dr. Maslak brings the fruits of her labors into the
classroom. “The School of Education encourages faculty to expose
students to different approaches to teaching and learning,” she
said. In class, she shares field notes, photos and video clips
while discussing her methodology and key findings.
“The seminar I took with Dr. Maslak completely changed the way I do
research,” said Natalie Hatami ’12M.S.Ed. “She showed us how
she uses qualitative and quantitative methods in her fact-finding
phase, and analyzes her findings from both anthropological and
Dr. Maslak traces her interest in other cultures to her parents. As
a child in Pittsburgh, she often accompanied them to “travelogues,”
educational events that Carnegie Mellon sponsored around the city.
“I’m eternally grateful to my parents for instilling a love of
learning in me — and introducing me to a world beyond
Pennsylvania,” she said.
After a few years teaching at middle and high schools in the United
States, she accepted a teaching position in the Republic of China
(Taiwan). While traveling in Asia, Dr. Maslak said she “became
aware of a recurring issue — that in many parts of the world,
females do not have access to a formal education.”
Hoping to unravel the reasons for this inequity, Dr. Maslak decided
to pursue graduate studies. Along with a master’s degree in
Educational Administration, she earned a dual doctorate in
Comparative and International Education and Curriculum and
Instruction at Pennsylvania State University.
Dr. Maslak came to St. John’s in 1999. “The emphasis on social
justice aligned well with my interest in the relationship between
women and education,” she said. Shortly after that, Dr. Maslak
furthered interfaculty collaboration by creating SOE’s Faculty
Forum, through which professors and graduate students share their
research and receive peer feedback.
Today, Dr. Maslak is spearheading efforts to create a new Master of
Science in Adult Education program, which will prepare students for
careers as educational trainers in both for-profit and
not-for-profit organizations. Through these varied activities, Dr.
Maslak noted, she can “contribute knowledge and experience while
pursuing my research.”