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Mary Ann Maslak, Ph.D.

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 informal.”

“Dr. Maslak epitomizes what it means to be a global educator,” said Jerrold Ross, 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 interdisciplinary research.”

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 sociological perspectives.”

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.”