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Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies (M.Ed.)

Department of Teaching and Learning

Program Overview

Understand the complex ways in which diversity influences learning both inside and outside the classroom. The Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies degree is a 1-year master’s program centered on:

  • Developing visions for community leadership, advocacy, and action
  • Promoting equity and justice in educational contexts
  • Inserting underrepresented voices into the public arena and national policy dialogues

At the heart of the program is the understanding that one acts thoughtfully in the world and that one’s actions alter the world, requiring continuous response and learning. As Paulo Freire suggests, you will engage through this program in “reflection and action aimed at structures to be transformed.”

The Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies program offers highly individualized preparation for students who seek advanced graduate preparation for studying urban learning settings. Our curriculum for the Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies program is structured around three central themes:

  • Learning focuses on designing learning environments that draw on research on how people learn and ways designers can capitalize on diversity to enhance learning.
  • Diversity builds knowledge about the nature and definition of diversity and how it affects groups, systems, and scholarly inquiry.
  • Urban Studies explores the complex interactions among individuals, groups, and the various systems that make up the contexts of inner-city schools, metropolitan regions, and neighborhoods.

You can expect to understand educational practice in urban settings more richly and more responsibly through this program. You’ll be prepared to practice this renewed understanding in settings such as social service agencies, media organizations, or public schools—or in academic and policy settings by pursuing research.

Because the hallmark of this program is its individualized nature, there is a great deal of variability from student to student in the knowledge and coursework pursued around key learning goals, as described below:

Understand Issues of Equity and Justice
Socially just educators embrace student diversity, create inclusive educational opportunities, and continually strive to achieve equity and social justice in their educational settings and communities.

Understand Learners and Learning Communities
You'll learn to understand continuously evolving communities that have distinctive histories, cultures, discourses, language practices, and funds of knowledge as strengths. Socially just educators learn to engage with families and other community members through positive, informative, and supportive practices.

These interactions enable educators to learn from and engage with communities to address the continuing challenges of social justice, equity, and environmental sustainability.

Understand Issues Related to Learning
Promote critical consciousness of complex sociopolitical contexts, institutional and structural inequities in schools and communities and of how our cultural backgrounds and identities affect our engagement in justice and equity work.

Recognize that students’ ideas develop out of the context of their physical, social, and cultural experiences in the world. These ideas are the foundation on which learning happens and are resources for future learning.

Understand Relationships among Theory, Research, and Practice
Understand that theory, research, and practice inform one another. Thoughtful use of relevant theory and research should inform practice, and participation in research should be viewed as a productive activity that facilitates their learning and advances the profession.


There is a unique opportunity to develop a specialization that suits your research interest and needs. Possible concentrations include:

  • Poverty and Intervention
  • Language, Literacy, and Culture
  • English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • Race and Culture
  • Learning in Community and Nonprofit Settings
  • Queer Pedagogy and Practice
  • General Education: Math, English, Social Studies, and Science
  • STEM

While in the program, you will also have many opportunities take to part in community events and engage with influencers and leading experts in diversity and urban studies issues. Some examples of past engagement include participating in TEDx Vanderbilt, presenting at the Critical Race Studies in Education National Conference, and collaborating with high-profile speakers through the Peabody College Dean’s Diversity Lecture Series.

Program at a Glance

Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies

Department of Teaching and Learning

Program Director: Chris da Silva, Ph.D.
Admissions Coordinator: Angie Saylor
Admission Term: Summer and Fall
Credit Hours: 31
Priority Application Deadline: December 31* for fall entrance

* We will continue to accept applications after this date, but applications will be evaluated for admission and scholarships as space and funds are available.

Success Stories

Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies alumni typically work in traditional and charter schools around the country, policy research think tanks, and community centers and nonprofit organizations.

“I loved my time in the LDUS program. The classes I took and the people I learned from made the (very quick) year a transformative and powerful experience. I learned to face my own biases and prejudices head on, consider previously unexplored perspectives, and become a better listener.”
Laura Fittz, M.Ed. ‘17
“LDUS is a program that left me with priceless memories. I was able to gain an educational insight on urban studies and expand my mind on difficult topics regarding race, racism, and the intersection among diverse groups and cultures.”
Myron A. Lewis III, M.Ed. ‘17
“Before LDUS, I taught third grade for three years. Although my time in the classroom taught me many things about academic instruction and differentiating for academic needs, LDUS taught me how to consider the whole child and teach with each individual's unique background and experience in mind.”
Mary Catherine Lockman, M.Ed. ‘17
“The LDUS program has pushed me to think critically about problems and strive for solutions for things I would have never considered before. These classes and the community of people that have formed my support system while in this program have changed my life, the way that I think, and how I feel I must navigate through society. I am forever grateful for my time here.”
Kiara D. Smith, M.Ed. ‘17
My studies and experiences at Vanderbilt Peabody College prepared me for my role at the intersection of learning and diversity.
Corinn O'Brien-Ogren
Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies
M.Ed. '17
Strategy Manager
Birmingham Educator Foundation

100% of job-seeking Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies graduates were employed or attending graduate school within four months of graduation.

Click here to see a list of recent career placements:

Recent graduates with an M.Ed. in Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies have gone on to the following positions, among others:
  • Assistant Principal, Nashville Prep, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Consultant-Research Associate, Equal Measure, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • English Learners Curriculum Consultant, Tennessee Department of Education, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Language Arts Instructor, Academy of Hope, Washington, D.C.
  • Program Specialist, Oasis Center, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Restorative Justice Practices Facilitator, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Student Support Specialist, Belmont University, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Teacher, Jay Pritzker Academy, Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • Restorative Justice Practices Facilitator for Metro Schools, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Tennessee Department of Education English Learners Curriculum Consultant, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Educational Development Coach for the Commodores, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Boys and Girls Club - Athletic development, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Teaching in alternative schools focusing on minorities and mental health (various locations)

Alumni also have continued their education through Ph.D. programs at Purdue University, University of Washington, and Vanderbilt University.

Learn more about Peabody Career Services.

Internship Experience

Internship Experience

The internship is about understanding the urban world, acting for good, and understanding and acknowledging anew that those actions changed the world. Previous internships included:

  • Accessing Vanderbilt’s Resources: Black Cultural Center, K.C. Potter Center for LGBTQI Youth, The Women’s Center, The Office for Active Citizenship and Service, and Center for Latin American Studies.
  • Working with Local Community Organizations: Nashville Public Library—Story Corps, Civil Rights Room, Conexion Americas, Casa Azafran, Oasis Center, Dismas House, Nashville Hope Exchange, Nashville Rescue Mission.

Program Curriculum

The year-long graduate program begins with readings and discussion on critical urban geography and the particular issues associated with living in urban areas: population density, employment and unemployment, transportation, and diversities of various kinds.

The topics segue to diversities, considering race, class, gender, linguistic culture, religion, gender and sexual orientation, and the intersection that clarifies and confounds the difference diversity makes.

Core Curriculum

There is a core of six classes, totalling 16 credit hours, that your cohort will take together:

  • EDUC 6610 Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies Seminar I (3 credits in Fall)
  • EDUC 6620 Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies Seminar II (3 credits in Spring)
  • EDUC 7810 Inquiry into Contexts (3 credits in the Spring)
  • EDUC 7983 Internship in Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies  (6 credits in Fall and Spring)
  • EDUC 7992 Capstone Seminar (1 credit in Fall and Spring)

Specialization and Elective Courses

A total of 15 hours of electives are required for the Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies graduate program and at least nine hours should be related to a theme you choose.

Program Curriculum


Department faculty come to Peabody College with years of experience in the classroom and a commitment to research that supports student learning. Current faculty focus on issues of social justice and promoting equitable education for all learners, among other topics.

Ana Christina da Silva [Iddings]
  • Director, Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies
  • Professor of the Practice of Education, Department of Teaching and Learning
Corey E. Brady
  • Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education and the Learning Sciences, Department of Teaching and Learning
Nicole M. Joseph
  • Associate Professor, Mathematics Education, Department of Teaching and Learning
Luis A. Leyva
  • Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education, Department of Teaching and Learning
  • Faculty Affiliate, Department of Gender & Sexuality Studies.
Kristen W. Neal
  • Senior Lecturer, Department of Teaching and Learning