Faculty & Staff SpotlightDr. Laura Wangsness Willemsen

Dr. Laura Wangsness Willemsen

Assistant Professor of Education

Dr. Wangsness Willemsen’s teaching, research and practice is aimed at ensuring schooling supports equity and well-being in both US and international contexts.  In 2017, she joined Concordia’s Department of Doctoral Studies in Education, where she focuses on supporting students’ doctoral research as well as teaching classes on research methods, equity and diversity, and educational leadership. Since arriving at Concordia, she has continued her research on issues related to schooling, gender and youth well being in Tanzania, examined the interplay between learning and design with CSP’s Dr. Dressen in partnership with Wold Architecture, and served as a co-PI with CSP’s Dr. Lojovich on a study examining of diversity in healthcare.  Previously, she was at the University of Minnesota, where she worked on issues of educational equity, taught comparative education courses, co-led a study of adolescence and gender relations in Tanzania, and led qualitative research for a longitudinal, mixed-methods evaluation of educational initiatives for marginalized youth in East Africa. As an international practitioner working at the nexus of education, development and gender, Dr. Wangsness Willemsen has consulted with institutions such as the United Nations Girls’ Educational Initiative, World Vision, Miske Witt and Associates, CARE International, Project Zawadi Tanzania and USAID.  Prior to joining higher education, Dr. Wangsness Willemsen worked as an English language teacher and coordinator in diverse high school settings ranging from urban, suburban and rural Minnesota to Tanzania.

ACADEMIC CREDENTIALS

  • Ph.D., Educational Policy and Administration (Comparative and International Development Education concentration), University of Minnesota
  • M.Ed., Second Languages and Cultures (ELL teaching), University of Minnesota
  • BA, Anthropology and Philosophy, Luther College

AREAS of FOCUS

Inequalities, equity and education; comparative and international education; gender and development; qualitative methodologies; schooling in East Africa; pedagogies, practices and curricula.

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS

  • Comparative and International Education Society
  • American Educational Research Association
  • American Anthropological Society
  • Gender and Education Association
  • American Evaluation Association
  • Project Zawadi Board of Directors

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

Wangsness Willemsen, L. & Shah, P. (Forthcoming).  Tracing gender in Comparative and International Education: Gender as noun, adjective and verb. In forthcoming T. Jules, R. Shields & M. Thomas (Eds.), Bloomsbury Handbook of Theory in Comparative and International Education. New York:  Bloomsbury  Press.

Merinyo, J. and Wangsness Willemsen, L. (Forthcoming).  Centering caring relationships: Lessons from longitudinal youth research in Tanzania.  In forthcoming D. Levison, M. Maynes & F. Vavrus (Eds.) edited volume.

Wangsness Willemsen, L. (2018, August 24). Lessons from LeBron: Innovation and supports in service to students. MinnPost.  Retrieved from:https://www.minnpost.com/community-voices/2018/08/lessons-lebron-innovation-and-supports-service-students/

Wangsness Willemsen, L., Kade, S., & Miske, S. (2017).  Happy Readers Literacy Initiative Report.  Saint Paul, MN:  Miske Witt and Associates.  Retrieved from:  http://www.happy-readers.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Happy-Readers_MWAI-Final_24March2017.pdf

Wangsness Willemsen, L. & Ndesamburo Kwayu, A. (2016).  Peers, sexual agency and relationships in Tanzania.  In J. DeJaeghere, J. Josic & K. S. McCleary (Eds.), Education and youth agency:  Qualitative case studies in global contexts.  (pp. 173-191.) Basel, Switzerland:  Springer International.

DeJaeghere, J., Wiger, N. P., & Wangsness Willemsen, L. (2016). Broadening educational outcomes: Social relations, skills development, and employability for youth. Comparative Education Review, 60(3), 457-479.

Wangsness Willemsen, L. (2016).  Embodying Empowerment:  Gender, schooling, relationships and life history in Tanzania.  (Doctoral dissertation.) Minneapolis, MN:  University of Minnesota.

Willemsen, L. W., & DeJaeghere, J. (2015). Learning to negotiate sexual relationships: A girls’ school in Tanzania as a restrictive and agentic site. Gender and Education, 27(2), 183-197.

Monkman, K. & Willemsen, L. (2015). CARE Cambodia: Patsy Collins Trust Fund Initiative Final Evaluation Report for CARE USA.  Saint Paul, MN:  Miske Witt & Associates.

Willemsen, L.W., Krause, B., Jaafar, A. and Pellowski Wiger, N., with Chapman, D. and DeJaeghere, J.  (2014). The MasterCard Foundation Learn, Earn, and Save Initiative: Year 3 synthesis report for Parka.  Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development.

Miske, S., with Vavrus, F., Wilkinson, M. & Willemsen, L. (2013).  Exploring the Gendered Dimensions of Teaching and Learning. Background paper for United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative’s contribution for Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2013/2014. http://www.ungei.org/infobycountry/files/Working_Paper_2014.02_(Gender_Dimensions)_FINAL.pdf . New York, NY:  United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative.

Willemsen, L., Krause, B., Timiri, H., Weiss, T., & Nkhoma, M., with Chapman, D., DeJaeghere, J., & Pellowski Wiger, N.  (2013). The MasterCard Foundation Learn, Earn, and Save Initiative: Synthesis report for Parka Year 2 Findings. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development.

Willemsen, L., Krause, B., & Weiss, T., with Chapman, D., DeJaeghere, J., and Pellowski Wiger, N.  (2012). The MasterCard Foundation Learn, Earn, and Save Initiative: Synthesis report for Parka.  Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development.

SELECTED PRESENTATIONS and INVITED LECTURES

Wangsness Willemsen, L. & Ndesamburo Kwayu, A. Youth agency, peer influence and sexual relationships:  Qualitative studies at 3 Tanzania secondary schools.  Paper to be presented at the Gender and Education Association Conference, June 2019, Portsmouth, UK.

Merinyo, J. & Wangsness Willemsen, L.  Centering relationships and crossing borders in narrative inquiry.  Paper presentation as part of  “The turn towards narrative methodologies in comparative and international education” panel at the Comparative and International Educational Society Annual Meeting, April 2019, San Francisco.

Nikoi, A., Wangsness Willemsen, L. & Bamattre, R.  Moving beyond quotes and anecdotes:  Communicating qualitative evidence in evaluations.  Workshop and paper presentation at Communicating Evidence for Sustainable Development Conference in Wageningen, the Netherlands, April, 2018.

Wangsness Willemsen, L. An introduction to qualitative data analysis.  Invited lecture to MA students at Nord University, Norway.  November, 2017.

Bamattre, R. & Wangsness Willemsen, L.  Teaching comparative education to undergraduates and non-specialists:  Navigating the epistemological waters.  Paper presented at the Comparative and International Educational Society Symposium, October, 2017, Washington, DC

Wangsness Willemsen, L. & Ndesamburo Kwayu, A.  Peers, agency and relationships in Tanzanian Secondary Schools.  Paper presented at Comparative and International Education Society, March 2017, Atlanta, Georgia.

Monkman, K. & Wangsness Willemsen, L.  Community Survival in northeast Cambodia:  Educating girls as a strategic element of CARE’s work.  Paper presented at Comparative and International Education Society, March 2016, Vancouver, British Columbia.

Nkhoma, M. N. & Wangsness Willemsen, L.  Learning and practicing care in a Tanzanian secondary school.  Paper presented at Comparative and International Education Society Conference, March 2015, Washington, DC.

Wangsness Willemsen, L.  Life history as a methodology for CIE:  Possibilities, tensions and an example from Tanzania.  Paper presented at Comparative and International Education Society Regional Conference, October 2014, Bloomington, Indiana.

Wangsness Willemsen, L. & Nikoi, A.  Enacting intrinsic empowerment.  Paper presented at Comparative and International Education Society, March 2014, Toronto, Ontario.

Nikoi, A., Kahuria, A., Johnstone, C., Eschenbacher, H., & Willemsen, L.  Toward a model of experiential, field-based and supportive learning in formal and non-formal education programs in East Africa.  Paper presented at International Interdisciplinary Conference, June 2013, Nairobi, Kenya.

Wangsness Willemsen, L. & DeJaeghere, J.  Tanzanian girls negotiating transactional sex, adolescent desire and material needs.  Paper presented at Gender and Education Conference, April, 2013, London, UK.

Wangsness Willemsen, L., Nikoi, A., & DeJaeghere, J. The role of peer and adult relationships in empowering youth in education. Paper presented at Comparative International Education Society, March, 2013, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Weiss, T., Willemsen, L., Nikoi, A., & Nkhoma, M. Using youth narrative vignettes to examine the implementation of youth entrepreneurship education in Sub Saharan Africa. Paper presented at Comparative and International Education Society, March, 2013, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Cakici, H., Pellowski Wiger, N. & Willemsen, L.  Multi-cultural data collection and analysis in a dynamic and complex environment.  Paper presented at American Evaluation Association, October, 2012, Minneapolis, Minnesota.