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Dr. Laura Wangsness Willemsen

Assistant Professor of Education

Dr. Wangsness Willemsen’s teaching, research and practice is aimed at ensuring schooling better supports equity and well-being in both US and international contexts. She serves as Assistant Professor of Education and Dissertation Coordinator in the Department of Doctoral Studies in Education, where she focuses on supporting Ed.D. students’ dissertation research as well as teaching courses on research methods and epistemologies, equity and diversity, and educational leadership. Dr. Wangsness Willemsen recently created the department’s Dissertation Dashboard. This website outlines the steps of the dissertation process, includes templates and rubrics for each chapter, features resources and coaching videos on writing and analysis, and serves to demystify the dissertation process and product. She is proud to have served as advisor or committee member for dozens of Concordia’s Ed.D. students.

 

Dr. Wangsness Willemsen’s current research project, together with Dr. Elisheva Cohen of Indiana University, examines the experiences of public elementary school teachers navigating distance, hybrid and in-person teaching during the various phases of the Covid-19 pandemic. Their research – funded by American Educational Research Association, Indiana University and Concordia University – has been highlighted in diverse outlets ranging from Ed Week and USA Today, to the American Anthropological Association and Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies. She continues her longitudinal research on issues related to schooling, gender and life history in Tanzania together with Judith Merinyo, research for which she was awarded the Gail Kelly award for outstanding dissertation from Comparative and International Education Society in 2017. Since arriving at Concordia, she has also examined the interplay of learning and design with Dr. Ric Dressen in partnership with Wold Architecture and has served as a co-PI with Dr. Jeanne Lojovich on a study of physical therapy providers’ experiences with issues of equity in healthcare.

 

As an international education practitioner working at the nexus of schooling, international development and gender, Dr. Wangsness Willemsen has consulted with institutions such as United Nations Girls’ Educational Initiative, United States Agency for International Development, World Vision, CARE International, Miske Witt and Associates, and Project Zawadi Tanzania. Previously she was at the University of Minnesota, where she taught comparative education courses, worked on issues of educational equity and teacher training, co-led a study of adolescence and gender relations in Tanzania with Dr. Joan DeJaeghere, and led qualitative research for a longitudinal, mixed-methods evaluation of educational initiatives for marginalized youth in East Africa. 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 international development; anthropology of education; qualitative methodologies; narrative inquiry; teacher education; educational leadership.

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS

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

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

Wangsness Willemsen, L. & Shah, P. (2021).  Gender in Comparative and International Education: Gender as noun, adjective and verb. In T. Jules, R. Shields & M.A. Thomas (Eds.), Bloomsbury Handbook of Theory in Comparative and International Education (pp. 167-182). Bloomsbury.

 

Merinyo, J. and Wangsness Willemsen, L. (2021).  Turning off the Recorder:  Centering caring relationships in research with youth.  In D. Levison, M. Maynes & F. Vavrus (Eds.), Children as Subjects, Objects and Agents: Innovative Approaches to Research Across Space and Time. Palgrave Macmillan Press.

 

Wangsness Willemsen, L. & Cohen, E. (2020, July 21).  Teachers are caring more than ever:  Here are 4 ways to care for them.  Education Week.  Retrieved from:  https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/07/22/teachers-are-caring-more-than-ever-but.html

 

Wangsness Willemsen, L. & Cohen, E. (2020, May 5). Teachers point to ways Minnesota can build back better. MinnPost.  Retrieved from: https://www.minnpost.com/community-voices/2020/05/teachers-point-to-ways-minnesota-can-build-back-better/

 

Cohen, E. & Wangsness Willemsen, L. (2020, May 1).  The Education at our doorstep:  Expanding the reach of education in emergencies.  Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies.  Retrieved from:  https://inee.org/blog/emergency-our-doorstep-expanding-reach-education-emergencies?fbclid=IwAR1hJWdtFFPbRoKbZGH7sYrbDMLuoKXklE8QWdkJgBjZc2MRINYXfL-GNDY

 

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.  Miske Witt and Associates.

 

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.) 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.) 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.  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.  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. 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.  University of Minnesota, Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development.

 

SELECTED PRESENTATIONS and INVITED LECTURES

 

Wangsness Willemsen, L., Cohen, E., Camacho, M., Freeman, G., and Marks, R. H. Caring through Crisis and Uncertainty: The Experiences of Public K-12 Teachers During the Coronavirus Pandemic.  Paper presentation at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, November, 2020.

 

Amankulova, Z., Cohen, E., Huaman Sumida, E., Jehingar, R., and Wangsness Willemsen, L. Education Research Implications during Covid-19:  A facilitated conversation for education scholars.  Invited panel presentation at the University of Minnesota, May, 2020.

 

Farrell, A., Nikoi, A. & Wangsness Willemsen, L. New borderlands in comparative and international education teaching [Panel session cancelled due to Covid-19]. Paper presentation at the Comparative and International Education Association Annual Meeting, Miami, April, 2020.

 

Wangsness Willemsen, L. & Ndesamburo Stainsby, A. Youth agency, peer influence and sexual relationships:  An analysis from four Tanzanian secondary schools.  Paper presented at the Gender and Education Association International Conference, Portsmouth, UK, June, 2019.

 

Merinyo, J. & Wangsness Willemsen, L.  Centering relationships and crossing borders in narrative inquiry.  Paper presentation at the Comparative and International Educational Society Annual Meeting, San Francisco, April 2019.

 

Nikoi, A., Wangsness Willemsen, L., and 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 presentation to MA students at Nord University, Norway, November, 2017.

 

Bamattre, R. and 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.

 

Address: AD 333

Email: wangsnesswillemsen@csp.edu (Preferred)