Global aspirations: K-12 Mandarin-English dual immersion schooling for diverse communities
Catherine Park

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of California, Berkeley

Primary Discipline

Second Language Learning/Bilingual Education
My dissertation examines 1) the trans/national and district-level political and economic conditions shaping the growth of Mandarin-English dual immersion (MEDI) schooling in the US, and 2) how differently positioned educational actors like district and school leaders, parents, teachers, and students come to experience and negotiate globally circulating values and practices around MEDI in urban contexts. In order to weave mutually imbricated macro, meso, and micro levels of analysis, I employ qualitative, discursive, and spatial methods to analyze digital media content, geospatial data, interviews, as well as ethnographic field notes and documents. Dual language immersion programs have proliferated across the US in recent years but there is a dearth of research on MEDI programs. My dissertation first traces power-making projects of the US and China that constitute the market and values around Mandarin-English immersion schooling. Then, through a case of a diverse MEDI school in an urban school district in Northern California, my study illuminates locally contingent MEDI schools as sites where geopolitical, racial, socioeconomic, and linguistic power is (re)produced through interrelated, iterative interactions between differently positioned educational actors. By privileging the variegated experiences of racially, socioeconomically, and linguistically diverse actors, however, this study also extends existing literatures to redraw new lines of stratification vis-à-vis actors? relationship to each other and to resources like Mandarin learning both in and out of classrooms. In so doing, my study highlights complex and nuanced everyday experiences of MEDI at the intersections of political economy, urban sociology, and bilingual schooling.
About Catherine Park
Catherine Park is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Berkeley School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests lie in the intersections of political economy, urban sociology, and multilingual schooling. Her dissertation illuminates how trans/national and district-level political and economic conditions constitute values around schooling that impact everyday schooling processes and language learning in dual language immersion, with Mandarin immersion as a case in point. Through multi-scalar, ethnographic approaches, Catherine seeks to uplift stories of racially, socioeconomically, and linguistically diverse communities who aspire for and experience schools that shape and are shaped by global dynamics. Her previous research project traced how ideas of globally competitive schooling interact with parental desires for novel educational programs and real estate developments in coastal Chinese cities. In addition to the NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship, Catherine?s research throughout her graduate career has been supported by Berkeley?s Regents? Fellowship, the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues ? Asian American Research Center, the Center for Chinese Studies, and Global Metropolitan Studies. Catherine holds a B.A. in English Literature and Psychology from Swarthmore College, an M.S.T. from Fordham University, and an M.A. in China Studies from Zhejiang University.

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