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OISE grad’s thesis on minority education in China wins first language issues dissertation competition

By Jennifer Sipos-Smith

April 14, 2011


Stephen A. Bahry’s doctoral dissertation, Perspectives on quality in minority education in China: The case of Sunan Yughur Autonomous County, Gansu (2010), earned him a co-win of The 2011 Language Issues Dissertation Award of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) for the best dissertation. In order to be considered, the topic of the winning dissertation must relate to educational language issues, broadly defined, in comparative and international research. Stephen is a recent graduate (Ed.D.) in the Comparative International and Development Education program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. 
Language Issues SIG of CIES is a special interest group that promotes awareness of language issues in education. Among other activities, the group advocates for the acknowledgment of and research in a range of language related issues in various educational settings, and mentors and supports the work of students and new scholars in the area of language and education research presentation and publication. 
He spoke fondly of his work, and the meaning of this award: “I am deeply appreciative that my work on local stakeholders’ own perspectives on quality in minority education has been recognized in this way, and grateful to the University of Toronto, OISE, and School of Continuing Studies for making it possible for me to combine my practical and research interests, applying insights from courses in Curriculum,  Second Language Education, and Comparative, International and Development Education.”
His thesis was supervised by Professor Jim Cummins. Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies Professor Normand Labrie and Professor Ruth Hayhoe were thesis committee members. 
Stephen teaches full-time in the School of Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto and  won an Award for Excellence in Teaching there in 1998. As part of his teaching philosophy, he values active learning – helping students to not only learn more English, but also to give them the strategies and the confidence to use what they already know to communicate successfully in English.   His recent teaching focus is English for Academic Purposes (EAP), and the design of curriculum, activities and assessment that foster collaborative learning inside and outside the classroom. He has also taught in EFL in China and Linguistics in Tajikistan. His current research focuses on the comparative study of education of language minorities in Eurasia and North America, and development of English as Foreign language curriculum based on minority language traditional literature.
The 2011 Language Issues Dissertation Award Committee was chaired by Daniel Wagner (Penn) and two additional LI SIG researchers representing broad areas of expertise within language-related scholarship. Awardees will be recognized formally with a modest monetary award, certificate and announcement at the 2011 LI SIG business meeting at the International Comparative Education Conference in Montreal.