The College of Education is creating two tenure-track faculty positions to make progress toward interdisciplinary education practices.
The new faculty positions in bilingual education and prevention science will be hired from within the college and allow professors with these expertise to work in multiple departments, according to the college’s website.
“We’re really excited about these new job hires because they will provide us the opportunity to increase research activity across the disciplines in our departments in unique ways that are not typical in a university setting,” Alexandra Loukas, the college’s interim associate dean for research and graduate studies, said in a statement.
According to the college’s website, the two positions will work toward the college’s three signature impact areas: eliminating educational and health disparities, addressing the effects of home and community on well-being and supporting student adaptability through life’s transitions.
Nataly Lim, a special education graduate student, said faculty with knowledge in multiple disciplines can address cross sections between majors.
“Working with kids with autism, often times they also need speech, language or occupational services that aren’t just specific to special education,” Lim said. “To have faculty that are engaged in this kind of interdisciplinary research is really important.”
According to UT’s 2017-2018 impact report, English was the second language for 679 UT students. Ramiro De Los Santos, a journalism and European studies freshman, grew up with Spanish as his first language and said people who learn English as a second language are at a disadvantage in higher education or employment.
“Effective bilingual education allows people to be more competitive academically,” De Los Santos said. “I’m in Moody and Liberal Arts Honors and all I do is write. That wouldn’t have been possible without bilingual education.”
Lim said those with more severe disabilities are often not supported in their heritage language.
“Special education policies stipulate that individuals with disabilities should be provided with equal opportunities,” Lim said. “But a lot of the time what we see reflected in practice is not aligned with this policy.”
In addition to bilingual education, Lim said the prevention science faculty member’s expertise will be important when helping identify and treat individuals who are at risk for poor health or education outcomes.
“Prevention is key,” Lim said. “We learn so much about early identification and how that really impacts child outcomes.”