Schooling as Uncertainty: An Ethnographic Memoir

March 31, 2021 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

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Speaker: Frances Vavrus

Presentation DescriptionSchooling as Uncertainty book cover
In today’s uncertain world, few beliefs remain as firmly entrenched as the optimistic view that more schooling will lead to a better life. Though this may be true in the aggregate, how do we explain the circumstances when schooling fails to produce certainty or even does us harm? In this presentation, University of Wisconsin alum Professor Frances Vavrus addresses this question by way of her new book, Schooling as Uncertainty, which combines ethnography and memoir as it guides readers on a 30-year journey through fieldwork and familyhood in Tanzania and academic life in the US. Using reflexive, longitudinal ethnographic research, the book examines how African youth, particularly young women, employ schooling in an attempt to counter the uncertainties of marriage, child rearing, employment, and HIV/AIDS. Adopting a narrative approach, Vavrus tells the story of how her life became entangled with a community on Mount Kilimanjaro and how she and they sought greater security through schooling and, to varying degrees, succeeded.

Brief Bio
Photo of Frances VavrusFrances Vavrus is Professor, Coordinator of the Program in Comparative and International Development Education, and Associate Chair of the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development at the University of Minnesota. She teaches courses on the anthropology of development, comparative education, and research methods, and she co-facilitates a university-wide research collaboration on childhood and youth studies. Dr. Vavrus also serves as the Chair of the Joint ILO/UNESCO Committee of Experts on the Application of the Recommendations Concerning Teaching Personnel (CEART), which monitors and promotes the rights of K-12 and higher education teaching personnel. Dr. Vavrus is a former teacher and Fulbright Scholar in Tanzania, recipient of numerous research and teaching awards, and works closely with several educational organizations in Tanzania. She has published widely on her research in Tanzania and on the comparative case study approach with University of Wisconsin Professor Lesley Bartlett.