Julia C. Lerch
Assistant Professor of Sociology

Ph.D. Education, Stanford University, 2017
M.Sc. International Development, University of Amsterdam, 2010
B.A. Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, University of Oxford, 2008

Research and teaching interests: sociology of education; global and transnational sociology; refugees and humanitarian emergencies; international organizations

Research Projects
My research investigates the impact of an evolving world society and culture on social institutions around the world, especially education. Below is a summary of projects and topics I am currently working on.

One project centers on the evolution of cultural meanings around education in the humanitarian aid sector. Traditionally focused on survival-based activities, global responses to humanitarian crises have recently embraced a novel focus on delivering “emergency education” to affected populations (e.g. refugees). I interpret this phenomenon as a profound shift in how world society responds to humanitarian crises and how it envisions the role of education.  Using a multi-method approach, I examine the origins, spread, and implementation of emergency education as a new issue in world society.

A second, collaborative, project investigates the extent to which globalized ideologies of individualism are reshaping educational curricula worldwide toward greater emphases on individual personhood and rights. Drawing on cross-national quantitative data coded from textbooks, a series of papers illuminate historical trends and cross-national variation in textbook narratives around nationalism, multiculturalism, gender, and individual agency. Related work explores similar questions at the university level, studying internationalized study programs at over 17,000 universities worldwide.

A third project (also collaborative) centers on resistance and backlash against world society and global cultural norms in the contemporary era. Much of my work to-date illuminates the impact of global liberal ideologies on societies around the world. After decades of liberal dominance, however, a global anti-liberal backlash appears to be sweeping the world today. Ongoing work with colleagues seeks to understand this developing backlash against long dominant world cultural norms; an initial co-authored paper, for instance, carries out a quantitative cross-national study of various forms of anti-liberal attacks on higher education.

Finally, I have a long-standing interest in international organizations and the professionals that work for them, which permeates many of my projects. Recent work, for instance, illuminates cross-nationally variant linkages between global and local organizations in the diffusion of cultural scripts.