Dan Cohen's research focuses on the spread of market-based education reforms in American cities. These reforms have spread as the field of K-12 education has been placed under the dual pressures of reduced expenditures in an austerity environment and an increased focus on education as a method of improving a city's economic competitiveness. As policymakers struggle to balance these competing pressures, market-based education reforms have emerged as a supposed panacea to the problems facing K-12 education. Through visiting multiple sites that have adopted these models of reform, Dan's research project will help us understand how and why these models of reform have become popular as well as what happens when the rubber-meets-the-road and these hyper-mobile policies become implemented in new sites. This research is important because education reforms can have dramatic impacts on students lives and on the communities they live within. Through understanding these processes Dan hopes to further our knowledge about how such policies can have profound impacts on communities.
Prior to coming to the University of British Columbia's Geography department, Dan worked for a number of years as an urban planner and social policy researcher for research groups, a private planning firm and the City of Toronto. This experience has given Dan insights into the policymaking process that he hopes to bring to his academic work.