Dr. Petra Robinson serves as co-director for international conference on urban education in Jamaica


LSU School of Leadership & Human Resource Development Assistant Professor Dr. Petra A. Robinson served as co-director of the inaugural biennial International Conference on Urban Education (ICUE) in Montego Bay, Jamaica, from November 6 – November 8, 2014.

More than 500 conference attendees, including university professors, healthcare professionals, community leaders, and key stakeholders interested in urban education, gathered for the ICUE. The conference provided a forum in which scholars, parents, community members, and other stakeholders could glean and share knowledge and resources with the local and global community for tangible and beneficial partnerships that support quality education and health in an urban cradle to career context.

ICUE’s theme this year, Building and Sustaining Global Partnerships for Learning and Development, aimed to bring international stakeholders together to develop cutting-edge solutions to positively improve educational outcomes in urban areas across the globe. ICEU included a series of panel discussions and presentations concentrated on confronting challenges that hinder student learning. The study of urban education has not received much attention, but this conference focused exclusively on challenges urban education faces across the globe.

“As a participant I was able to attend a host of sessions that discussed a variety of ways to trouble the current educational system that appears to consistently fail students in urban settings,” said Benterah Morton, School of Education. “The interesting research projects and findings that were being discussed lead me to believe that the future of urban education is shaping up to be better than the past. Additionally, I was able to make connections with practitioners in London, England and in Montego Bay, Jamaica.”

“When attending conferences, I hope to be inspired, rejuvenated, and engaged. At ICUE, I got all three,” said Dr. Carlos Lee, School of Education Assistant Professor and presenter. “This wasn’t a home run. It was a grand slam!”

“There was a lot of passion, a lot of professors, researchers, and educators focused on improving the quality of education for underserved populations of the world,” said Dr. Lee. “My biggest takeaway is that the research is going to continue at a very rigorous pace. There were a lot of students in attendance working on PhDs taking on challenging topics.”

In addition to providing stimulating intellectual, practical, and performance-based sessions, this dynamic event was dubbed a “solutions-focused” conference that examined critical questions and social justice issues that challenge successful and productive citizens in countries around the world, specifically the host country, city, and neighborhood.

Over the past two years, Dr. Robinson has been working in partnership with the Urban Education Collaborative, which is based at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In this capacity, Dr. Robinson served on the Executive Planning Committee as Co-Director.

Dr. Robinson worked closely with Executive Director Dr. Lewis, Dr. Stephen Hancock, Assistant Director, and Dr. Ayana Allen, Post Doc Fellow at the Urban Education Collaborative. In this role, she collaboratively worked on the organizing, planning, and execution of the conference, a project that she fondly calls a “labor of love."

In her expression of gratitude to the conference organizers for bringing the conference to Jamaica, the Permanent Secretary in Jamaica’s Ministry of Education, Mrs. Elaine Foster-Allen, emphasized how timely the conference was and how much the conference vision aligned with the nation’s current strategic plan for education. She publicly acknowledged Dr. Robinson as a Jamaican who gives back to her country and lauded her efforts to convince the other organizers to entrust the conference to Jamaica.

ICUE also featured keynote presentations from two internationally prominent urban education scholars, Dr. Pedro Noguera and Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, who both offered challenges for practical solutions to the problems facing urban education today.

A hallmark initiative of the ICUE was the sponsorship and participation of urban students from a high school in Charlotte, North Carolina, who presented work from their senior projects at the conference. While in Jamaica, these students and other conference team members visited an under-resourced primary and secondary school, and made substantial donations of school supplies.

CHSE presenters:

  • Raymond Doe, School of Leadership & Human Resource Development, Doctoral Student
  • Dr. Carlos Lee, School of Education, Assistant Professor(pictured right)
  • Benterah Morton, School of Education, Curriculum Theory Project, Doctoral Candidate
  • Thuong (Krystie) Nguyen, School of Education, Doctoral Student
  • Dr. Sunyoung Park, School of Leadership & Human Resource Development, Assistant Professor
  • Rhea Perkins, School of Education, Doctoral Candidate,
  • Dr. Tracey Rizzuto, School of Leadership & Human Resource Development, Associate Professor
  • Dr. Petra Robinson, School of Leadership & Human Resource Development, Assistant Professor
  • Dr. Sassy Wheeler, School of Education, Instructor