What impact do Catholic schools have around the world? What policies could prevent or slow the improvement of Catholic education in different nations? And, how can these schools better serve children, particularly in developing countries?

Those are among the questions being asked by the Kellogg Institute Research Cluster on International Education, a joint project with the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives.

The cluster’s partnerships with local leaders and scholars around the world are key to understanding the specific challenges facing Catholic education in individual countries.

For example, the cluster is working closely in Kenya and Chile with faith leaders, academics, and government officials.

"These partners connect us with students and their parents to help us understand the educational challenges in their respective countries and how those challenges may affect the extent to which schools are helping students to realize their human potential, promote human development, and enhance the quality of democracy," said Faculty Fellow Rev. Robert Dowd, CSC. 

Other principal investigators are Faculty Fellows Ernest Morrell, Rev. Timothy Scully, CSC, and Nicole Stelle Garnett.

Since 2017, the cluster has brought together scholars and practitioners from around the world with expertise in education, religion, politics, law, and methodology. Their goal: to conduct pioneering research on Catholic international education and lay the foundation for a future comparative study of faith-based education.

Following a 2018 conference in Rome that was the cluster’s first major initiative, participants from Kellogg and other affiliates have attended regional workshops in Kenya, London, Chile, and Australia.

Major partners in the initiative include the International Office for Catholic Education, the National Catholic Educational Association, the Centre for Research and Development in Catholic Education at St. Mary’s University Twickenham, the Kenyan Bishops Conference, and Australian Catholic University.

Scully said the cluster's work advances the mission of Kellogg and the University of Notre Dame "by placing in high relief the awesome dignity of every human person, especially those most vulnerable, who are the children that God has placed in the thousands of faith-based classrooms where we serve around the world. 

"Gaining a better understanding of how we can increase access to, and the quality of, those learning experiences rests at the very heart of the Kellogg mission,” he added. 

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