Project seeks doctoral students to participate in special education program


Meghan Krein

Arizona State University, in conjunction with Syracuse University and Florida International University, is launching a $7.5 million program to support a distinct group of doctoral students pursuing a degree in special education. 

Alfredo Artiles

The U.S. Department of Education awarded $3.75 million in funding, with ASU, FIU and SU matching funds for the project, called Project INCLUDE — Inclusive Consortium of Leaders in Urban Disabilities Education.

Alfredo Artiles, dean of ASU’s Graduate College and the Ryan C. Harris Professor of Special Education; Amber Benedict, assistant professor; and Mildred Boveda, assistant professor, are the co-principal investigators from ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. The project will begin in fall 2020.

Amber Benedict

“When we were in the initial planning stage of this cross-institutional collaboration, we thought critically about how the consortium would support a diverse group of doctoral students to examine critical issues affecting students with disabilities in urban settings,” says Boveda. 

Recruiting efforts are underway for 26 doctoral students — six for a cohort at MLFTC, 12 in Florida and eight in New York. Students’ full tuition will be covered and stipends provided as they pursue research that focuses on the needs of culturally diverse students with disabilities in urban settings. Although students will be distributed among the three universities, they will all work together, including researchers and peers. Travel funds are allocated so students will be able to present joint research projects and attend research forums. 

Boveda says the project aims to bolster the number of special education teachers who are prepared to work with culturally and linguistically diverse students with disabilities. By recruiting diverse students for the program, the hope is that the faculty will become as diverse as the students they will be educating.

Mildred Boveda

“What is especially exciting about Project INCLUDE,” says Boveda, “is that these doctoral students will have a built-in national network of faculty and peers who do work within a large, urban minority-serving institution (FIU), have expertise in disability studies (Syracuse), and who apply intersectional framing to examine cross-cutting issues in special education, bilingual education and other equity-based education research communities (ASU).”

Artiles says, “The principal investigators across institutions will expose students to unique and very strong interdisciplinary training ranging from behavioral-cognitive interventions to social models of disability. This is a rare and much-needed approach in the special education field. I don’t know any program in the U.S. that offers such an eclectic theoretical and methodological perspective.”

Artiles, Benedict and Boveda are all products of the Office of Special Education Programs Grant Opportunities and Funding. "This is an opportunity to pay it forward," says Benedict, "Without these resources, I would never have pursued my doctorate. It feels exciting to be in the position to support future teacher education researchers in this same manner."

For each year of funding, students receive in the program, they are expected to spend at least two years working with students with disabilities, either in P–12 or higher education, anywhere in the U.S. 

In order to qualify for the program, students must have a master’s degree from an accredited institution, experience or employment in the special education field, be a U.S. citizen or have permanent resident status, and be admitted to MLFTC as a PhD Educational Policy and Evaluation or Learning, Literacies and Technologies student.

The deadline to apply for the competitive program is December 1. 

Learn more and apply now.