Ming-Tso Chien joins COA as a Predoctoral Visiting Teaching Fellow in Educational Studies. Ming-Tso Chien joins COA as a Predoctoral Visiting Teaching Fellow in Educational Studies.

Chien is a Ph.D. candidate in preK–12 education with a concentration in literacy at University of Maine, where he is completing his dissertation, “Identities and Language Socialization in Communities of Practice — A Multimodal Critical Narrative Study of Chinese Transnational Adolescents in an American High School.” Academically, he’s concerned with issues of equity, inclusion, and social justice in education, focusing on how bias, prejudice, and discrimination affect students’ social and academic well being.

“It’s essential that we explore and work to dismantle these structural barriers to learning,” he said.

Chien is excited to join the COA faculty and take part in “the critical and creative engagement that takes place at COA,” he said. Studying education, he said, offers immense value to human ecologists on a variety of academic paths.

“Education has made me become more critically aware of my status and my relationships with others in the society, and I think this critical self-knowledge is an important skill for human ecologists, especially if they see working with people from diverse disciplines and backgrounds as a significant component of their future careers,” Chien said.

Chien's curriculum uses a comparative and intercultural approach to education to prepare stud...Chien's curriculum uses a comparative and intercultural approach to education to prepare students to teach in international and diverse settings.

Chien, who is from the city of Taichung in central Taiwan, came to Maine in 2015 as a Fulbright foreign language teaching assistant in the University of Maine Department of Modern Languages and Classics, where he taught classes in Mandarin Chinese. He was awarded a 2020–21 Chase Distinguished Research Assistantship by the UMaine Graduate School.

Chien’s Ph.D. dissertation uses a variety of visual and narrative tools, such as maps, portraits, autobiographical writing, and interviewing, in order to explore how a group of Chinese international secondary students experience interactions with their peers and teachers as well as how these interactions influence their language learning and identity formation and transformation.

“My goal is to provide my participants with a platform to tell their stories as adolescents that live and learn across cultures,” he said.

After the completion of his dissertation, Chien looks forward to teaching and doing research about language and education or working with future language educators. He also envisions working for or establishing a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting multicultural literacy or cross-cultural relationships through community education.

“I am thrilled that we have Ming-Tso joining us,” said COA Educational Studies Director Dr. Bonnie Tai. “His areas of expertise in language learning and teaching, international communication studies, and transnational education will allow us to continue to offer education courses that prepare human ecologists to work effectively with diverse learners in diverse contexts. He has already demonstrated his intellectual contributions in faculty meetings that we have held over the summer in which his thoughtful questions have prompted important and timely discussions.”

Educational Studies at COA serves students with broad interests, Tai said. While many students go on to teaching careers, most who choose to take education classes are more interested in informal learning contexts such as museum settings or interpretive work in natural settings. The curriculum includes comparative, intercultural, and international education, preparing students to teach culturally diverse learners in and outside the U.S.

Chien’s position at COA is made possible by a generous grant from the Davis Educational Foundation. The foundation, established in 1985, supports undergraduate, degree granting colleges and universities throughout the six New England states. Elisabeth K. Davis and Stanton W. Davis co-founded the foundation after Mr. Davis’s retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc. The foundation is an expression of the couple’s shared support and value for higher education and has provided more than $115 million in grants to more than 174 institutions.