Amira El Masri, a recent PhD graduate at the Faculty of Education has recently been awarded two national awards: the Michel Laferrière Research Award for the best doctoral thesis by the Comparative and International Education Society of Canada (CIESC) and the George Geiss Award by the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education (CSSHE). While recognizing El Masri’s outstanding research in the field of comparative and international education, the award also facilitates and encourages dialogue within the field.
In fact, El Masri’s dissertation was also funded by the SSHRC’s Joseph-Armand Bombardier Scholarship. “I am truly honoured to be recognized by two academic societies that have been home to many great scholars, researchers, and thinkers who have worked relentlessly and collaboratively to facilitate, promote and share research in higher education (CSSHE) and comparative and international education (CIESC)” she said.
El Masri’s dissertation explores Ontario’s international education policy-making context for the period 2005 to mid-2017 while also taking into account the announcement of the new policy document Ontario’s International Postsecondary Education Strategy 2018: Educating Global Citizens. By adopting discourse analysis, El Masri analyzed data from various sources, including international education stories in the three highest-circulation newspapers in Ontario (415 articles); 23 interviews with policy actors, and 195 policy documents.
Her study provides an analysis of how international education as a discourse flows and changes across time and space, its social, cultural, and historical construction and the multiplicity of actors that mobilize it, creating disparities and inequities within this discourse space.
“International education in Ontario is not a policy problem per se; instead, it is constructed as a policy solution to problems beyond the postsecondary education and the education sector such as immigration, innovation, economy, foreign affairs, and trade.”
El Masri’s areas of research are post-secondary education and public policy focusing on international education policies and international students' experiences. She has participated in research projects funded by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities; the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO); Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), and The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
During her PhD studies at the Faculty of Education, El Masri worked as a research assistant on many research projects focusing on different aspects of international and comparative education. “At York, I got the chance to learn from great scholars and work with great minds who broadened my horizons and inspired me along the way. My research idea matured through classroom discussions, hallway chats, and endless communication with my supervisor, Dr. Roopa Desai Trilokekar, who was the backbone of my research journey with her critical insights, endless support, and commitment for excellence” said El Masri.
“In my twenty-five years of teaching and advising students, twelve of which have been in our Faculty, I have not come across a more outstanding student than Amira El-Masri” said Dr. Roopa Desai Trilokekar, El Masri’s dissertation supervisor. “Amira’s work, as the two awards she has won substantiate, is a stellar example of research excellence, one that stands apart for its significance, substance and distinctiveness.”
Growing up in Jordan, El Masri was always intrigued to learn more about other cultures and languages, which influenced her interest in the field of international education. “My education in comparative literature and then my work as an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor and administrator further introduced me to the world beyond national boundaries” she said.
El Masri has contributed to the field of International Education with her scholarly work and through her professional work in a range of senior student-facing and policy-oriented roles in national and international universities. She has provided consultancy services to postsecondary education institutions working on developing their internationalization strategies such as the Faculty of Education at Brock University. She is currently working at York International where she provides support for the development of internationalization and global engagement strategies.