Alec Ian Gershberg, Ph.D.

Alec Ian Gershberg, Ph.D.

Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Urban StudiesSenior Fellow, International Educational Development Program, Penn GSE

(215) 573.2801

Office Location: McNeil 372
Mailing Address: 3718 Locust Walk, 353 McNeil Building, Philadelphia, PA 19104


Ph.D. Regional Science, University of Pennsylvania 1993
M.A. Regional Science, University of Pennsylvania 1990
B.A. with honors in American Civilization and Literature & Society, Brown University 1986

Research Interests

Dr. Gershberg is a specialist in social and education policy, public finance and economic analysis in both developing and OECD countries, with expertise in policy reform processes, institutional analysis, political economy, systems thinking, education finance, accountability, school governance, community participation and decentralization. He is particularly interested in how governments design and implement policies and reform processes to improve education quality. He has done both quantitative and qualitative research and applied policy analysis in Latin America—primarily Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Ecuador. He has also worked in Egypt, Jordan, Romania, Georgia, Tanzania, Spain, and the U.S. and done cross-regional analyses on Latin America, East Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. He has been a frequent consultant to the World Bank, the Department for International Development (DfID, U.K.), the Inter-American Development Bank, USAID (and its contractors), the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), UNESCO, and The Urban Institute. He has been a Visiting Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California and Visiting Professor at the Stanford University School of Education, the Open University of Catalunya (UOC), and El Colégio de Mexico. Most recently, Dr. Gershberg was chosen to lead a five-year research project on the political economy of education reform for the RISE program working with country research teams in Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

He publishes in a range of journals -- including World Development, Comparative Education, Economics of Education Review, the National Tax Journal, Public Budgeting and Finance, The Journal of Education Policy, Urban Education, Latin American Perspectives, and the International Journal of Educational Development -- and he is author of the book Beyond 'Bilingual' Education: New Immigrants and Public School Policies in California (Urban Institute Press, 2004).
He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania's Regional Science Department, and wrote his dissertation on education finance, decentralization, and intergovernmental fiscal relations in Mexico. Prior to returning to PENN, he spent 25 years as a faculty member in the Public and Urban Policy Program at The New School – the last five years as Chair. He previously served as Special Advisor to the Provost for Faculty and Curricular Affairs. In 2006 he was chosen to deliver the New School’s Aims of Education Address at convocation, and in 1999 he received the University Distinguished Teaching Award.

He has been Senior Education Economist at the World Bank and Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), where he did work on special authorities and the cost of capital for health care. He spent the 2010-2011 academic year in Barcelona co-directing three research projects at the UOC’s Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), where he is currently a Research Associate in e-learning—work he continues as a founding member of the University of the Future Network. A born and raised New Yorker, he took the opportunity to forget about the New York Mets and passionately follow the best fútbol club in the world, F.C. Barcelona.

Teaching Interests and Areas of Expertise:
Education Policy, School Governance & Accountability, Political Economy of Reform, Comparative & International Education, Systems Thinking, Economics of Education, International Development, Urban & Regional Economics, Urban Sociology, Global Cities, Immigrant Education & Immigration Policy, Community & Parental Participation, Public Finance, Capital Markets and Development Finance, and Health Care Capital Finance & Health Economics.

Courses Taught

Urban Sociology (SAS)
Global Urban Education (SAS)
Systems Thinking for International Development and Educational Change (GSE)
Masters Proseminar in International Educational Development (GSE)
Public Finance and Public Policy (Fels)
Senior Seminar in Urban Studies (SAS)
Education and Social Policy in Latin America (GSE)

Fax: (206) 600.6545
Skype: AlecGershberg
Twitter: @AlecGershberg

CV (file)