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206 Burton Hall
178 Pillsbury Drive SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Fax: 612-624-3377

Undergraduate Studies:

Graduate Studies:


Gerald Fry

Professor; Coordinator of Comparative and International Development Education Program

178 Pillsbury Dr SE
320 Burton Hall


B.A. Stanford University
M.P.A. Princeton University
Ph.D., Stanford University


Areas of Interest

Education Reform in Thailand and Southeast Asia
Reducing Educational Inequalities
Impact of Study Abroad
Cross-Cultural Communication


My background is Amish, although as a city-reared Kansas boy I was the only member of my extended family who didn’t speak Amish. Maybe that’s what prompted my interest in learning languages. I studied abroad as an undergraduate in Germany, taught in the Peace Corps in Thailand, and did fieldwork in Costa Rica on the relationship between education and national development. I eventually obtained my doctorate in international development education from Stanford, with a focus on Southeast Asia. Later, as head of the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Oregon, I continued to be particularly interested in education and development issues in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. I enjoy moving, changing, and taking on new challenges. I have a total of approximately 13 years of fieldwork experience in mainland Southeast Asia over a period of five decades and am fluent in Thai and Lao. I’d like to see teaching about Asia improved in public schools, and to that end have collaborated with the Asia Society in New York.

In 1994-1995, I had the opportunity to spend a sabbatical doing fieldwork in Laos as team leader for an Asia Development Bank (ADB)-funded education project. The project involved practical efforts to improve the quality of education through reform, such as training educators and producing new textbooks. I also served as team leader for an ADB-funded educational finance and management study in Thailand. Several years later (2002), I was asked by the ADB to prepare a synthesis report on educational reform in Thailand. As a result of those experiences I’m currently looking at comparative educational reform in Thailand and Laos. I have also done considerable research on Vietnam, a country where I spent time as a visiting professor.

Since 1993, I have been regularly taking study groups to Southeast Asia. I have led three University of Minnesota Global Seminars to Thailand and Laos. In the fall of 2008, I received an award from the Learning Abroad Center for promoting diversity in study abroad. I also take groups to Southeast Asia for Stanford and the East-West Center.

In 2006-2007, I had a sabbatical in Japan. During that period I did research for a book on Southeast Asia which was published in the fall of 2008.

I also have a current project on the knowledge production of former Peace Corp volunteers working as writers or scholars. This is a project in collaboration with CIDE students. I’m working as well with two Japanese colleagues on an on-going examination of the relationship between leadership and religion, particularly Buddhism, and how it may contribute to effective and more responsive leadership in multicultural contexts.

I am currently completing a book on Thailand titled The Thais: The Bamboo and the Lotus. In October, 2008, I gave a presentation on the book at the International Institute of Asian Studies at Leiden University, the Netherlands. During 2008-2009, I assisted the UNESCO Office for Asia and Pacific with two projects: 1) a study of education and development in Thailand and 2) a comparative study of secondary education in China, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Lao PDR.

I am also now completing a major research grant with professor R. Michael Paige looking at the long-term impact on study abroad. This project is funded through the International Research Title VI program of the U.S. Department of Education. The project is titled Beyond Immediate Impact: Study Abroad for Global Engagement. Also with Dr. Paige I am completing a major monograph for the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) on how study abroad affects individuals’ careers, world views, and outlooks on life, based on a major research project funded by the CIEE.

In August 2009, I gave a presentation (in collaboration with a CIDE graduate student) at the International Convention of Asian Studies (held in Korea) on the complexities of understanding cultures that are similar such as Japanese and Korean and Thai and Lao.

In October, 2009, I will make a major presentation in Vietnam on the evolution of the field of comparative education. In November 2009, I will present a paper in Istanbul with a CIDE graduate student on the impact of short-term study abroad. Currently I have two new research projects with the Japan Entrepreneurs’ Association, one on dynamic female entrepreneurs in the Asia-Pacific region and another on the mothers of highly successful individuals.

I try to emphasize interactive, experiential, and participatory learning in my classrooms. I enjoy teaching, and have developed a number of innovative courses at Minnesota. I’m really pleased to be living in an urban area with such large and diverse Asian and East African diasporas. I also serve on the Board of the Directors of the Hmong Cultural Center, located in St. Paul.

Selected Publications

  1. Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). New York: Chelsea House Publications, 2008.

  2. Global perspectives on the United States: A nation by nation survey (2007). Great Barrington, Ma.: Berkshire Reference Works, three volumes (an editor).

  3. Education and entrepreneurship in the Asia-Pacific Region: Diverse perspectives and methods (2005). Kawasaki, Japan: The Japan Entrepreneurs Association (with Misao Makino & Osamitsu Yamada).

  4. Synthesis report: From crisis to opportunity, the challenges of educational reform in Thailand (2002). Manila: Asian Development Bank and Bangkok: Office of the National Education Commission, Office of the Prime Minister.

  5. Synthesis report: From crisis to opportunity, the challenges of educational reform in Thailand (2002). Manila: Asian Development Bank and Bangkok: Office of the National Education Commission, Office of the Prime Minister.

  6. Encyclopedia of modern Asia (2002). (Editor, Southeast Asian section). Great Barrington, Ma: Berkshire Reference Works; New York: J. Scribner, 6 volumes.

  7. International cooperative learning: An innovative approach to intercultural service (2000) Nagoya: Tokai Institute of Social Development for Asia and the Pacific and Aichi Mizuho College; Eugene, Oregon: Center for Asian and Pacific Studies (with Terushi Tomita and Seksin Srivatananukulkit.

  8. The international development dictionary (1991). Oxford: ABC-Clio (with Galen Martin).

  9. Evaluating primary education: Qualitative and quantitative policy studies in Thailand (1990). Ottawa: International Development Research Centre (with Amrung and Supang Chantavanich).

  10. The International Education of Development Consultants: Communicating with Peasants and Princes. Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1989, with Clarence Thurber.

  11. Pacific Basin and Oceania (1987). . Oxford: Clio Press, 1987, with Rufino Mauricio.

  12. Vocational-Technical education and the Thai labor market (1980). Paris: International Institute for Educational Planning (with Varaporn Bovornsiri).

  13. Systems of higher education: Thailand (1978). New York: International Council for Educational Development (with Sippanondha Ketudat, et al.).

  14. Study abroad for global engagement: The long term impact of mobility experiences, Intercultural Education, forthcoming (with R. Michael Paige, et al.)

  15. The political economy of higher education reform in Vietnam, in Yasushi Hirosato & Yuto Kitamura (Eds.), The political economy of educational reforms and capacity development in Southeast Asia: Cases of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. New York: Springer, 2009.

  16. The Military Coup of September, 2006: Weakening or Strengthening of Thai Democracy, Harvard International Review, Summer, 2007.

  17. Ranking the international dimensions of top research universities in the United States, forthcoming in the Journal of Studies in International Education (with Aaron Horn & Darwin Hendel).

  18. Children’s Issues in Vietnam in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of Children’s Issues Worldwide, 2007, (with Pham Lan Huong).

  19. Buddhism, cultural democracy, and multicultural education (2006) In S. Farideh, S. & R. Hoosain, R. (Eds), Religion in multicultural education (pp. 101-119). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

  20. Education and economic, political, and social change in Vietnam (2004). Educational Research for Policy and Practice 3, 199-222 (with Pham Lan Huong) (republished in hard copy and electronically by Springer, the Netherlands, in August, 2005).

  21. Recovery through reform: Culture matters in the Thai rurnaround, Harvard International Review 26,3 (2004): 24-28.

  22. Universities in Vietnam: Legacies, challenges, and prospects (2004). In P. G. Altbach & T. Umakoshi (Eds.), Asian universities: Historical perspectives and contemporary challenges (pp. 301-331). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

  23. The emergence of private higher education in Vietnam: Challenges and opportunities, Educational Research for Policy and Practice (2002): 127-141 (with Pham Lan Huong).

  24. Introduction: The power of economic understanding (2002). In S. & T. Pendergast (Eds.), Worldmark encyclopedia of national economies (pp. xv-xix). Detroit: Gale Group, Volume I.

  25. Intercultural interactions among the Thai and Lao: Critical issues of identity and language, Tai Culture: International Review on Tai Cultural Studies 7, 1 (June 2002): 26-48.

  26. Crisis as opportunity: Political, economic and educational reform in Thailand, pp. 229-256 in Geoffrey B. Hainsworth (ed.), Globalization and the Asian economic crisis: Indigenous responses, coping strategies, and governance reform in Southeast Asia. Vancouver, Canada: Centre for Southeast Asia Research, Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia, 2000.

  27. The future of the Lao PDR: Relations with Thailand and alternative paths to internationalization (1998). In J. Butler-Diaz, Ed., New Laos, new challenges (pp. 147-179). Tempe, Arizona: Program for Southeast Asian Studies, Arizona State University.

  28. A subnational paradigm for comparative research: Education and development in Northeast Brazil and Northeast Thailand (1996). Comparative Education 32, 3, 333- 360 (with Ken Kempner), reprinted in William Tierney, et al. (Eds.) (1998), Comparative Education: ASHE reader series (pp. 384-408). New York: Simon & Schuster.