Seminar Series

Every month during the academic year, CCWT will host a visiting scholar active in the areas of career advising, labor market issues, and work-based learning in order to cultivate dialogue on these issues for students, staff and the broader community.  In scheduling speakers for the Seminar Series, the Center aims to bring renowned scholars and respected practitioners to share their insights on research findings and policy developments that impact student employability and their career development. 

Given the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, all in-person seminars and research symposia are cancelled at CCWT.  Instead, we are hosting free online webinars featuring scholars and practitioners active in college-workforce policy, research and practice. Watch recordings of past webinars from this series about the latest findings on college internships, implications for college students amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and discussions regarding equity and social justice in higher education.

Past Seminars

Jenny Chan

Internships and Vocational Skills Training in China with Jenny Chan

Wednesday, December 4, 2019 • 9:30am
The Wisconsin Idea room (Education Building #159)

China has the world’s largest vocational education system. The number of vocational high school students (aged 16-18), however, dropped from a peak of 22.4 million in 2010 to 15.5 million in 2018, that is, about 40% of the national student population. By contrast, the number of high school students remained fairly stable over the same period, hovering at around 24 million. This project seeks to understand the internship experiences of Chinese teenage students. Under the existing system, a 6-month workplace-based internship training is mandatory for three-year vocational education program. The legal status of interns remains that of students, not employees. The educational and labor rights of interns are worthy of scholarly attention.

Jenny Chan (Ph.D. 2014) is an assistant professor of sociology at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and a recipient of Early Career Scheme funding awarded by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (2018-2022). She also serves as the vice president of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee on Labor Movements (2018-2022). Dying for an iPhone: Apple, Foxconn and the Lives of China’s Workers is her first co-authored book with Mark Selden and Pun Ngai (Haymarket Books & Pluto Press, forthcoming in 2020).

Adrian Huerta

How Undergraduate Student Parents Make Decisions About Course-Taking, Majors, Jobs, and Careers

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 • 10:00am
The Wisconsin Idea room (Education Building #159)
Light refreshments provided
Co-sponsored with the Institute for Research on Poverty

Each week, student-parents must balance work, college classes, and kids that requires a level of skill and strategy to be successful. This mixed-methods study highlights the experiences of student-parents as they persist and navigate an urban community college in Southern California.

Adrian H. Huerta, PhD is an assistant professor in the Pullias Center for Higher Education located in the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. Dr. Huerta’s research focuses on boys and young men of color; college access and equity; and gang-associated in the K-16 educational pipeline.

Daniel Ginsberg video

Two Events with Daniel Ginsberg

What can I do with a degree in anthropology?

Monday, September 30, 2019 • 3:30pm
Social Sciences, Room #8417

(Auto)ethnographic perspectives on the college-workforce transition for anthropology majors

Tuesday, October 1st 2019 • 10:00am
The Wisconsin Idea Room, Education Building #159

Daniel Ginsberg is Manager of Education, Research and Professional Development at the American Anthropological Association and Anthropologist in Residence at American University.

Bonnie Urciuoli

Crafting and Marketing Student Experience with Bonnie Urciouli

Monday, September 16, 2019 • 10am
The Wisconsin Idea room (Education Building #159)

Informal Meeting for Students
1:30-2:30pm • 5230 Social Science Building • Open to all graduate and undergraduate students

College and university programs that craft student experience have become a major selling point, representing an intersection of student life administration and higher education marketing. For example, “First Year Experience” programs craft student life in ways designed to fit students into the most productive aspects of college life, optimizing the production of an ideal student. That production, understood in terms of measurable outcomes, becomes a major marketing angle for parents worried about their child’s future. Neither perspective takes into account structural inequities shaping student experience, with consequences for at-risk students. Nor do they take seriously the role of faculty, who are neither problem solvers nor career developers.

Bonnie Urciuoli is professor emerita of anthropology at Hamilton College. She has written on race/class ideologies of Spanish–English bilingualism in the U.S., the discursive production and marketing of ‘skills,’ and the construction and marketing of studenthood and student diversity in U.S. higher education. She has published the monograph Exposing Prejudice and the edited volume The Experience of Neoliberal Education, as well as articles in American Ethnologist, Language and Communication, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Signs and Society, HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, Annual Review of Anthropology, and elsewhere. Flyer.


Participatory Action Research as a Grassroots Challenge to Policy and Practice in Schools and Universities flyer

Participatory Action Research as a Grassroots Challenge to Policy and Practice in Schools and Universities
with NYU Professor Dr. Gary Anderson

Monday, April 29, 2019 • 10am
159 Education Building (Wisconsin Idea Room)

The growing popularity of Participatory Action Research (PAR) can be attributed to its commitment to doing research with rather than on or for participants, it’s potential to challenge policy and practice from the bottom up, and its multiple goals of knowledge generation, concrete action, and, critical pedagogy.

This presentation focused on the ways that PAR challenges the current dominance of New Public Management in Schools and Universities and the dominant epistemology of university research.


Community-Based Participatory Action Research Workshop and Discussion with NYU Professor Dr. Gary Anderson

Workshop and Discussion
Community-Based Participatory Action Research Workshop and Discussion with NYU Professor Dr. Gary Anderson

Monday, April 29, 2019 • 2-3:30pm
On Wisconsin Room, Red Gym

The Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions and the Morgridge Center for Public Service co-sponsored a workshop and discussion with New York University Professor Gary Anderson for UW-Madison students, staff, and faculty who conduct or plan to conduct Community-Based Participatory Action Research.

Gary L. Anderson is Professor of Educational Leadership at NYU Steinhardt. A former high school teacher and principal, he has published on topics such as critical ethnography, participatory action research, new policy networks, and the new professional. His recent books include The Politics of Education Policy in an Era of Inequality with Sonia Horsford & Janelle Scott (2019, Routledge) and The Action Research Dissertation with Kathryn Herr (2014, Sage).


Managing Transitions from College to Work: The ‘Employability’ and Career Readiness Challenge
with Dr. Michael Tomlinson

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 • 12-1:30pm
Ed Sciences 259, 1025 West Johnson Street

Dr. Michael Tomlinson provided a critical overview of the problem and construct of graduates’ employability, charting its evolution and the ways in which it has been conceptually and politically applied in understanding macro-level changes between higher education (HE) systems and the labor market. The talk drew on evidence from the perspectives of students and graduates making the transitions from HE to formal employment, examining the challenges for their career readiness and employment prospects. It explored salient issues relating to the resources, career values, and identities which graduates develop through and beyond HE.

Michael Tomlinson is an Associate Professor at the Southampton Education School at the University of Southampton, UK where he has been based since 2011. His research interests are in higher education policy, the sociology of higher education and the HE-work relationship and has published widely in these fields. His previous books are Education, Work and Identity (2013, Bloomsbury Publishers) and Graduate Employability in Context (2017, Palgrave Publishers).

Funded by the University Lectures Committee

Our HMoob American College Paj Ntaub

Our HMoob American College Paj Ntaub

Friday, February 1, 2019, 12-1:30 pm
Wisconsin Idea Room, Education Building Room 159
Lunch Provided

A presentation of findings from a student-led research project examining the experiences of HMoob American undergraduate students at UW-Madison.

The “Our HMoob American College Paj Ntaub” research team is comprised of Lena Lee, Pangzoo Lee, Myxee Thao, Kia Vang, Odyssey Xiong, Pa Kou Xiong, Pheechai Xiong, and their research mentors Bailey Smolarek, Matthew Wolfgram, and Choua Xiong.


Fall Seminar Series Video: Internships and Experiential Learning in a Chinese University: A Report from the Field with Matthew Hora

Internships and Experiential Learning in a Chinese University: A Report from the Field with Matthew Hora (November 5, 2018)


In this talk Dr. Matthew Hora reported preliminary findings from a recent trip to Tianjin, China where he spent 2.5 weeks conducting a mixed methods study of the relationship between internship program design and student outcomes. Drawing on survey, focus group, and interview data, Dr. Hora provided a comparative and critical analysis of internship programming in China and the US, with a focus on students’ experiences in their internships.

Founding Director of CCWT, Dr. Matthew T. Hora is an Assistant Professor of Adult and Higher Education in the Department of Liberal Arts and Applied Studies at UW–Madison, and a research scientist at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.


Angela Byars-Winston

The Vocational Significance of Cultural Identity featuring Angela Byars-Winston (October 18, 2018)

Race/ethnicity are strong predictors of educational outcomes and labor market position (Byars-Winston, Fouad & Wen, 2015). In this presentation, Professor Byars-Winston briefly reviewed the evidence for and vocational relevance of cultural identity. She used the Outline for Cultural Formulation model to illustrate its applicability for career assessment and career counseling integrating the concept of cultural identity for African American students (Byars-Winston, 2010), and concluded the presentation by delineating implications for promoting workforce diversity.

Angela Byars-Winston is a Professor in the University of Wisconsin Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine. She is also the Director of Research and Evaluation in the UW Center for Women’s Health Research and Faculty Affiliate of the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research.

David Livingstone

The Increasing Underemployment and Decreasing Job Control of Highly Qualified Employees: Implications for Further Training and Workplace Change featuring David Livingstone (April 20, 2018)

Co-sponsored with the Office of Equity, Sustainability and Democracy.

Highly qualified professional employees are widely regarded as central strategic resources for “knowledge economies”. However, there is mounting evidence that these “knowledge workers” are experiencing both increasing underemployment and decreasing job control, as well as diminishing participation in both further education and job-related informal learning. Prospects for employment and educational reforms to reverse current trends will be assessed.

D.W. Livingstone is Canada Research Chair in Lifelong Learning and Work and Professor Emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto.

Andrew Weaver

Is There a Skill Gap for Entry-Level IT Positions? Evidence from a National IT Helpdesk Survey featuring Andrew Weaver (April 6, 2018)

Co-sponsored with the Office of Equity, Sustainability and Democracy.

Some analysts maintain that inadequate worker skills are holding back industry growth. These claims are often reinforced by commentators who assert that technological changes coupled with insufficient education have resulted in a shortage of (STEM) skills. Dr. Weaver used a detailed nationally representative skill survey focusing on computer helpdesk technicians to shed light on these claims.

Andrew Weaver is an Assistant Professor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on the impact of institutions on labor market outcomes, with a particular focus on industry skill demands and workforce-related public policy issues.

Dr. Vanessa Sansonne

Reframing Labor: How Evolving Work Experiences Influence Student Success, featuring Dr. Vanessa Sansonne (February 23, 2018)

There is a commonly held belief that positive college student experiences are best facilitated when societal pressures of finances and work are alleviated, but this is often reserved for only the most privileged. What then for students from underrepresented groups? In this presentation, Dr. Vanessa Sansoone shines a light on the significance and impacts of work for Latinx college students. Dr. Sansoone is Assistant Professor of Higher Education at The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Dr. David Bills

Dr. David Bills (November 10th, in collaboration with the UW-Madison ITP program)

More information available on the ITP website.

Classrooms, coffee shops, and counterfactuals: Schooling, skills growth, and the rationalization of hiring, featuring Dr. David Bills (November 10, 2017, in collaboration with the UW-Madison ITP program).

David Bills is Professor of Sociology of Education and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Graduate Programs in the University of Iowa, College of Education. Dr. Bills is an internationally recognized scholar on education and work, labor markets, technological and organizational change, educational demography, and social inequality, and the author of The Sociology of Education and Work (Wiley-Blackwell Press, 2004). In this CCWT Speaker Series event, Dr. Bills presents his research on the processes and consequences of the digital rationalization of the hiring process.

Dr. Sean Gallagher

The future of higher education credentials: A critical look at degrees, badges and certificates in the 21st century, featuring Dr. Sean Gallagher (October 24, 2017)

At a time of heightened attention to how universities and colleges are preparing young people for the working world, questions about the meaning and value of university credentials – especially bachelor’s degrees - have become especially prominent. With the rise of alternative credentials such as badges and certificates, Dr. Sean Gallagher provides an overview of this fast-changing terrain, providing much-needed context, details, and insights.


Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom

#LowerEd: A symposium on critical views of the skills gap, featuring Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom (September 29th).

The “skills gap” idea - that millions of well-paying jobs go unfilled due to a higher education system that is inadequately aligned to workforce needs - is deeply influencing education and workforce development policies at the state and national levels. The purpose of this symposium is to spark dialogue about issues related to the skills gap narrative (i.e., internships, labor market data, and for-profit colleges), and why critical analyses of these issues are essential so that students can make informed decisions about their educational and career plans.

Event flyer (PDF)

Keynote by Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom
Overview of the Skills Gap Narrative
Panel Discussion I: Challenges with Designing Ethical and Effective Internship Programs
Panel Discussion II: A Critical Approach to the "Skills Gap" Using Labor Market Data

Report from #LowerEd skills gap symposium (PDF)

CCWT Inaugural Event: A focus on work ethic and self-regulated learning

The Center’s inaugural event was held on Monday May 22, 2017, at the UW–Madison School of Education, Wisconsin Idea Room (Rm 159). Jim Morgan of the Management Association and Dr. Linda Nilson of Clemson University spoke on the topic “Why work ethic and self-regulated learning are essential skills for student success in work and life.