Dr William C Smith

Senior Lecturer in Education and International Development


William C. Smith is a Senior Lecturer in Education and International Development at the University of Edinburgh. In his current post he is working to stregthen and expand the CEID (Comparative Education and International Development) Community at the Moray House. This includes ensuring all PGT, PGR, Post-docs, and Faculty interested in CEID are able to participate in the Community. The plans for the emerging CEID Community include three pillars: 1) the MSc in Education (Comparative Education and International Development) pathway, in which William acts as the coordinator, 2) the CEID Society, a student led society under the umbrella of EUSA [https://www.facebook.com/ceid.edinburgh/; @CeidSociety], and 3) an in planning CEID Reserch Network. To follow events and updates on the CEID Community at Moray House join us on Twitter @MorayHouseCEID

Prior to joining University of Edinburgh, William worked as a Senior Policy Analyst at UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report where he contributed to the 2016, 2017/8, 2019, and 2020 GEM Report cycles - including acting as lead for the thematic section of the 2017/8 GEM Report "Accountability in Education: Meeting our Commitments". Additional experience includes a prestigious Thomas J. Alexander Fellowship with the OECD and work as a Senior Associate on the Right to Education Index (RTEI). Based at RESULTS Educational Fund and working with civil society partners in Chile, Nigeria, the Philippines, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, William helped develop and lead the pilot round of the index. In 2018, RTEI was completed in over 20 countries (https://www.rtei.org/en/). 

His experience as a teacher also has a profound impact on his work. Specifically, William worked as 6 years as a secondary social studies school teacher in the United States during the time of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).



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Dual Title Ph.D. , Education Theory and Policy and Comparative International Education, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA: December 2014

Minor: Sociology          Concentration: Quantitative Methods

Dissertation: The global expansion of the testing culture: National testing policies and the reconstruction of education.

Advisor:  David Baker


M.A. in International Development, Josef Korbel School of International Studies-University of Denver, Denver, CO: June 2011

Concentrations: Political Theory and Education


M.A. in Teaching, Western Oregon University, Monmouth, OR: June 2003

Concentration: Secondary Social Studies

Thesis: The inclusion of handicapped students and the impact it has on their self concept.

Advisor: Mark Girod


B.S. in Sociology with High Honors, Portland State University, Portland, OR: June 2001

Minor: Psychology

Responsibilities & affiliations

Research and Network Affiliations:

Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF (https://www.dataforchildrencollaborative.com/): Child Poverty Working Group Member

The Global History of the OECD in Education Project (https://www.learning.aau.dk/forskning/centre-projekter/oecd-learning/): Associate Member

Scotland International Development Alliance (https://www.intdevalliance.scot/): Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Working Group Member

NORRAG: Network for International Policies and Cooperation in Education and Training (https://www.norrag.org/): Contributer

Comparative International Education Society (https://www.cies.us/): Globalization and Education Special Interest Group & Large Scale International Studies in Education Special Interest Group Member



Undergraduate teaching

Past Undergraduate Teaching Experience

  • Introduction to Comprative Education (Penn State University)
  • Education in American Society (Penn State University)

Postgraduate teaching

2020-2021 PGT Teaching Responsibilities

  • Comparative Education and International Development (Course Organizer)
  • Comparative Analysis in Education (Course Organizer)

Past PGT Courses at University of Edinburgh

  • Education Policy and the Politics of Education (Course Organizer)
  • Conceptualising Research: Foundations, Assumptions, and Praxis

Other PGT/Graduate Teaching Experience

  • International Educational Development (Sorbonne University, Paris, France)

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

Interested in supervising PhD students pursuing research in areas of education and development. A broad range of topics is considered including:

  • Global Governance and International Organizations
  • SDGs
  • Education and Health
  • Migration
  • Acess and Equity
  • Socio-political dimensions of national development
  • Global-local relationships
  • Critical views on policy discourse, creation, and difussion

I am not a higher education or an international education scholar

Current PhD students supervised

Takuja Numajiri: What matters for improving primary school mathematics education in St. Lucia? (Second Supervisor)

Serene Faysal Saab (starting Fall 2020): Translating Street-Smart Skills into Productive Outcomes Across Different Pathways for Street Children in Lebanon (Second Supervisor)

Research summary

Exploring Educations Role in Social and Economic Development & Barriers to the Benefits of Education.

My research is fueled by the belief that the power of education as an institution is immense, working both as a tool for upward mobility and for social reproduction. However, structural impediments often prevent individuals from fully capitalizing on the potential of education.  Focusing on the role of education in capitalizing health and economic capital my interests are situated around identifying macro level policies that may act as barriers, keeping some individuals from realizing the benefits of education. My work has resulted in over 40 publications, including my edited book, The Global Testing Culture: Shaping Education Policy, Perceptions, and Practice (Symposium Books, 2016).

Current research interests

Current research interests are situated in 3 areas: 1. Education and Social Development a) Barriers to accessing services b) Education and population health 2. Global Governance a) International organizations b) Global goals, monitoring, and local interpretations: a look at voluntary national reviews 3. Global Testing Culture a) Testing, teachers, and accountability b) Global learning metrics

Knowledge exchange

For interviews on the Global Testing Culture see:

Research activities

View all 14 activities on Research Explorer

Current project grants

Title: Child Poverty and Access to Services
Funding Source: Scottish Funding Council/ Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF
Amount: £109,137
Role/Contribution: Collaborating Investigator

Title: Universal Secondary Education in the Asia-Pacific Region
Funding Source: Scottish Funding Council
Amount: £20,000
Role/Contribution: Principal Investigator

View all 70 publications on Research Explorer

Conference details

Regular presenter at the annual Comparative International Education Society (CIES) Conference

Past presentations at annual/bi-annual conferences of Population Association of America (PAA), American Education Research Association (AERA), and the European Education Research Association (EERA)

Looking forward to participating more in the British Association for Interantional and Comparative Education (BAICE), the UK Education and Development Forum (UKFIET), and other venues spanning academia, civil society, and practitioners

Invited speaker

Past Invited Talks and Guest Lectures:

  • Teacher Satisfaction: Exploring the Role of Teacher Support and Evaluation (Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan - Delivered Remotely)
  • The Global Testing Culture: Challenges and Consequences for Today and Tomorrow (Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)
  • UNESCO and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report (University of Luxembourg - Delivered at UNESCO Headquarters)
  • UNESCO and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA - Delivered Remotely)
  • UNESCO and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report (Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden - Delivered Remotely)
  • Global Trends in Education (University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, USA - Delivered Remotely)