Faculty Biography

nigel brissett - Clark University

Nigel O. M. Brissett, Ed.D.

Assistant Professor of International Development and Social Change
International Development, Community and Environment
Clark University
Worcester, MA 01610-1477

Email: nbrissett@clarku.edu
Phone:(508) 793-7691

Research, Teaching and Practitioner Interests

Educational policy and leadership; globalization and education; higher educational access and equity; postcolonial studies; critical theory; development and small island developing states (SIDS); grant writing and project management; critical policy analysis; Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Dr. Brissett's research focuses on how contemporary educational policies impact socio-economic opportunities in "developing" countries, particularly those of the post-colonial Caribbean, as well as other states around the world. His current work analyzes the intersection of neo-liberal principles and post-colonial social welfare policies, and the results that ensue. His research is especially attentive to issues of educational access and equity for marginalized groups in the era of rapid neo-liberal globalization.

In one of his more recent research projects, Dr. Brissett examines how skilled emigration — defined as emigrants holding a bachelor's degree or extensive/equivalent experience in a given field — from the Caribbean impacts educational policy nationally and regionally. This study highlights the complexity of developing effective policy to address a phenomenon, such as skilled emigration, that is subject to global forces (free-market principles, the free movement of labor) within the knowledge economy.

During the current academic year, Dr. Brissett will continue his research that engages with education policies in small island developing states (SIDS) by analyzing how size impacts their educational policy choices in the face of rapid internationalization and commercialization of education. In this study, Dr. Brissett develops an analytical framework of small state behavior, which suggests that small states are defined more by the impulse to reduce their vulnerability than to exploit opportunities when faced with external phenomena that supposedly provide both benefits and threats. This framework is applied comparatively to selected countries (of different sizes) of the Caribbean and Southeast Asia and their engagement with transnational higher education.

Dr. Brissett is also conducting research on the construction, implementation and politics of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the emerging Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He has designed and taught a course on the topic and recently chaired IDCE's MDG/SDG series.

Dr. Brissett's professional experiences have been quite diverse but are primarily focused on educational expansion and equity in low-resourced settings. He has worked on educational policies, programs and projects in the Caribbean to extend tertiary educational programs and services to fifteen countries in the region. He has also worked on educational reform initiatives for the Higher Educational system in Afghanistan.

In an earlier career, Dr. Brissett worked in Jamaica's banking sector, as well as co-managed a government subsidized student loan facility for low-income higher education students in the Caribbean.

Dr. Nigel Brissett was born in Jamaica, located in the northern Caribbean — a region with a rich but turbulent political, cultural and economic history. Much of this region's experiences, as well as Dr. Brissett's personal story, have shaped the social justice orientation of his intellectual work as he critically engages with the material and ontological worlds.


2011 Doctor of Education in Educational Policy and Leadership
University of Massachusetts Amherst

2002 Master of Science in Government
University of the West Indies, Mona

1998 Bachelor of Arts in Literatures in English
University of the West Indies, Mona

Courses Offered

International Development and Social Change

Development Theory
Global Issues in Education
The World's Biggest Promise: MDGs and the Post 2015 Development Agenda
Development Management in Developing Countries
Educational Policy Issues in Developing Countries
Development Program and Project Management

Selected Publications

Book (commissioned by the University of the West Indies)         

  • (with Vivienne Roberts). (2003). Pathways to Tertiary Education in the English Speaking Caribbean. Bridgetown, Barbados: University of the West Indies.

 Peer-reviewed articles and peer-reviewed chapters

  • (In Press) Jamaica's Teacher Education System: The Reach of History, and the Reach for History. Karras, K. G. and Wolhuter, C. C. (eds). International Handbook on Teacher Education Worldwide: Issues and Challenges for Teacher Profession. Athens, Atrapos Edition.
  • (2017) The SDGs and the Caribbean: Unrealizable promises? Progress in Development Studies, 17(2).
  • (with Mitter, R.). (2017). For function or transformation? A critical discourse analysis of education under the Sustainable Development Goals. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 15(1).
  • (2017). Theorizing state size behavior and transnational higher education. In T. Jules & P. Ressler (eds.) Is "small" always small and "big" always big? Re-reading educational policy and practice in small states –Comparative Studies Series. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
  • (2016).  From "Growth Driven" to "Regulatory Control": Tertiary Education Governance in Jamaica and the Caribbean. In T. Jules (ed.) The New Global Educational Policy Environment: Gated, Regulated and Governed. Emerald's Public Policy and Governance Series, Volume 26, The New Global Educational Policy Environment Gated, Regulated and Governed. Emerald Group Pub. 217-241.
  • (2013). Reading conformity, resistance, and hybridity in Jamaica's educational policy reform approaches. Journal of Postcolonial Cultures and Societies, 4 (4).
  • (2010). Jamaica's policy discourse in the age of globalization: Framing education as (private) investment. The Global South, 4 (2).
  • (with Jeanette Grant Woodham). (2009). Background, scope and conduct of the study. In Bevis Peters & L. Whittington (Eds.). Human Resource Needs and the Tertiary Education Sector Response in the Caribbean. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers.   

Publications under-review or revision

  • (submitted October 2016) I am my brothers' keeper, but…Views of faculty of color mentoring students of color.  Review of Higher Education.

Selected non-refereed articles

  • (2003). Higher education and the World Trade Organization: Threat or opportunity? – A Caribbean perspective. TLIU Lightrays, 6.
  • (with Jeannette Grant-Woodham). (2002). Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition: An instrument for integrating regional Tertiary Level Education. TLIU Lightrays, 5.

Book reviews

  • (2015). Ezrow, Natasha M., and Erica Frantz. Failed States and Institutional Decay: Understanding Institutional stability and Poverty in the Developing World. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013. The Caribbean Journal of International Relations & Diplomacy, 3(1).
  • (2014). Neither World Polity nor Local or National Societies: Regionalization in the Global South—the Caribbean Community by Tavis Deryck Jules. Comparative Education Review, 58(2) 8-10.

Selected Presentations

2017. "For function or transformation? A critical discourse analysis of education under the Sustainable Development Goals," Global Higher Education and Research (GHEAR) initiative, the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN). The workshop titled: "Sustainable Development Goals for Higher Education," The University of Massachusetts Amherst, May 1, 2017.

2015. "Does size matter? Theorizing State Size Behavior and Transnational Higher Education: Jamaica and Malaysia," A conference hosted by Caribbean Studies Program of Howard University with support from the University of Maryland, entitled "A Global Crossroads? Caribbean Studies beyond the Disciplines," September 9 - 10, 2015

2015. "Adapting and Contesting the Global Order: Tertiary Education Policy and Governance in the Caribbean," Caribbean Studies Association 40th Annual Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, 25 May 2015 – 29, 2015.

2015. "Climate change and the world's poor: Implications for the new global development initiative, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)." Clark University Campus-wide Climate Change Teach-in, March 26, 2015. (Invited).

2015. "Change and complexity: Higher educational governance in the Caribbean," Comparative and International Education Society, 2015 Annual Conference, Washington DC, March 8-13, 2015.
2013. "Conformity, Resistance, and Hybridity in Jamaica's Educational Policy Reform Approaches," Comparative and International Education Society, 2013 Annual Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, March 10-15, 2013.

2012. "Reading resistance, conformity and hybridity in educational policy reform," 21st Annual British Commonwealth & Postcolonial Studies Conference, Savannah, Georgia, February 17-18, 2012.
2010. "A critical analysis of Jamaica's emerging educational policy discourse(s) in the age of globalization," Comparative and International Education Society, 2010 Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois.

2008. "Jamaica's emerging educational policy discourse: Implications for social equity in the knowledge economy," Comparative and International Education Society, 2008 Annual Conference, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY, March 17-21.

2007. "National identity (re)construction and Jamaica's educational system: A case of historical incongruence," Comparative and International Education Society, 2007 Annual Conference, Baltimore.

2003. "Higher Education and the World Trade Organization: Threat or Opportunity? — A Caribbean Perspective," UNESCO Philosophy Day, themed: "Philosophy, Global Justice and Teacher Education." University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.