The Academic Affairs department of Pacific Oaks College is the primary unit responsible for the quality of academic programs offered at the College.  Academic Affairs ensures the mission and values of Pacific Oaks are translated in the pedagogy and curricula used and taught. The academic staff and faculty at Pacific Oaks have a long tradition of providing high quality courses and learning experiences, that are informed by the academic values created by the faculty. The values have philosophical foundations informed by the works of Paulo Freire-Pedagogy of the Oppressed; Antonia Darder-The Critical Pedagogy Reader; Bell Hooks-Teaching Community: Pedagogy of Hope; Louise Derman Sparks-Anti Bias Curriculum; and, Elizabeth Jones-Teaching Adults. From these scholars, the faculty have embraced the following values: 


Faculty Core Values ​​​

As articulated by College Faculty (Spring 2010) 

Core ValueThe Democratic Classroom 

  • Democracy as a goal reflects the assumption that all members of a community have the right to contribute to its governance.  Up to the level of everyone's ability to cope with its complexity, the diversity of thinking when everyone's voice is heard generates a more moral, more intelligent, more interesting society. 
  • Diversity generates both curiosity and conflict.  The resulting disequilibrium provokes continuing learning (Piaget).  Conflict resolution – confronting, naming, and examining different points of view – is basic to conscious knowing and action. 
  • Progressive education emphasizes learning through experience, self-expression, action and reflection, and the social construction of knowledge.  (Dewey, Vygotsky) 
  • Inevitably, democracy (where all are equal) is threatened by the emergence of hierarchies (where some are more equal than others).  (Orwell)  Critical pedagogy demands continual alertness to the biases that limit awareness of others' experience. (Freire) 
  • In the democratic classroom, learning is a mutual experience.  Teachers and students learn from and with each other. Students share responsibility for creating a learning community.   

​Core Value:  Inclusion/Diversity/Social Justice 
  • The democratic ideal asserts that diversity is an essential component of a society.  ideally characterized by social justice – fairness for all. 
  • A crucial area of knowledge for human services professionals is understanding of the social/political contexts of development.   Naming the culture of power and speaking truth to power (Quakers) by engaging in effective action are essential to achieve transparency in a democracy.  Absence of fairness must be continually recognized and named.  Vigilance and continual questioning are essential to sustain social justice.   (Kozol)  
  • Human beings are social animals predisposed to develop power structures and pecking orders. In any society over time, established processes and standards will serve to maintain the status of those historically and currently in power.  The benefits of power are not relinquished lightly.  People with power are strongly invested in holding on to it; even those who give lip service to the vision of an egalitarian society expect their children to be more equal than others.  When testing is relied upon to create winners and losers, the privileged are good at ensuring that it is their children who continue to win.  (Jones & Cooper, Kohn, Meier)  Groups experiencing oppression have to take action on their own behalf, since those who hold the power are disinclined to notice those who don't.     
  • Education has the potential either to domesticate – to sustain the status quo – or to liberate. (Freire)  Naming the culture of power (Delpit) and practicing critical thinking - the doubting game (Elbow) - are basic to a liberatory education.     
  • The believing game (Elbow) – practicing empathy for those not like us – is an essential element in recognizing unfairness and practicing anti-bias education (Derman-Sparks et al.).  Human services professionals have an obligation to keep broadening the diversity of their relationships.  It is easier for me to live with, teach, and understand those who are most like myself.  I need challenge to move beyond my assumptions. 
  • Bicultural development, including bilingualism, should be an asset not a liability in a diverse society.  Biculturality broadens empathy, provides practice in perspective-shifting, and strengthens cognitive skills.  Biculturation strategies name and respect more than one way of being in the world, and teach diverse ways to children.   Acquisition of another language and culture should be additive, not subtractive. (Cummins, Cronin) 

Core ValueCaring                        
  • Caring as a value reflects the assumption that human services professions require a moral commitment to those served.   Morality can be based on justice (Kohlberg) or on caring (Gilligan).  Justice is blind (to the needs of individuals).  Caring is based on empathy for the needs of individuals.  A feminine ethic is grounded in caring (Noddings) and connected knowing (Belenky et al.) 
  • Children need care; they are our future.  Families need care.  Professionals providing educational and social services to children and families must be skilled in developing caring relationships. 
  • The structural parallels of the ethics of justice and of caring are bureaucracy and community.  Traditional communities are based in relationship; everyone knows and is responsible to and for everyone.   A community that grows too large to sustain this option is well-served by bureaucracy, which creates a dependable, rule-based structure for doing and learning.   It does so, however, at the expense of individual differences.     
  • Bureaucratic rules provide a stable context within which teaching and learning relationships can be built.  Rules should not, however, determine the implementation of the curriculum. The teacher is not a technician, but a co-learner. (Kamii, Jones)  
  • Curriculum is emergent, in an active-learning setting.   Learning happens in relationships.  Caring is required to sustain relationships. 
  • Conflict resolution based in care is an essential skill for human services professionals. 

Core Value:  Building on Strengths/Authentic Assessment 
  • Valuing the uniqueness of each person is basic to Pacific Oaks mission. 
  • Many educational settings rely on competition to motivate learners and to weed out the less excellent.  Mastering games and performance skills, learners are coached to win.       In limited-access professions and educational programs and auditions and work positions, admission is competitive.  Only the brightest and the best are wanted.  
  • When the goal is to win – to race for the top and outdo others - assessment is competitive, sorting and classifying learners on a common standard.  Standardized tests, ostensibly a fair “research-based" measure, are in fact designed to make sure that the children of those in power do best.  (Kozol, Kohn, Meier, Green)   
  • In contrast, many social responsibilities are met on a non-competitive basis.  Human services professions need all of those committed to serve in some role. Pacific Oaks applicants have already completed at least two years of college.  And they are, with few exceptions, already working collaboratively in positions somewhere on the career lattice that characterizes early childhood education and related fields.  All bring strengths that can be recognized and built upon. 
  • In those programs that prepare students for state certification (teacher credentialing, counselor licensing), we adapt to another level of screening.   Admission requires an interview, gauged to predict the likelihood of the student's making it through the program, which includes state tests.  Coaching for survival skills in bureaucratic settings is built into the program.  
  • Educating young children begins with the expectation that all children can learn, and with recognition of their right to learn. (Malaguzzi)  Children learn most effectively when intrinsically motivated – when they are given choices.  They grow in understanding as they are challenged by new experiences and by genuine questions.  (Paley)  Collaborative problem-solving is the basic skill to be mastered, not competition. 
  • Building on the strengths of diverse adult learners, Pacific Oaks offers them the ideal, Value the child, save the world.  They are asked, Who are you?  What can you contribute to the quality of life for children and those who touch their lives each day? How can you grow and change?  Self-understanding is basic to purposeful growth and transformation. 
  • Authentic assessment is based on written and oral documentation and demonstration in performance.  It seeks to construct an informative, individualized story/picture of the student's learning and competence, not to rank the student on a numerical scale.  Students are neither tested nor graded in their Pacific Oaks classes.     We are building on existing skills and life experience, engaging students in self-assessment.   Goals are defined broadly, to be inclusive of multiple strengths.  (Gardner) 

Core Value:  Learning through Play: A Liberal Studies Model for Adults 
  • Play – intrinsically motivated construction of knowledge - needs to be mastered as a lifelong skill, basic to investigation and complex thinking in the arts, in the sciences, and in human relations.  In the course of the human life cycle, this skill-building comes to the fore at two stages: Initiative (early childhood, especially ages 3 to 5) and Generativity (adulthood - making the world work for everyone else).  (Erikson)  In its Children's School and College, Pacific Oaks focuses on each of these stages. 
  • Play is an active learning process, requiring wholehearted participation. It builds on prior learning of physical skills and basic facts. Passive learning is a form of breathing in, receiving new information.  Active learning is breathing out – trying out one's knowledge and passions in the real world.   (Ashton-Warner) 
  • A play environment for adult learners offers choices, especially choices among activities that are open-ended and complex (Prescott & Jones).  Andragogy - pedagogy for adult learners (Knowles) - reflects the play-based model of developmentally appropriate pedagogy for children. 
  • Adults play not only with objects but also with stories – their own and others'.  They play at doubting and believing:  How could that be true?  Under what circumstances might that be true?  Can we argue?  Can we agree?  Can we construct new ideas and new stories together – connecting our knowing? (Belenky et al., Elbow)   
  • Play is transformative – it is an opportunity to use the imagination to construct new schema and achieve new depth of understanding.   It contributes to intellectual and moral autonomy.  (Elkind, Kamii, Piaget, Vygotsky)
  • Pacific Oaks College, which concentrates on upper division and, especially, graduate programs, offers advanced, not basic, learning for human services professionals – teachers, supervisors, counselors.  These learners need to reflect actively on their experience, for practice in relationship building and the social construction of knowledge.  Their challenges are exploration of problems, playing with questions and hypotheses, and systematic investigation of self-initiated problems.   They are playing to get smart, and working to define the desired outcomes of their inquiry. 

​Core Value:  Intellectual and Moral Autonomy 
  • To understand is to invent.  (Piaget, Kamii)  
  • We are not providing standardized coaching for a standardized set of skills; we are challenging learners to construct their own skill-set for caring, ethical work with other human beings.  We resist those trends in education that assume that all learners should be rated on the same criteria and compete for the same rewards. 
  • To be human is to have the privilege of making conscious choices.  We observe, think, remember and reflect.  We construct representations of our experience – words, images – so we can go back to them in our minds and share them with other members of our group of social animals, and discover our differences and think and talk and construct some more.  (Reggio Emilia) 
  • Choice begins with a question, “What will happen if I/we . . .?"  With experience, it becomes a hypothesis, “If I/we do that, this will happen."  Making credible hypotheses is learned through mastering play.  All of us construct theories to live by, whether or not we put them into words.  Theories are generalized principles based on experienced data.     In human development, life stories are our data.  (Lawrence-Lightfoot, Witherell & Noddings, Coles, Egan)  
  • Age, temperament, gender, culture and language are among the defining characteristics of human beings learning to relate to each other.  If I understand you in the context of your life, I might be able to live generously with you.  And so Pacific Oaks takes seriously the study of lifespan human development - giving us names, patterns, questions and skills for respectful, caring interaction with our fellow human beings.  
  • Moral and intellectual autonomy serves as the context for acting with personal integrity, based in self-understanding and respect for others.   Pacific Oaks encourages learners to find their own voices, to take stands in the face of opposition, and to exercise competence in collaboration with others.  (Mission Statement) 

Core Value: Transformative Learning 
  • We expect this learning experience for adult human services professionals to be transformative – to result in significant changes in how they live their lives and how they understand their relationships with others.  Through reading, dialogue, practice, reflective thinking, and the disequilibrium that generates new insights, adults gain perspective on their lives as well as on their work.    To teach, counsel, supervise, consult, administer human services organizations, and support the growth of others, attention to one's own growth is essential.   
  • Pacific Oaks classes and projects demand attention to the personal.  Know thyself.  Listen to others.   Be attentive to others.  Believe in the potential of others, at any stage of development.   Become a more sensitive, aware, caring, responsive human being.  Tell us how your life has been changed. 

    bjones: 4/15/10 

    These values are translated and brought alive in each classroom. From this we provide a curriculum that includes: 
  • Relational learning experience that is meaningful, intellectually stimulating, relevant and personal; 
  • Is Culture Centered model that promotes validation, visibility, and meaningful dialogue and inquiry; teaches critical thinking skills in more than one language; and embraces appreciation of multiple ways of learning, communicating, inquiry, and participation; 
  • Uses Emerging Curriculum, which expresses and validates the integration of life experiences and opportunities in the classroom that emerge from the course of study, and the dynamic responses of students. 


    The Academic Affairs department includes all of the academic staff, and all levels of faculty, and is led by the Vice President of Academic Affairs, along with Deans for the School of Human Development, School of Cultural & Family Psychology and School of Education. 

    Meet the Deans 

    Dr. Terry Webster – School of Human Development [email protected]  

    Dr. Jerell Hill – School of Education [email protected]  

    Dr. Andrew Kami (Interim) – School of Cultural & Family Psychology [email protected] 


    Academic Affairs Staff and Faculty 

    Francisco Aragon – Manager of Academic Affairs [email protected] 

    Christine Waldron—Program Manager for Instructional System  [email protected]   

    Dr. Ja Ne't Rommero – Program Director for General Education [email protected] 

    Dr. Theresa Greene – Program Director for Business and Management [email protected] 


    Current Events 

    New Programs Launching Fall 2020!
  • Social Work https://www.pacificoaks.edu/social-work-degree-programs/ 

Contact Us

Office of Academic Affairs 
45 Eureka Street 
Pasadena, CA 91103 


Faculty Finder
Credentials Office