College of Education and Human Development
CEHD Welcomes Dean Guerra-López
July 21, 2022
Get to know Dean Ingrid Guerra-López in a recent Q&A!
Q. Why Mason? What brings you to Mason’s College of Education and Human Development?
Mason’s social mission really resonates with my core values and my own vision for a just, generous, and sustainable world. As a systems thinker, one of the most powerful lessons I learned from my doctoral advisor and mentor is that organizations are means to societal ends, and that if we are not working together toward clear and measurable societal impact, then we need to ask ourselves whether that work should be done at all.
The work of the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) is anchored in that societal impact mission and continues to innovate through research and through the preparation of professionals that add societal value through schools, organizations, and communities. CEHD has an impressive breadth of academic programs and centers that some may be surprised to find in one college, and that interdisciplinarity uniquely positions us to be a key partner in assessing and addressing some of today’s most complex societal problems. I am beyond honored to be part of a group of such remarkable colleagues.
Q. What would you say is your strategic vision for the college?
We are experiencing a pivotal convergence of social changes at a particularly accelerated rate that brings both challenges and great opportunities for our college. It’s essential to start by defining the needs of those we serve.
As we look at learner needs and the imperative to ensure equity in access, academic success, and economic and social mobility, we must develop a shared understanding of the future of learning and work, and the ways in which we can support physical and mental well-being and positive quality of life. With people living longer than ever before, and the emergence of the gig economy, we have to explore additional ways and means of serving lifelong learning needs.
Employer needs are also evolving as they seek to stay competitive by recruiting diverse talent, upskilling for competitive advantage, reskilling to reduce turnover, retaining and growing talent through ongoing learning and development, and even outskilling to support employees in finding better-suited opportunities with other employers. These needs bring the potential for impactful partnerships for local, regional, national, and global talent and economic development.
Through the pandemic, we have seen—perhaps more clearly than ever before—the ubiquitous integration of technology in every aspect of our lives. Advances in learning technologies can enhance well-designed learning systems and bring us increased options for improving flexibility, access, quality, and more equitable support for learning and performance. Other technologies such as blockchain can support greater autonomy for learners by supporting alternative micro credentials that are anchored in core skills and competencies valued by employers. As we see the nature of work and the workplace evolving, and Industry 4.0 emerging, the opportunities are endless.
Technology also plays an important role in the evolution of exercise, sport, and recreation. We have seen the emergence of high-tech exercise equipment intersecting with social media and virtual social experiences and have benefitted from advances in research technologies that provide enhanced performance support and safety for athletes and other professionals. Important research questions and opportunities are also emerging with the imperative to develop a deeper understanding of the impact of those changes on physical, social, emotional, and cognitive health and well-being of individuals and communities. These are just a few of the contextual factors within which we will work collaboratively to define our shared CEHD strategic priorities.
Q. Diversity has long been a staple of Mason. Why is diversity particularly important in learning and research within Mason’s College of Education and Human Development?
It’s foundational. Diversity of thought, experiences, perspective, backgrounds, and just about any characteristic plays a critical role in excellence and innovation. Diversity facilitates the kind of nonlinear thinking, adaptability, and creativity that is essential for generating new ideas and important research questions and approaches. That is also an essential dimension of a college experience. We provide an environment where students have the opportunity to think critically and seek novel information and perspectives that lead to better decision making and problem solving.
If you look across our wide range of academic programs, and the outstanding work of our faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners, you will see that we are all in one way or another working to strengthen and grow a diverse, inclusive, and equitable learning, working, and living environment. So, in addition to diversity, our success as a college also depends on how well we value, engage, and include the rich diversity of each member of our community. Meaningful engagement and meeting the needs of all stakeholders require us to recognize that each of us has experienced our own set of circumstances and that no single pathway is exactly the same. Therefore, we have to ensure that we serve and support a wide range of needs, and that we continue to reimagine and redesign a system that leads to long-term, sustainable, equitable access and success for generations to come.
Q. What would you like students, faculty, staff, and partners to gain from your tenure as dean?
There are a lot of moving parts to this role, and many who contribute to our shared successes, lessons learned, and growth. While I happen to serve in a formal leadership capacity, the reality is that we all lead and contribute to our college in integral ways. One of the things that drew me to Mason and CEHD was the collaborative and innovative energy I felt when I visited the campus for the first time, and my hope is that we continue to strengthen a climate and culture that nurtures a sense of belonging and collaboration.
I would like to build honest and authentic relationships where people experience me as a person who listens, reflects, and genuinely wants to help. I want to be a true partner of meaningful change … someone who is open to questioning the status quo, who wants to explore what could be, and who will work with you to find the way to make things better.
Q. On a personal note, what are some of your hobbies, interests, or things that bring you great joy when you’re away from the college?
I have always had a lot of interests … As a child I recall often telling my mother that when I grew up, I was going to visit every country, see how they did things there, and learn every language. While I haven’t quite made it to every country or learned every language, I have been incredibly fortunate to work in many interesting places and collaborate with amazing people who have taught me many ways of seeing and doing things. Traveling continues to be such a humbling experience for me and reminds me that the world is filled with infinite possibilities. I travel with my children as much as possible because it’s a great way to help them develop an appreciation for different ways of experiencing the world.
I am also really into fitness and have been part of an amazing CrossFit community for several years. While the pandemic disrupted my physical engagement with that community, I still consistently find time for my WOD (Workout of the Day) and absolutely love the ongoing challenge of improving a skill or developing a new one. For me, one of the best things about CrossFit is that it truly is a supportive community, and you can always count on someone to encourage and help you through the most simple or difficult of challenges, whatever your current skill level.
I could go on, but in a nutshell, I treasure every minute I can spend with my family, and love lots of different kinds of music, food, art, dance, and movies.