Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Professor Rochelle L. Dalla

Date of this Version



A Dissertation presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Human Sciences (Global Family Health and Wellbeing), Under the Supervision of Professor Rochelle L. Dalla Lincoln, Nebraska, July 2022. Copyright 2022 Victoria J. Johnson.


Providing education for children residing in remote or difficult-to-access locations, including children in refugee and displacement camps, is a staggering global challenge. In addition to logistical challenges (such as access, infrastructure, teaching professionals and resources), differences in language, culture, environment, and values render conventional (i.e., Western-based, traditional) modes of education unfeasible and frequently ineffective. However, a strengths-based lens reminds us that communities have the capacity to initiate solutions when they have access to the right tools. Historically underrepresented in the literature, Montessori education has been used for over a century by communities all over the world to prepare children through academic and developmental growth to contribute to their local and global societies. Using constructivist grounded theory methodology (Charmaz, 2014) this study explored the application of Montessori philosophy and methods in diverse settings around the world. Analyses were informed by more than two years of fieldwork (including ethnographic inquiry) and conducted from 34 interviews with practitioners (N = 31) in 14 countries to understand where (contexts), why (purposes), and how (processes) the Montessori approach was applied. Final theoretical models were derived from the findings, depicting the ways in which the Montessori approach was applied in diverse settings, including the strengths and challenges involved in that process. Final models illustrated both processes of implementation across settings and the spectrum of application initiated by Montessori philosophy, methodology, and praxis. This study contributes to the literature on global education and Montessori education by informing policy makers, leaders, trainers, practitioners, and communities how Montessori theories of human development may be applied through principles, practices, and methods in diverse and under-resourced locations to serve the academic and holistic development of children via community-based initiatives.

Advisor: Rochelle L. Dalla