Daniel A. Wagner
Dr. Daniel A. Wagner is the UNESCO Chair in Learning and Literacy, and Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania where his research specializes in learning, literacy, child development, educational technologies, and international educational development. He is founding Director (1983) of Penn’s Literacy Research Center and the federally funded National Center on Adult Literacy (1990). In recent years, the center has become the International Literacy Institute (ILI), co-established by UNESCO and the University of Pennsylvania. Wagner is also the Director of Penn’s International Educational Development Program (IEDP) and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Anthropological Association, and the American Educational Research Association. He is the author numerous books and articles on learning, literacy, cross-cultural research and methodologies, and is a frequent speaker at major national and international conferences across the world. He has worked as an advisor to, among others, the World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF, USAID, and DFID. In 2012, Wagner was appointed by Hillary Clinton as a Member of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. In the same year, he was named UNESCO Chair in Learning and Literacy. In 2012-2014, he served as Chair of the Brookings Global Research Task Force on Learning. In 2014, he was a recipient of the UNESCO Confucius International Literacy Prize. He has maintained multi-year educational projects in India, South Africa, and Morocco.
Born in 1946 and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Wagner’s grandfather was an electrical engineer who helped to build the first electricity grid and street lighting in the city of Chicago in the 1920s. Following in his grandfather's and father's footsteps, Daniel Wagner completed his undergraduate degree in Engineering from Cornell University in 1968. In graduate school he shifted to psychology, completing a Master’s in Experimental Psychology from the University of Michigan in 1971, and a PhD in Developmental Psychology in 1976. Later, he was a NIH post-doctoral fellow in Human Development at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education between 1979-81. He has been a Visiting Fellow at the International Institute of Educational Planning in Paris, a Visiting Professor at the University of Geneva (Switzerland), and a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Paris-René Descartes. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco for two years 1968-70 working as a civil engineer in rural areas of the Middle Atlas Mountains.
Advising to international development agencies and organizations
Wagner has served as an advisor to a wide range of agencies, including: United Nations, UNESCO, UNICEF, Ford Foundation, IDRC, World Bank, USAID, UK-DFID, OECD, Van Leer Foundation, International Institute for Educational Planning, International Bureau of Education, Fast Track Initiative/Global Partnership for Education, U.S. Department of Education, National Science Foundation, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, National Academy of Sciences, and numerous NGO and university-funded projects.
Research and Development Agenda
Wagner research focuses on learning, literacy, child development, educational technologies, and international educational development. This work focuses on understanding how learning takes place in children, youth and adults in a variety of settings. His work is diverse in terms of subsectors of education, including both early grade reading and adult literacy, bilingualism and cognitive development, improving learning assessments in developing countries, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
He has worked in the following regions/countries: Senegal, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Botswana, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania, Egypt, Yemen, Indonesia, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Philippines, China, Taiwan, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Great Britain, France, Netherlands, and Belgium.
As Director of the International Educational Development Program (IEDP) at the University of Pennsylvania, Wagner oversees an annual cohort of approximately 20-30 Masters and Doctoral students. Since 2009, the IEDP has graduated more than 100 students, who work in a number of international organizations, such as: UNESCO, UNICEF, OECD, World Bank, Save the Children, and Aga Khan Foundation. The program has a close relationship with UNESCO and the Peace Corps, and is responsible for the PennIEDP-Peace Corps Coverdell Fellowships and the UNESCO Fellowship.
Awards and affiliations
Wagner has received the following awards: Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Anthropological Association, and the American Educational Research Association. He was Co-Head of the Penn Global Development Initiative, Visiting Fellow (twice) International Institute of Educational Planning, UNESCO, Paris. Fulbright Fellow, University of Paris René Descartes. Named UNESCO Chair in Learning and Literacy. Inaugurated by the UNESCO Director-General and Provost of the University of Pennsylvania, March 2012. WISE International Education Award 2011, Finalist among 14 runners-up worldwide from Qatar Foundation. Appointed by Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Department of State, to be a Member of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. Chair of the Brookings Institution Global Research Task Force on Learning, 2012-2013. Lead organizer of the MOOCs for Development: International Invitational Conference. Philadelphia, April 2014. Co-recipient of the UNESCO Confucius International Literacy Award. He has served on the Editorial Boards of the following professional journals: Editorial Board, Human Development, Reading Research Quarterly, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Interamerican Journal of Psychology, Written Language and Literacy, Compare–A Journal of Comparative Education. 
In the media
Wagner’s work has been reported in the media in a number of places. For example, see: http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/pope-francis-universal-literacy-by-daniel-a--wagner-2015-10 http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/resources/online-materials/single-view/news/informed_citizens_build_sustainable_societies_says_dan_wagner_unesco_chair_in_learning_and_literacy/#.VfS3Z7RTCmB http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/single-view/news/informed_citizens_build_sustainable_societies_says_dan_wagner_unesco_chair_in_learning_and_literacy/#.VfPwn7RTCmB https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjRcD16SOCg
In addition to over 160 professional publications, Wagner has written or edited 25 books.
- Selected works
• Wagner, D. A. (Ed.). (2014). Learning and Education In Developing Countries: Research and Policy for the Post-2015 UN Development Goals. NY: Palgrave Macmillan. https://www.amazon.com/Learning-Education-Developing-Countries-Development-ebook/dp/B00MGOB930/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=
• Wagner, D. A. (2014). Mobiles for Reading: A Landscape Research Review. Technical Report. Washington, DC: USAID. https://web.archive.org/web/20160307023227/http://www.meducationalliance.org/sites/default/files/usaid_wagner_report_finalforweb_14jun25_1.pdf
• Wagner, D. A., Murphy, K. M. & de Korne, H. (2012). Learning first: A research agenda for improving learning in low-income countries. Center for Universal Education Working Paper. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution. https://web.archive.org/web/20160304091151/http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2012/12/learning%20first%20wagner%20murphy%20de%20korne/12%20learning%20first%20wagner%20murphy%20de%20korne.pdf
• Wagner, D. A. (2011). What happened to literacy? Historical and conceptual perspectives on literacy in UNESCO. International Journal of Educational Development. 31, 319–323.
• Wagner, D. A. (2011). Smaller, Quicker, Cheaper: Improving Learning Assessments in Developing Countries. Paris/Washington: UNESCO-IIEP/FTI-Global Partnership for Education. (in English and French) http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002136/213663e.pdf
• Wagner, D. A. (2010). Quality of education, comparability, and assessment choice in developing countries. COMPARE: A Journal of Comparative and International Education 40(6): 741-760.
• Wagner, D. A. (2008). Global perspectives on the science of literacy and education. Handbook of Cross-Cultural Developmental Science. M. Bornstein (eds.). NJ: Erlbaum.
• Wagner, D. A. (2008). Alphabetisation et le lettrisme aujourd’hui. Dictionnaire de l’education. A. van Zanten (eds.). Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
• Wagner, D. A., & Sweet, R. (Eds.) (2006). ICT and Learning: Supporting Out-of-School Youth and Adults. Paris: OECD/NCAL, 2006.
• Wagner, D. A. & Kozma, R. (2010). New technologies for literacy and adult education: A global perspective. Paris: UNESCO. (In English, French and Arabic).
• Wagner, D. A. (Ed.) (2005). Monitoring and Evaluation of ICT in Education Projects: A Handbook for Developing Countries. Washington, D.C.: World Bank/InfoDev. http://www.infodev.org/infodev-files/resource/InfodevDocuments_9.pdf
• Wagner, D. A., Venezky, R. L., & Street, B. V. (Eds.). (1999). Literacy: An International Handbook. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
• Wagner, D. A. (1990), Literacy: Developing the future (in 5 languages)
Wagner lives in Philadelphia with his wife (a lecturer and psychologist) and two children.
- "UNESCO Chair in Learning and Literacy".
- Goodman, Howard. "International Literacy Institute".
- Bhat, Shruti. "UNESCO at CIES".
- "National Commission for UNESCO".
- "Confucius International Literacy Prize". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- "Daniel Wagner: Bio". literacy.org.
- "WiseInitiative". wise-qatar.org.
- "MiddleEastCenter". www.sas.upenn.edu.[permanent dead link]
- "UPENN GSE IEDP". gse.upenn.iedp.
- "LiteracyUNESCOAward". gse.upenn.edu.
- University of Pennsylvania: http://www.upenn.edu
- International Literacy Institute: www.literacy.org
- International Educational Development Program: www.gse.upenn.edu/iedp
- MOOCs4D conference: www.moocs4d.org
- UNESCO Chair: http://www.unesco.org/en/university-twinning-and-networking/access-by-region/europe-and-north-america/united-states-of-america/unesco-chair-in-learning-and-literacy-929/