College of Education and Human Development

Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development

Gerald Fry

  • Professor

Gerald Fry

Areas of interest

Education Reform in Thailand and Southeast Asia
Reducing Educational Inequalities
Impact of Study Abroad
Cross-Cultural Communication


BA, Stanford University
MPA, Princeton University
PhD, Stanford University



My background is Amish, although as a city-reared Kansas boy I was the only member of my extended family who didn’t speak Amish. Maybe that’s what prompted my interest in learning languages. I studied abroad as an undergraduate in Germany, taught in the Peace Corps in Thailand, and did fieldwork in Costa Rica on the relationship between education and national development. I eventually obtained my doctorate in international development education from Stanford, with a focus on Southeast Asia. Later, as head of the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Oregon, I continued to be particularly interested in education and development issues in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. I enjoy moving, changing, and taking on new challenges. I have a total of approximately 13 years of fieldwork experience in mainland Southeast Asia over a period of six decades and am fluent in Thai and Lao. I’d like to see teaching about Asia improved in public schools, and to that end have collaborated with the Asia Society in New York.

In 1994-1995, I had the opportunity to spend a sabbatical doing fieldwork in Laos as team leader for an Asia Development Bank (ADB)-funded education reform project. The project involved practical efforts to improve the quality of education through reform, such as training educators and producing new textbooks. I also served as team leader for an ADB-funded educational finance and management study in Thailand providing the research base for Thailand’s major education reform. Several years later (2002), I was asked by the ADB to prepare a synthesis report on education reform in Thailand. I have also done considerable research on Vietnam, a country where I spent time as a visiting professor.

Since 1993, I have been regularly taking study groups to Southeast Asia. I have led four University of Minnesota Global Seminars to Thailand and Laos. In the fall of 2008, I received an award from the Learning Abroad Center for promoting diversity in study abroad. I have also taken groups to Southeast Asia for Stanford and the East-West Center and took a Fulbright group to Cambodia.

In 2006-2007, I had a sabbatical in Japan. During that period I did research for the basic reference book on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which was published in the fall of 2008, as part of a series on global organizations.

During 2008-2009, I assisted the UNESCO Office for Asia and Pacific with two projects: 1) a study of education and development in Thailand and 2) a comparative study of secondary education in China, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Lao PDR.

I also had a major research grant with the late professor R. Michael Paige looking at the long-term impact of study abroad on global engagement. This project was funded through the International Research Title VI program of the U.S. Department of Education. The project was titled Beyond Immediate Impact: Study Abroad for Global Engagement. Also with Dr. Paige I published a major monograph for the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) on how study abroad transforms careers, world views, and outlooks on life, based on a major research project funded by CIEE.

In August 2009, I gave a presentation (in collaboration with a CIDE graduate student) at the International Convention of Asian Studies (held in Korea) on the complexities of understanding cultures that are similar such as Japanese and Korean and Thai and Lao. At their most recent convention at Leiden University in the Netherlands in July, 2019, I presented a paper on the evolution of inequality in Thailand.

In 2013, I completed the major reference work (in English) on all aspects of Thai society. Its title is the Historical Dictionary of Thailand. I just completed in 2018 a comprehensive book on education in Thailand titled, Education in Thailand: An Old Elephant in Search of a New Mahout, published by Springer Three of my major current research projects are education for healthy aging and strategies to reverse aging, a project on happiness education, and a critical analysis of Chinese “soft power” in Laos and Thailand, reflected in their BRI initiative. The expectation is that the first two projects will result in two or three major books.

I try to emphasize interactive, experiential, and participatory learning in my classrooms. I enjoy teaching, and have developed a number of innovative courses at Minnesota. I’m really pleased to be living in an urban area with such large and diverse Asian and African diasporas. I also served for many years on the Board of the Directors of the Hmong Cultural Center, located in St. Paul and in 2017-2018, I served as Chairman of the Board.


Jon, J. E., Shin, Y. J., & Fry, G. W. (2020). Understanding study abroad participants’ career decisions and perspectives in US higher education. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education50(1), 53-70.

Fry, G. W., Chun, H., & Apahung, R. (2019). Responding to accelerating multicultural challenges: comparative cultural democracy in Korea and Thailand. Multicultural Education Review11(4), 271-295.

Fry, G. W. and Rosarin A. (in press).  Integrative, interdisciplinary strategies to enhance global literacies.  Chapter 11. In Babaci-Wilhite, Z. (Ed). Integral education, critical thinking and 21st century literacies for multidisciplinary courses. San Diego: Cognella.

Sukanya C., Thunwita S., and Fry, G. W. (in press). Higher education in Thailand. In Noblit, G. (Ed). Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. New York: Oxford University Press.

Fry, G. W., Chun, H., and Rosarin A. (2019). Responding to accelerating multicultural challenges: Comparative cultural democracy in Korea and Thailand. Multiethnic Education Review (December).

Fry, G. W.  (2019).  Strategies to reverse ageing. The Nation, February 15.

Fry, G. W., Ed. (2018). Education in Thailand: An old elephant in search of a new mahout. Singapore: Springer.

Jon, J. E., Shin,Y. J., and Fry, G. W. (2018). Understanding study abroad participants’ career decisions and perspectives in U.S. higher education. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education.

Fry, G. W., and Rosarin A. (2018). A Buddhist path to student happiness: A case study of Thailand. In Murata, Y. (Ed)., Kyouiku Kaihastu Niokeru Tonan-Ajia Moderu no Kochiku [Southeast Asian Educational Model for Developing Countries] (pp. 39-61). Tokyo: BookWay (article in both Japanese and English).

Fry, G. W. (2015).  Educational intercultural leadership. In Bennett, J. (Ed). The Sage encylopedia of intercultural competence (pp. 281-284). Thousand Oaks, CA.: SAGE Publications.

Fry, G. W. (2015).  Disciplinary approaches to culture: Sociology. In Bennett, J. (Ed). The Sage encylopedia of intercultural competence (pp. 261-264). Thousand Oaks, CA.: SAGE Publications.

Fry, G. W., Nieminen, G. A., and Smith, H. (2013). The historical dictionary of Thailand. Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press.

Fry, G. W., and Bi, H. (2013). The evolution of educational reform in Thailand: The Thai educational paradox. Journal of Educational Administration 51, 3, 290-319.

Fry, G. W., and Pham, L. H. (2011). Vietnam as an outlier: Past, tradition and change. In Brock, C. and Symaco, L. (Eds.), Education in Southeast Asia (pp. 221-243), Oxford Studies in Comparative Education Series.

Paige, R. M., Fry, G. W., et al. (2010). Beyond immediate impact: Study abroad for global engagement (SAGE). Research report submitted to the Title VI: International Research and Studies Program, U.S. Department of Education, September.

Fry, G. W., Paige, R. M., et al. (2009). Study abroad and its transformative power.  Portland, Maine: Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE)).

Paige, R. M., Fry, G. W., et al. (2009). Study abroad for global engagement: The long term impact of mobility experiences.  Intercultural Education 20, Suppl. Nos. S1-2, June, S29-44.

Fry, G. W. (2009). The political economy of higher education reform in Vietnam. In Hirosato, Y. and Kitamura, Y. (Eds.), The political economy of educational reforms and capacity development in Southeast Asia: Cases of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. New York: Springer.

Fry, G. W. (2008). Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). New York: Chelsea House Publications.

Fry, G. W. (2008). Toward excellence in graduate education: A mixed methods and interdisciplinary Study. Nagoya Journal of Higher Education 8, 217-240.

Hendel, D., Horn, A., and Fry, G. W. (2007). Ranking the international dimensions of top research universities in the United States, Journal of Studies in International Education 11, 330-358.

Fry, G. W. (2007). The military coup of September. 2006: Weakening or strengthening of Thai democracy. Harvard International Review, Summer.

Fry, G. W. (Ed). (2007). Global perspectives on the United States: A nation by nation survey. Great Barrington, Ma.: Berkshire Reference Works.

Fry, G. W. and Pham, L. H. (2007). Children’s issues in Vietnam. In I. Epstein, I. and Pattnaik, J. (Eds). The Greenwood encyclopedia of children’s issues worldwide (pp. 535-558).  London: Greenwood Press, vol. 1.

Fry, G. W. (2006). Buddhism, cultural democracy, and multicultural education. In Farideh, S. and Hoosain, R. (Eds), Religion in multicultural education (pp. 101-119). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Fry, G. W. (2005). Thailand and its neighbors: Interdisciplinary perspectives. Bangkok: Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.

Fry, G. W., Makino, M., and Yamada, O. (2005). Education and entrepreneurship in the Asia-Pacific Region: Diverse perspectives and methods. Kawasaki, Japan: The Japan Entrepreneurs Association.

Fry, G. W. and Pham, L. H. (2004). Education and economic, political, and social change in Vietnam. Educational Research for Policy and Practice 3, 199-222.

Fry, G. W. (2004). Recovery through reform: Culture matters in the Thai turnaround. Harvard International Review 26, 3, 24-28.

Fry, G. W. and Pham, L. H. (2004). Universities in Vietnam: Legacies, challenges, and prospects. In Altbach, P. G. & Umakoshi, T. (Eds.), Asian universities: Historical perspectives and contemporary challenges (pp. 301-331). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Fry, G. W. (2002). Synthesis report: From crisis to opportunity, the challenges of educational reform in Thailand. Manila: Asian Development Bank and Bangkok: Office of the National Education Commission, Office of the Prime Minister.

Fry, G. W. (2002). Introduction: The power of economic understanding. In Pendergast, S. and T. (Eds.), Worldmark encyclopedia of national economies (pp. xv-xix). Detroit: Gale Group, Volume I.

Pham, L. H. and Fry, G. W. (2002). The emergence of private higher education in Vietnam: Challenges and opportunities. Educational Research for Policy and Practice 1, 1-2, 127-141.

Fry, G. W. (2002). Intercultural interactions among the Thai and Lao: Critical issues of identity and language. Tai Culture: International Review on Tai Cultural Studies 7, 1 (June), 26-48.

Fry, G. W. (Ed.), Southeast Asian section (2002). Encyclopedia of modern Asia. Great Barrington, Ma: Berkshire Reference Works; New York: J. Scribner, 6 volumes.

Tomita, T., Fry, G. W., and Seksin S. (2000). International cooperative learning: An innovative approach to intercultural service. Nagoya: Tokai Institute of Social Development for Asia and the Pacific and Aichi Mizuho College; Eugene, Oregon: Center for Asian and Pacific Studies.

Fry, G. W. (2000). Crisis as opportunity: Political, economic and educational reform in Thailand. In Hainsworth, G. B. (Ed.), Globalization and the Asian economic crisis: Indigenous responses, coping strategies, and governance reform in Southeast Asia (pp. 229-256). Vancouver, Canada: Centre for Southeast Asia Research, Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia.

Fry, G. W. (1998). The future of the Lao PDR: Relations with Thailand and alternative paths to internationalization. In Butler-Diaz, J. (Ed), New Laos, new challenges (pp. 147-179). Tempe, Arizona: Program for Southeast Asian Studies, Arizona State University.

Fry, G. W., and Kempner, K. (1996). A subnational paradigm for comparative research: Education and development in Northeast Brazil and Northeast Thailand. Comparative Education 32, 3, 333- 360, reprinted in Tierney, W. et al. (Eds.) (1998), Comparative education: ASHE reader series (pp. 384-408). New York: Simon & Schuster.

Fry, G. W., and Martin, G. (1991). The international development dictionary. Oxford: ABC-Clio.

Fry, G. W., Amrung C., and Supang C. (1990). Evaluating primary education: Qualitative and quantitative policy studies in Thailand. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre.

Fry, G. W. and Thurber, C. (1989). The international education of development consultants: Communicating with peasants and princes. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Fry, G. W., and Mauricio, R. (1987). Pacific Basin and Oceania. Oxford: Clio Press.

Fry, G. W., and Varaporn B. (1980). Vocational-technical education and the Thai labor market (1980). Paris: International Institute for Educational Planning.

Sippanondha K., Wichit S., Fry, G. W., et al. (1978). Systems of higher education: Thailand. New York: International Council for Educational Development.