Daniel A. Wagner

Professor, UNESCO Chair in Learning and Literacy
Director, International Literacy Institute and National Center on Adult Literacy
Director, International Educational Development Program


Dr. Dan Wagner is the UNESCO Chair in Learning and Literacy, and Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the International Literacy Institute, co-founded by UNESCO and the University of Pennsylvania (www.literacy.org), and Director of Penn’s International Educational Development Program (IEDP) in graduate study. After an undergraduate degree in Engineering at Cornell University, and voluntary service in the Peace Corps (Morocco), he received his Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Michigan, was a two-year postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, a Visiting Fellow (twice) at the International Institute of Education Planning in Paris, a Visiting Professor at the University of Geneva (Switzerland), and a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Paris.

Dr. Wagner has extensive experience in national and international educational issues, and has served as an advisor to UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank, USAID, DFID, and others on international development issues. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Anthropological Association, and the American Educational Research Association. His most recent multi-year projects have been in India, South Africa, and Morocco. He recently served as Chair of the Brookings Global Research Task Force on Learning. In addition to more than 140 professional publications, Dr. Wagner has written/edited over 20 books.

B.S. Cornell University (1968)

M.A. University of Michigan (1971)

Ph.D. University of Michigan (1976)

  • Learning as development: Rethinking International education in a changing world. New York. NY: Routledge (2018).
  • Learning and education in developing countries: Research and policy for the post-2015 UN development goals. Des évaluations simples, rapides et abordables : Améliorer l’apprentissage dans les pays en développement. Paris, France : UNESCO-IIEP (2015), New York NY: Palgrave Macmillan (2015).     

  • Mobiles for reading: A landscape resarch review. Washington, DC: USAID (2014).
  • 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
  • Wagner, D. A. (2011). Smaller, Quicker, Cheaper: Improving Learning Assessments in Developing Countries. Paris/Washington: UNESCO-IIEP/FTI-Global Partnership for Education.
  • Wagner, D. A.: Quality of education, comparability, and assessment choice in developing countries. COMPARE: A Journal of Comparative and International Education 40(6): 741-760, 2010.

Dr. Wagner’s research interests include literacy across the lifespan (children, youth, adults), comparative studies of basic education and literacy, education in developing countries, and appropriate uses of educational technologies. His current international projects have been in India, South Africa, and Morocco. Most recently, he has completed a major review in the area of learning indicators for use in understanding the quality of education in the developing world.