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Learning Differences and the Future of Special Education

The Promise of Every Child

The Initiative on Learning Differences and the Future of Special Education is an interdisciplinary research, training, and policy effort focused on improving the lives of millions of children worldwide with diverse learning needs.

The Initiative leverages the great expertise of Stanford faculty and partners to uncover and address the many factors that intersect in learning differences and systems of support. It educates a new generation of researchers to advance our knowledge about the sources of and attitudes toward disabilities. It drives innovation to improve methods of early identification of learning differences and create new supports to help all learners achieve their potential and participate fully in society.

Seizing New Opportunities

Recent advances in brain and learning sciences, learning technologies, data collection and analysis, and our understanding of how sociocultural factors influence learning are creating opportunities to design better educational approaches for all learners.

Stanford can accelerate the pace of discovery and innovation through collaboration across fields that are traditionally siloed in special education. We are bringing together experts in education, sociology, linguistics, policy, engineering, business, medicine, neuroscience and psychology to create a distinct hub of talent and creativity. Through these networks, our scholars help build school capacity to better serve students and families, translate research findings into effective and impactful curriculum, inspire measurable adoption and expansion of inclusive pedagogies, and advance our knowledge of how people learn and the best ways to teach.

Children with learning differences are often marked by stigma. Special education research is often siloed. Our focus is on inclusion, collaboration, and expanding opportunities for all.
The Way Forward

The Initiative on Learning Differences and the Future of Special Education drives change through research, education, policy engagement, and outreach.

Advancing Discovery

We foster creative, ambitious, and transformative research across disciplines that expands our understanding of human capacities and governing systems.

Developing Inclusive Education Leaders

We are developing new professional, graduate and credential programs that will set a global standard for the preparation of teachers and other leaders in education.

Learn more about our new LSIE doctoral training program →

Bridging Research, Policy, & Practice

We create and disseminate new teaching strategies, research paradigms, inclusion methods, and policy recommendations as well as develop tools for personalized learning.


Scholars affiliated with the Initiative are among the top in their fields and span the University.

Research Stories

Discoveries made at Stanford inform teaching practices, generate new ideas and innovation, evaluate policies and change lives.

Learn more about the GSE Vision for the future

Grand Challenges

We have identified nine grand challenges in education where Stanford can drive transformative breakthroughs.

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Discover. Innovate. Drive Change.

To answer educations's grand challenges, we must discover new knowledge, innovate new ideas and put those ideas to work in the world.

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Strategic Initiatives

New programs, research areas and spaces will help us accelerate progress on education’s grand challenges.

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