Professor of Education and Sociology at Pennsylvania State University, David Baker has published widely about how education as a robust social institution transforms society. The intellectual narrative of this project underscores global processes, both historical and contemporary, and is supported by interdisciplinary research including, for example, analyses of education and the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa, and the relationship between higher education and science production over the 20th century. Baker's scholarship, which uses a range of comparative methodologies, argues that the ubiquitous growth of formal education, from early childhood to graduate study, has transformed our world into a schooled society—a wholly new type of society where cultural dimensions of education reach into, and change, nearly every facet of human life. In addition, Baker has undertaken policy analysis in many regions of the world--most recently in the Andean region of Peru and in sub-Saharan Africa. He has consulted on education issues with national governments, and undertaken educational policy analysis for multilateral agencies such as UNESCO, OECD, and the World Bank.
He has worked to expand the use of comparative data in education policy-making worldwide, through an AERA Senior Fellowship and the establishment of the international division of NCES in the U.S. Department of Education. Recently, he served as senior author of OECD's report Green at Fifteen? Environmental and Geoscience Literacy among 15-year old in PSIA 2006 (OECD). He has been a U.S. senior Fulbright Fellow at Max-Planck Institute for Human Development in Germany, and a Fulbright New Century Scholar.