Cold War Debates about Citizenship Education for College Students

CMEI Colloquium
Gutman Library, Harvard Graduate School of Education
January 27, 2011

Following the end of World War II, a number of academic leaders and influential commissions argued that the central purpose of general education in colleges and universities should be the education of democratic citizens. While there was consensus about this goal, educators split over the best model of citizenship education, one group favoring the examination of contemporary political questions and the other advocating the study of classic texts and history.  This talk will examine how the politics of the Cold War was interjected into this debate, serving to discredit the proponents of the contemporary model.

Speaker BiographyJulie Reuben is a historian interested in the intersection between American thought and culture and educational institutions and practice. Her book, Making of the Modern University (1996), examines the relation between changing conceptions of knowledge, standards of scholarship, and the position of religion and morality in the American university during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She has published articles on the history of academic freedom, affirmative action, student activism and the history of civics in public schools. She is currently researching changing forms of political education mid-twentieth century American universities.