Fall 2022

Politics of Education

Listed in: , as EDST-352  |  American Studies, as AMST-352  |  Anthropology and Sociology, as SOCI-352  |  History, as HIST-352


Kristen V. Luschen (Section 01)


(Offered as EDST 352, HIST 352 [US/TC/TR/TS], AMST 352 and SOCI 352) Focusing on the United States, this course introduces students to foundational questions and texts central to Education Studies. We will explore the competing goals and priorities Americans have held for primary, secondary and post-secondary education and ask how and why these visions have influenced—or failed to influence—classrooms, schools, and educational policy. We will pay particular attention to sources of educational stratification; the tensions between the public and private purposes of schooling; and the relationship between schooling and equality. 

In the first part of the course, students will reflect on how Americans have imagined the purpose of self-education, literacy, public schooling, and the liberal arts. Among the questions we will consider: What do Americans want from public schools? Does education promote liberation? Has a liberal arts education outlived its usefulness? How has the organization of schools and school systems promoted some educational objectives in lieu of others? In the second section of the course, we will concentrate on the politics of schooling. Here, we will pay particular attention to several issues central to understanding educational inequality and its relationship to American politics, culture, and society: localism; state and federal authority; desegregation; and the complicated relationship between schooling and racial, linguistic, class-based, gender, and ethnic hierarchies. Finally, we will explore how competing ideas about the purpose and politics of education manifest themselves in current policy debates about privatization, charters, testing, and school discipline. Throughout the course, students will reflect on both the limits and possibilities of American schools to challenge and reconfigure the social order.

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Luschen. 

How to handle overenrollment: Priority will go to students with a demonstrated interest in Education Studies, and then History and American Studies majors. Then we will prioritize sophomores, juniors, and first-year students, in that order.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on written work, readings, independent research, group work

EDST 352 - LEC

Section 01
W 1:30 PM - 4:15 PM SCCE E212

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
In Defense of a Liberal Education Norton Zakaria, Fareed Amherst Books TBD
Schooling Citizens U. Chicago Press Moss, Hilary Amherst Books TBD
A Chance for Change U. of North Carolina Sanders, Crystal Amherst Books TBD
Five Miles Away, a World Apart Oxford UP Ryan, James E. Amherst Books TBD
Despite the Best Intentions Oxford UP Lewis & Diamond Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2025