A People’s History of American Higher Education: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

A People’s History of American Higher Education

1st Edition

By Philo A. Hutcheson


206 pages

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Paperback: 9780415894708
pub: 2018-07-13
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This essential history of American higher education brings a fresh perspective to the field, challenging the accepted ways of thinking historically about colleges and universities. Organized thematically, this book builds from the ground up, shedding light on the full, diverse range of institutions—including small liberal arts schools, junior and community colleges, black and white women’s colleges, black colleges, and state colleges—that have been instrumental in creating the higher education system we know today. A People’s History of American Higher Education focuses on those participants who may not have been members of elite groups, yet who helped push elite institutions and the country as a whole. This pathbreaking textbook addresses key issues which have often been condemned to exceptions and footnotes—if not ignored completely—in historical considerations of U.S. higher education; particularly race, ethnicity, gender, and class.

Hutcheson introduces readers to both social and intellectual history, providing invaluable perspectives and methodologies for graduate students and faculty members alike. A People’s History of American Higher Education surveys the varied characteristics of the diverse populations constituting or striving for the middle class through educational attainment, providing a narrative that unites often divergent historical fields. The author engages readers in a powerful, revised understanding of what institutions and participants beyond the oft-cited elite groups have done for American higher education.


Philo Hutcheson does not offer yet another account of higher education in the U.S. that focuses primarily on elite institutions, leaders, and students in which stories about their diversity are sprinkled like a final pinch of seasoning. Instead, in A People's History of American Higher Education, he radically reconceives this history by centering his attention on a beautifully diverse range of historical players and revealing their fundamental importance. I am eager to bring Hutcheson's thematically-driven, compelling, and witty account to the students in my history of higher education classes.

-Jackie Blount, Professor, Department of Educational Studies, The Ohio State University

Table of Contents

1. "Introduction: History as Inquiry." 2. "From the Beginning: Citizenship and Leadership, Exclusion and Stratification in the Colonizing Colleges and the Early Republic." 3. "A Century of Destiny Built on Developing Traditions: Higher Education Expands." 4. "The Progressive Era and Its Enduring Impact on Higher Education: Efficient, Rational Solutions to Moral and Social Problems." 5. "War: Meanings of Patriotism in Higher Education." 6. "Sex and Love! Beer! Football! And Other Important Student Activities." 7. "The Research University, Revised." 8. "From the Colonial Colleges to the Colleges and Universities of Today: Processes of Exclusion and Social Stratification." 9. "An Epilogue on This History of United States Higher Education: Historical Dimensions of Meritocracy"

About the Author

Philo A. Hutcheson is Professor of Higher Education at the University of Alabama.

About the Series

Core Concepts in Higher Education

Core Concepts in Higher Education is a textbook series for the education of new professionals, covering the core areas of study in the field of higher education and student affairs. This timely and dependable series provides the necessary tools to ensure practice is informed by theory and research. The books in this series invite students to think critically about the field to discover what has been left out and what needs to be learned, and also provides frameworks and constructs for addressing challenges facing higher education. The Core Concepts in Higher Education series moves thought, action, and scholarship forward by valuing, reconstructing, and building on the foundations of the field. Through a rich combination of research, theory, and practice, this series aims to move the field into a new generation of scholarship to better prepare students for authentic leadership of our colleges, universities, and academic communities.

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