I teach a range of courses in modern American history, with a focus on public policy and political economy in the 20th and 21st centuries.  I am interested, in all my classes, in helping students make meaningful connections between historical patterns and current social and political and economic challenges.  Since 2016, I have participated in the University of Iowa's "Big Ideas" initiative, a set of interdisciplinary, team-taught, active-learning courses that meet general education requirements.  I also teach the History of American Inequality, an upper-level examination of the historical sources of wage, income, and wealth inequality in the United States.  Course descriptions and recent syllabi for these and other courses

Big Ideas: Equality, Opportunity, and Public Policy in America (HIST 1119; SOC 1119)

Equality, Opportunity and Public Policy in America is a “Big Ideas” class.  It is not an introductory course in History or Sociology, but an investigation—drawing on the insights of a number of disciplines—of a big problem, or idea, or question.  For us, that big question is this:  What does the government do, and why?   Government action ranges widely, from peacekeeping to parking meters, so in order to make that big question more manageable, we organize this course around a more closely focused pair of questions:  What does the government do to ensure economic security or well-being? What does the government do to create or ensure equality of opportunity? PDF icon Link to recent syllabus (Fall 2017)

History of American Inequality (HIST 3232)

“The History of American Inequality” is animated by our current concern with the problem of inequality (broadly defined) in the United States.  But it is more about the history of that problem; about how we got where we are today.  In this sense, the class will cover both the basic concepts and dimensions of inequality, and the development of inequalities over time.  The historical coverage ranges across the 20th century.  Our focus in this class is on the United States, but we will use international comparisons to set the American experience into a broader context. PDF icon Link to recent syllabus

The United States in a World at War (HIST 4264)

World War II was a major watershed in American history, not only for the obvious fact that it transformed the American role in the world but also for its impact on the "home front" as well; students focus on the latter in this course. Any sustained war effort has important political, social, cultural, and economic implications. It shifts the priorities of political life, recasts the economy around wartime needs, and scrambles the private lives of those at home and abroad. All of this was exaggerated in the case of American participation in World War II. The sheer scale of the war effort brought with it far more profound and lasting changes than the shorter and smaller mobilization of 1917-1919. And, perhaps most importantly, the war came in a time at which the basic direction of American politics, political economy, and political culture was "up for grabs." The Depression which had begun in 1929 still gripped the nation's economy, and the political response to the Depression--the New Deal--had transformed the role of the state in the economy, introduced the first hints of the modern welfare state, and changed the rules and expectations of labor relations. All of these changes were matters of fierce debate when the war came; in some respects, the war suspended this debate, but in other respects it resolved it by recasting the New Deal around the assumptions of full employment and increased government spending. As students trace this and other elements of the war experience, they touch on prewar patterns, the impact and importance of the war, and the postwar situation. PDF icon Link to recent syllabus

PDF icon hist-4264-exw-syllabus-spring_2018-1.pdf

Introduction to the History Major

This class is designed to introduce new history majors to the skills and methods of historical research and analysis.  It is a “workshop” course, in which much of our class time will be devoted to the actual practice of historical research—in the archives, in the library, at the computer.  Over the course of the semester, each student will work on a small research project related to Iowa history, utilizing archival sources available locally (in the State Historical Society of Iowa).  You will complete this project in stages, as detailed on the ICON/Canvas site under “assignments.”  At each stage of the research process, you will present your work-in-progress to the class for constructive criticism and suggestions.  Other class meetings will introduce students to the elements and tools of historical research.  PDF icon Link to recent syllabus