History and Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College
Columbia University

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"A modern school of education ought to look at education comprehensively, and this means considering the educative process across the entire life span, in all the situations and institutions in which it occurs, in a wide variety of social and cultural contexts, and in the past as well as the present and alternative imagined futures." --Lawrence Cremin, Public Education, 1976



The Program in History and Education is one of the oldest at Teachers College, the history of education having been one of the first components of the university study of education. Many of the earliest doctoral dissertations at Teachers College dealt with historical subjects, even in the case of students aspiring to careers in curriculum, guidance, and administration. 

The Program prepares people to teach in graduate schools of education, undergraduate departments of education, departments of history, theological seminaries, or other academic institutions, and to work as research scholars in institutes, government bureaus, or social service agencies where a deep understanding of education in historical perspective is essential. 

The Program addresses important educational questions, first, by examining the ideas, individuals, and institutions of the past to determine their influence on their own times; and, second, by bringing historical knowledge and perspective to bear on current educational issues. The Program offers courses covering the educational history of America, urban areas, women, immigrants, and African-Americans. 

The Program is open to students of broad and diverse backgrounds who can give evidence of academic competence and personal qualities suggesting high probability of professional success. Each student in the Program is expected to take courses in the history of education, as well as in the more generalized fields of social, political, and cultural history. Students can also take subject matter courses in cognate areas aimed at complementing and supporting their specialized areas of interest within the history of education. In addition, most students engage in continuous independent research under the supervision of a faculty member. 

Students in the Program are encouraged, with their advisor's guidance, to make full use of resources offered by other Programs at Teachers College, Columbia University, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and Union Theological Seminary.

Note: If you are interested in becoming a certified public school teacher, please see the Program in Teaching of Social Studies in this department. The Program in History and Education does not lead to public school certification.

Educating Harlem

In collaboration with the Institute for Urban and Minority Education and the Center on History and Education, the Program in History and Education seeks to establish a scholarly community focused on investigating the history of education, broadly defined, in 20th century Harlem. All of the forces that shaped education in the 20th century U.S. ran through Harlem, often in amplified form because of the particular confluence of people, ideas, and institutions in this community. Nonetheless, Harlem remains understudied in the history of education. 

By investigating the historical forms and meanings of education -- in schools and beyond -- in Harlem, we hope to support and provoke a rich vision of the place of education in communities and the reciprocal relationships between communities and schools. We will help explain why and how education has taken the forms that it has, by considering the roles of communities, students, teachers, policy makers, local and national leaders, and political and economic trends in shaping learning and schooling in local context.

More information on Educating Harlem 2013 Lecture Series, Conference, and More.


  • History and Education Announces Spring 2014 Course Lineup

    Monday, December 16, 2013
    The History and Education program is pleased to announce a robust set of course offerings for Spring 2014: A&HH 4060 The History of Education in New York City Professor Weneck Tuesday 5:10-6:50pm The course examines the history of education in New [...]
  • Burying the Image of “the Wounded Negro”

    Friday, November 22, 2013
    Originally Published in Teachers College Research/Publications 11/19/2013 Edmund Gordon [right] with Ernest Morrell, his successor as IUME Director. Photo Credit: Heather Van Uxem Lewis Puncturing the stereotype of “the wounded Negro” was the focus of [...]
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  • Student Profile: Jennifer Ammenti

    Monday, April 13, 2015
    Although it was hard to leave the classroom after teaching for 10 years in her native home of California, Jennifer Ammenti feels that she made the right choice to come to Teachers College. Ammenti, who will graduate this spring with an Ed.M. in History [...]
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