Textbook Controversies

February 8, 2008

This workshop, free and open to the public, was sponsored by the ISS Contentious Knowledge Research Team. 

Public controversies over textbooks, curricular reform, and school policies highlight the domain of education as an important arena of civil engagement. Education has produced contentious politics over the value of what kinds of knowledge should be taught, to whom, and for what purposes. Education in the social sciences, such as history and politics, have provoked important debates about whether education is intended to integrate students, encouraging them to conform to particular community or national standards, or whether education is intended to provide students with an ability to be critical of their larger societies.

These vociferous debates have pitted concerned parents, educators, legislators, and state-appointed officials against one another, with each constituency mobilizing particular groups and interests. This workshop focused on episodes of political jockeying over what constitutes appropriate knowledge for public education, particularly for school-age children. The papers will consider how knowledge becomes contentious through these disputes, whose interests are served, and how public education might best promote and critique civil society.


Ericka Albaugh, Political Science, Duke University
Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur, Sociology, Hamilton College
Julian Dierkes, Sociology, University of British Columbia
Adam Shapiro, History, University of British Columbia
Gerald Skoog, Education, Texas Tech University
Tracy Steffes, Education, Brown University

Organizing Committee

Durba Ghosh, Department of History
Ron Herring, Department of Government
Ken Roberts, Department of Government
Anneliese Truame & Judi Eastburn, ISS Administrative Staff


For More Information Contact: socialsciences@cornell.edu