Charles Dorn

Professor of Education, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and Associate Affirmative Action Officer

Professor Dorn's research into the history of education investigates the civic functions adopted by and ascribed to centers of early childhood education, public elementary and secondary schools, and colleges and universities in the United States. In 2017, he published For the Common Good: A New History of Higher Education in the United States, a work that challenges the rhetoric of America’s so-called crisis in higher education by investigating two centuries of college and university history. From the community college to the elite research universityin states from California to MaineDorn engages a fundamental question confronted by higher education institutions ever since the nation’s founding: Do colleges and universities contribute to the common good? 

Most recently, Dorn published (with co-author Randall Curren) Patriotic Education in a Global Age. This volume asks whether schools should attempt to cultivate patriotism and, if so, with what conception of patriotism in mind? Dorn and Curren trace the aims and rationales that have guided the inculcation of patriotism in American schools over the years, the methods by which schools have sought to cultivate patriotism, and the conceptions of patriotism at work in those aims, rationales, and methods. They then examine what those conceptions mean for justice, education, and human flourishing. 

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  • Ph.D. , University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Education; Berkeley, CA, 2003
  • M.A. , Stanford University, Graduate School of Education; Stanford, CA, 1994
  • B.A. , The George Washington University; Washington, DC, 1990



Patriotic Education in a Global Age, with Randall Curren. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018.

For the Common Good: A New History of Higher Education in America.  Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2017.

American Education, Democracy, and the Second World War.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.


“Education for Citizenship… Is Too Important to Leave to Chance”: John Allen and the University of South Florida, 1956-1970.” Perspectives on the History of Higher Education, 32 (2017), 50-78.

“‘It Was a Sort of Soft War That One Waged’: Teacher Education at the University of Cape Town, 1976-1994.”  Southern African Review of Education, 19, no. 2 (2013), 48-71.

“The Cold War Politicization of Literacy: Communism, UNESCO and the World Bank,” with Kristen Ghodsee.  Diplomatic History, 36, no. 2 (2012), 373-398.

*Awarded History of Education Society Best Article Prize.

“Political Goals and Social Ideals: Dewey, Democracy, and the Emergence of the Turkish Republic,” with Doris Santoro.  Education and Culture, 27, no. 2 (2011), 3-27.

“From ‘Liberal Professions’ to ‘Lucrative Professions’: Bowdoin College, Stanford University, and the Civic Functions of Higher Education.”  Teachers College Record, 113, no. 7 (2011), 1566-1596.

“National Unity and National Discord: The Western Homefront during World War II,” with Connie Chiang.  Journal of the West, 49, no. 3 (2011), 41-60.

“‘War Conditions Made It Impossible…’: Historical Statistics and Women’s Higher Education Enrollments, 1940-1952.”  Studies in the Humanities, 36, no. 2 (2009), 108-115.


“The Nature and Nurture of Patriotic Virtue,” with Randall Curren.  In Tom Harrison and David Walkers, eds.  The Theory and Practice of Virtue Education.  Forthcoming: Routledge, 2017.

“A Modest Plea for Collaborative History and Philosophy of Education,” with Randall Curren.  In Antoinette Errante, Jackie Blount, and Bruce Kimball, eds. Philosophy and History of Education: Diverse Perspectives on Their Value and Relationship.  New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017.

“‘A Vital, Free, Independent and Lay Republic’: John Dewey and the Role of Education in Establishing the Turkish State,” with Doris Santoro.  In Richard Garlitz and Lisa Jarvinen, eds. Teaching America to the World and the World to America: Education and Foreign Relations since 1870.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

“‘The Appeal to the German Mind’: Educational Reconstruction in the American Zone of Occupation, 1944-1948,” with Brian Puaca.  In Noah Sobe, ed.  American Post-Conflict Educational Reconstruction from the Spanish-American War to Iraq.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.


“The New Math: A Political History.” History of Education Quarterly, 56, no. 1 (2016): 197-200.

“The History of American Higher Education: Learning and Culture from the Founding to World War II.” The Journal of American History, 102, no. 3 (2015): 847.

“Creating the College Man: American Mass Magazines and Middle-Class Manhood, 1890-1915.” Teachers College Record, January 3, 2011:

“War Memory, Nationalism and Education in Postwar Japan, 1945-2007.”  History of Education Quarterly, 50, no. 1 (2010): 104-108.

“Innocents Abroad: American Teachers in the American Century.”  History of Education Quarterly, 47, no. 4 (2007): 539-543.


"How a Socialist Ended Up Writing the Pledge of Allegiance," Fortune Magazine, Commentary. September 8, 2017:

"What is College Good For?" The Chronicle of Higher Education, Commentary, August 1, 2017:

"For the Common Good," Inside Higher Ed, June 2017:             

Recent Presentations

“‘To Be the Premier Deliverer of Workforce Training': The Transformation of the Junior College following World War II.” Paper presented at the History of Education Society annual meeting as part of the symposium, “Rediscovering American Higher Education: The Forties, Fifties, and Sixties.” November 3-6, 2016.  Providence, RI.

“Higher Education and the Common Good.” University of New England (Portland Campus), January 25, 2016. Portland, Maine.

“Higher Education and the Common Good.” University of New England (Tangier Campus), November 30, 2015. Tangier, Morocco.

“Education from the Margins: The YWCA as a Site for Non-Traditional Women’s Education in the Early Twentieth Century.”  Chair and discussant for panel of papers presented at the History of Education Society annual meeting. November 5-8, 2015. St. Louis, MO.

“‘The Situation Wasn’t Normal’: The University of Cape Town’s Department of Education, 1976-1994.” University of Cape Town. June 11, 2013. Cape Town, South Africa.

Awards, Grants, Fellowships, & Invited Seminars

Faculty Research Award. Bowdoin College Faculty Development Committee, 2003-2004, 2008-2009, 2015-2016.

Physics Teacher Education Coalition, Secondary School Pre-Service Teacher Recruitment Grant, 2014-2015.

U.S. State Department Fulbright Scholar Research/Teaching Award, University of Cape Town, South Africa, 2012-2013.

History of Education Society Best Article Prize, 2012.

Bowdoin Faculty Research Fellowship (to support sabbatic leave), 2012-2013 (declined).

Spencer Foundation Grant, “Seeking the Common Good: Public Service and Higher Education in America,” 2011-2012.

Maine Campus Compact’s Donald Harward Faculty Award for Service-Learning Excellence, 2011.

Fletcher Family Research Grant.  Bowdoin College Faculty Resources Committee, 2003-2004, 2005-2007, 2006-2008, 2009-2010, 2010-2011.