Professor of Education
Joined Connecticut College: 1990
B.A., California State University, L.A.; M.A., California State University, L.A.; Ph.D., Claremont Graduate School
History of schooling and civil rights
Michael James joined the faculty in 1990. Before coming to Connecticut College, James taught at California State University, Los Angeles.
He teaches courses in the Foundations of Education, Critical Math and Science Education, and seminars in Critical Pedagogy as well as Education and The Revolutionary Project in Latin America.
Trained as a historian of education, James's initial work was in the history and philosophy of schooling, especially as it connects to the twentieth century and the civil rights movement. His most recent book, The Conspiracy of the Good: Civil Rights and the Struggle for Community in Two American Cities, 1875-2000 is principally about the educational policy and practice that has marked the phenomenal expansion of the American school since the Civil War. He understands the history of schooling within the larger context of class, race, and gender inequalities, capitalist development and political economy. In The Conspiracy of the Good, James extends his earlier work found in Social Reconstruction Through Education: The History, Philosophy and Curricula of a Radical Ideal.
James' research interests continue to diversify. He is currently working on projects exploring the impact of neoliberalism and education in Latin America, specifically in southern México and Cuba. Since 2009, he has traveled with his students to examine social movements in Oaxaca and to Chiapas to learn about the Zapatista and other indigenous autonomous communities. James has been instrumental in establishing the College’s first SATA program to Cuba, where in 2013 he will lead a group of students to study and work in Havana.
James situates his pedagogy within a theoretical paradigm that is materialist and democratic. He believes the study of schooling and education necessitates understanding the construction of power, not just within capitalist relations, but as an alternative to those arrangements.
Visit the education department website.
"Until we address the inequality of opportunity, a national curriculum with its common standards will tell us nothing more than we already know... Until then, the talk is diversionary and divisive." - Michael E. James
Review of The Conspiracy of the Good
"We are forever misremembering history, either through outright distortion or more commonly through simple neglect. Michael James adds a brilliant new dimension to our understanding of race, power and schooling across the so-called American century." - Jon Zimmerman, Professor of History and Education, Steinhardt School of Education, New York University