The University of Wisconsin Press

Biography / Education / American History / Philosophy

Education and Democracy
The Meaning of Alexander Meiklejohn, 1872–1964
Adam R. Nelson

"Intellectual biography at its best. Nelson has presented us with the whole Meiklejohn, warts and all."
—E. David Cronon, coauthor of The University of Wisconsin: A History

This definitive biography of the charismatic Alexander Meiklejohn tracks his turbulent career as an educational innovator at Brown University, Amherst College, and the University of Wisconsin’s “Experimental College” in the early twentieth century and his later work as a civil libertarian in the Joe McCarthy era. The central question Meiklejohn asked throughout his life’s work remains essential today: How can education teach citizens to be free?

“Meiklejohn . . . experimented throughout his life with teaching curriculum and institutional organization in an effort to create educational programs that inspired people to create democratic societies. . . . Nelson has done a great service to Meiklejohn’s memory by capturing student voices and allowing them to evoke Meiklejohn at his best—as a teacher and scholar of ethics and democracy.” —Mary Ann Dzuback, Journal of American History

Adam R. Nelson is associate professor of educational policy studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is author of The Elusive Ideal: Equal Educational Opportunity and the Federal Role in Boston’s Public Schools, 1950–1985.

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Blurb from the 2001 UW Press hardcover edition:

"A splendid piece of work. It is a fascinating character study of an extraordinary figure in American intellectual and educational history. Nelson presents a very balanced portrait of the man, his strengths and weaknesses." —Charles W. Anderson, author of Prescribing the Life of the Mind

cover image of Education and Democracy by Adam R. Nelson, featuring an old photo of Meiklejohn at his desk.

March 2009

LC: 00-001197 LB
440 pp.   6 x 9  
32 b/w photos

Paper $29.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-17144-5 
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(Cloth edition, ISBN 978-0-299-17140-7, is out of print)


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Updated March 8, 2010

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