Jonathan Zimmerman is one of the foremost education historians working today. His work examines how education practices and policies have developed over time, and the myths that often cloud our understanding of teaching and learning. He has a particular interest in how political and social movements come to shape education. A former Peace Corps volunteer and high school teacher, Zimmerman has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Review of Books, and The Atlantic.
A former Peace Corps volunteer and public school social studies teacher, Dr. Zimmerman holds a Ph.D. in history from the Johns Hopkins University. His scholarship has focused broadly on the ways that different peoples have imagined and debated education across time and space. He has authored books about sex and alcohol education, history and religion in the curriculum, Americans who taught overseas, and historical memory in public schooling. His most recent work examines campus politics in the United States, the teaching of controversial issues in public schools, and the history of college teaching.
Zimmerman’s academic work has appeared in the Journal of American History, the Teachers College Record, and History of Education Quarterly. He is also a frequent contributor to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New York Review of Books, and other popular newspapers and magazines. He came to Penn GSE after 20 years at New York University, where he served as chair of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences in NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Zimmerman received NYU’s Distinguished Teaching Award, its highest recognition for teaching. His former Ph.D. students have held positions at Carleton College, George Mason University, Brown University, and many other institutions.
Zimmerman has received book and article prizes from the American Educational Research Association, the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era, and the History of Education Society, where he served as president in 2009–2010. He is co-editor of the Histories of American Education book series at Cornell University Press and also of the History and Philosophy of Education series at the University of Chicago Press. He has received several research awards from the Spencer Foundation, which also supported a kickoff conference for his University of Chicago book series.