I teach courses in History, American Conversations, and American Studies, including classes on cities, work, politics, and social change. Recent courses include: a seminar of the 1920s and 1930s that focuses on inequality and social conflict; and a seminar on conservatism in the modern United States. Many courses that I teach incorporate an academic civic engagement (ACE) project, an opportunity to bring together academic and community-based work. The American Conversations 201 students worked recently with the Mapping Prejudice project, an initiative to document how restrictive covenants on property solidified racial divisions in Minneapolis. I also was the faculty mentor for the college’s first group of Posse scholars.
In my research and writing I concentrate on twentieth-century U.S. working-class history, with an interest in urban political culture. My first book is Contesting the Postwar City: Working-Class and Growth Politics in 1940s Milwaukee (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013). Along with essays and articles on cities, urban policy, class, and contingent academic labor, I contributed chapters to Labor’s Cold War: Local Politics in a Global Context, ed. Shelton Stromquist (2008) and Perspectives on Milwaukee’s Past, eds. Margo Anderson and Victor Greene (2009). I also recently co-edited, with Dennis Deslippe and John McKerley, a collection of essays, Civic Labors: Scholar Activism and Working-Class Studies(University of Illinois Press, 2016).I now am working on a book titled Losing Hope: Workers’ Public Disengagement in Post-World War II Metropolitan America.
Before returning to graduate school to complete a Ph.D. in history, I earned an M.A. in public policy and worked for over a decade as a community organizer. In addition to almost twenty years at St. Olaf, I taught at the University of Iowa, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Oslo (as a Fulbright Scholar). My wife Carolyn, who is Carleton College’s chaplain, and I have two children. Anna teaches elementary school in Colorado and Jacob is an officer in the Marines.