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Adam R. Nelson is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Educational Policy Studies and History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his Ph.D. in History from Brown University. His publications include Education and Democracy: The Meaning of Alexander Meiklejohn, 1872-1964 (2001); The Elusive Ideal: Equal Educational Opportunity and the Federal Role in Boston’s Public Schools (2005); Education and the Culture of Print in Modern America, co-edited with John L. Rudolph (2010); and The Global University: Past, Present, and Future Perspectives, co-edited with Ian P. Wei (2012). He is currently writing a pair of books titled Capital of Mind: The Making of an American Knowledge Economy, 1730-1830 and Empire of Knowledge: Nationalism, Internationalism, and American Science, 1780-1830. His research has been funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities/American Antiquarian Society, the National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard, the Advanced Studies Fellowship Program at Brown, and the Vilas Associate Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He served as President of the History of Education Society and co-directs the annual University of Wisconsin-Peking University Workshop on Higher Education.
- Ph D History, Brown University, 1998
- MA History, Brown University, 1994
- BA History, St. Olaf College, 1993
- Nelson, A. R. (2017) "HES Presidential Address: Citizens or Cosmopolitans? Constructing Scientific Identity in the Early American College" History of Education Quarterly, 57(2), 184-259.
- Nelson, A. R., & Strohl, N. M. (2016) From Helping the Poor to Helping the Middle Class: The Convergence of Federal K-12 and Higher Education Funding Policy Since 1965 History and Policy: The Convergence of Federal K-12 and Higher Education Policy since 1965, 43-66. Harvard Education Press.
- Nelson, A. R., & Wei, I. P. (2012) The Global University: Past, Present, and Future Perspectives, 284. Bristol, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Nelson, A. R. (2012) Woodrow Wilson on Liberal Education for Statesmanship The Educational Legacy of Woodrow Wilson: From College to Nation, 49-73. University of Virginia Press.
- Nelson, A. R., & Rudolph, J. L. (2010) Education and the Culture of Print in Modern America, 233. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
- Nelson, A. R. (2007) Rodriguez, Keyes, Lau, and Milliken Revisited: The Supreme Court and the Meaning of ‘Equal Educational Opportunity,’ 1973-1974 To Educate a Nation: Federal and National Strategies of School Reform, 202-224. University Press of Kansas.
- Nelson, A. R. (2007) The Federal Role in American Education: An Historiographical Essay Rethinking the History of American Education, 261-280. Palgrave Macmillan.
- Nelson, A. R. (2005) The Elusive Ideal: Equal Educational Opportunity and the Federal Role in Boston’s Public Schools, 1950-1985, 352. University of Chicago Press.
- Nelson, A. R. (2005) "Nationalism, Transnationalism, and the American Scholar in the Nineteenth Century: Thoughts on the Career of William Dwight Whitney" The New England Quarterly, 78(3), 339-374.
- Nelson, A. R. (2001) Education and Democracy: The Meaning of Alexander Meiklejohn, 1872-1964, 416. University of Wisconsin Press.
- Nelson, A. R., Liberal Education: An Intercultural Dialogue Between China and the West, "The Invention of Liberal Education in America, c. 1910-1950" (2020), Beijing, China
- Nelson, A. R., Invited lecture, "Tariffs on Textbooks: American Scholars and the International Political Economy of Knowledge, 1816 - 1826" (2019), Tsinghua University (Beijing), Zheijiang University (Hangzhou), and South China Normal University (Guangzhou), China
- Nelson, A. R., Invited lecture, "Capital of Mind: The United States in a Global Knowledge Economy, c 1730-1830" (2018), St. John College, Oxford University, UK
- Nelson, A. R., Nineteenth Century U.S. History Workshop, "The Sciences Are Carried on Here as a Trade": American Students, German Universities, and the Emergence of a Modern Knowledge Economy, 1815-1825" (2018), Brown University, Providence, RI
- Nelson, A. R., Invited lecture, "Importing Ideas, c. 1789-1795" (2017), Stanford University, Stanford, CA
- Nelson, A. R., Invited lecture, "Science, Education, and Trade: New Directions in the History of Ideas" (2017), Peking University, Beijing, China
- Nelson, A. R., Invited lecture, "Wold War II, the Cold War, and the Military-Industrial-University Complex in the United States" (2017), Peking University, Beijing , China
- Nelson, A. R., Global Higher Education and Research Project, "Universities 2030: Learning form the Past to Anticipate the Future" (2014), Cape Town, South Africa
- Nelson, A. R., Invited lecture, "An Episode in Liberal Education: Alexander Meiklejohn and the Experimental College at the University of Wisconsin, 1927-1933" (2013), International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan
- Nelson, A. R., Osterwalder, K., Kontler, L., Bruch, R. v., Verger, J., Kintzinger, M., Pickstone, J., & Stobiecki, R., "History of Universities" series, "Empire of Knowledge: Nationalism, Internationalism, and the Origins of the American University, 1780-1830" (2013), University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Select Awards and Honors
- Guest Professorship, School of Education, Zhejiang University, CHINA, 2020
- Guest Professorship, Graduate School of Education, Peking University, CHINA, 2017
- Fellow, Academic Leadership Program (ALP), Big 10 Academic Alliance, (2018, 2019)
- Outstanding Faculty Recognition Award, First Wave/Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives, (2018, 2015)
- Fellow, Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, Harvard University, (2011, 2012)
- Long-Term Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts, (2008, 2009)
- Small Grant, Spencer Foundation, (2008, 2009)
- Vilas Associate, University of Wisconsin-Madison, (2007, 2009)
- Advanced Studies Fellowship, Spencer Foundation and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Brown University, (2002, 2005)
- Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, (2002, 2003)