Walter Stern

Assistant Professor

(504) 655-3234

203 Education Building

1000 Bascom Mall

Madison, WI 53706

Stern, Walter

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Walter C. Stern is Assistant Professor of Educational Policy Studies and History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is the author of Race and Education in New Orleans: Creating the Segregated City, 1764-1960, which received the 2018 William Prize for the best book on Louisiana history. His teaching and research focus on the historical intersection of race and education in the nineteenth- and twentieth century US, with an emphasis on metropolitan areas and the US South. Much of his work considers how state actions pertaining to education, housing, and criminal justice historically structured opportunity and inequality and gave material meaning to the concept of race. He is currently working on a book about school desegregation and the making of mass incarceration.


  • PhD History, Tulane University, 2014
  • MA History, Tulane University, 2010
  • BA American Studies, Yale University, 2001

Select Publications

  • Stern, W., (2019). Why Desegregation Matters: Educational Inequality and the Pursuit of Democracy. Journal of Urban History
  • Stern, W., (2019). Historian: New Orleans’ swap of school building for field can't offset decades of racial discrimination. New Orleans Advocate Online Publication/Abstract.
  • Stern, W., (2018). Race and Education in New Orleans: Creating the Segregated City, 1764- 1960. In Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press.
  • Stern, W., (2018). Long before Ruby’s Walk: New Orleans Schools, Race, and Thinking beyond Backlash. Journal of African American History, 103(4), 526-559. Online Publication/Abstract.
  • Stern, W., (2018). Guest column: Let those who have served time vote. New Orleans Advocate Online Publication/Abstract.
  • Stern, W., (2018). Brief of Historians as Amici Curiae in Support of Plaintiffs-Appellants. Voice of the Ex-Offender (VOTE) v. Louisiana Louisiana: No. 2017-CA-1141 (First Circuit, Court of Appeal) Online Publication/Abstract.

Select Presentations

  • Stern, W. (2017, November). School Desegregation’s Forgotten History of School Violence. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the History of Education Society, Little Rock, Ark.
  • Stern, W. (2017, September). Beyond Backlash: The 150-Year Battle Over Schools, Race, and the Future of New Orleans. Paper presented at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Stern, W. (2016, October). An Educational Soweto: Public Schools, Low-Income Housing, and the Making of the Second Ghetto. Paper presented at the Biennial Urban History Association Conference, Chicago, IL.

Select Awards and Honors

  • Dianne Woest Fellowship in the Arts and Humanities, Historic New Orleans Collection, 2019
  • Monroe Fellowship, New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, Tulane University, 2019
  • National Academy of Education/Spencer Post-doctoral Fellowship, National Academy of Education, (2018, 2019)
  • The Kemper and Leila Williams Prize in Louisiana History, for Race and Education in New Orleans, Best Book on Louisiana History, Louisiana Historical Association and Historic New Orleans Collection, 2018
  • Claude A. Eggertsen Dissertation Prize, History of Education Society, 2015