Jonathan Zimmerman, PhD

Professor of History of Education, University of Pennsylvania

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.

Dr. Zimmerman recently completed The Amateur Hour: A History of College Teaching in America, which will be published by Johns Hopkins University Press in October 2020. Drawing upon student evaluations and other unpublished manuscript materials in dozens of university archives, the book will provide our first in-depth examination of how undergraduate teaching practices in the United States took root and changed over time. His is also the author of Free Speech, and Why You Should Give a Damn(City of Light Press, February 2021), which will feature drawings by the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Signe Wilkinson. Dr. Zimmerman is currently researching a book about how American schools and universities have experienced and addressed health epidemics over the past two centuries.