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James Fraser

Interim Vice Dean for Academic Affairs; Professor of History and Education, Department of Applied Statistics, Social Science, and Humanities

Applied Statistics, Social Science, and Humanities


James W. Fraser, Professor of History and Education at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University, holds a joint appointment in the department of Applied Statistics, Social Science, and Humanities and the department of Teaching and Learning and also an affiliate appointment in the Department of History in the Faculty of Arts & Science. Fraser’s teaching and research is motivated by his concern with the challenges facing future Social Studies and History teachers who must find ways of engaging sometimes bored students with American and world history and his interest in the role of religion in American education. His most recent book is the fourth edition of The School in the United States: A Documentary History (Routledge, 2019). He has also recently published, By the People: A History of the United States (Pearson, 2019) which is designed to help make high school US History courses more lively, with a focus on the agency of everyday Americans of many different communities, times, and places. Fraser and Lauren Lefty have published Teaching Teachers: Changing Paths and Enduring Debates (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018), a history of the last four decades of debates about teacher education in the United States. Fraser’s work also reflects his concern with complex debates about the place of religion in public schools, especially in the United States, but also internationally. He has written Between Church and State: Religion and Public Education in a Multicultural America(second edition, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016). Fraser was the president of the History of Education Society for 2013-2014. He has served on the Editorial Board of the History of Education Quarterly, and Religion and Education and as the NYU liaison to New Design High School, a public high school in New York’s Lower East Side, and to Facing History and Ourselves. Since 2015 he has been chair of the department of Applied Statistics, Social Science, and Humanities at NYU Steinhardt.

From 2008 to 2012, Fraser was the Senior Vice President for Programs at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey, where he coordinated the different Fellowship programs and led the launch of the Foundation’s Fellowships for Teachers. Now back to full-time teaching at NYU, he remains a senior advisor to the Foundation and chair of the advisory committee for the foundation's Academy. Fraser was the founding dean of Northeastern University’s School of Education, serving from 1999 to 2004. He was a member and chair of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Education Deans Council, the Boston School Committee Nominating Committee, and other boards. He was also a lecturer in the Program in Religion and Secondary Education at the Harvard University Divinity School from 1997 to 2004. He has taught at Lesley University, the University of Massachusetts, Boston, Boston University, and Public School 76, Manhattan. He is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and was pastor of Grace Church in East Boston, Massachusetts, from 1986 to 2006 and is now a member of Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village, New York.

Fraser has four adult children and six grandchildren. He and his wife, Katherine Hanson, and their dog Pebble live in New York City.

Selected Publications

TEACH:  A Question of Teaching, second edition, New York:  Routledge, 2015 (first edition, New York:  McGraw-Hill, 2010).

 Preparing America’s Teachers:  A History, New York:  Teachers College Press, 2007.

 A History of Hope:  When Americans Have Dared to Dream of a Better Future, New York:  Palgrave-Macmillan, 2002.

Reading, Writing, and Justice:  School Reform As If Democracy Matters, Albany, New York:  The State University of New York Press, 1997.

Mentoring the Mentor:  A Critical Dialogue with Paulo Freire, edited with Paulo Freire, Donaldo Macedo, Tanya McKinnon, and William Stokes, New York:  Peter Lang Publishing, 1997.