Norwich University Professor Researching Evolution of American Education System Earns Several Prizes


March 5, 2018

Norwich University Assistant Professor of History and Political Science Mark Boonshoft has been awarded three prizes for his research on the evolution of the American education system.

Boonshoft earned the Board of Fellows Faculty Development Prize for the 2018-2019 academic year for his project, ““The Rise and Fall of ‘Monarchical’ Education and the Making of the American Republic.”

The $8,000 award will support Boonshoft’s work to finish the writing and revision of a book manuscript that analyzes a transformation in American education during the 1810s-1820s, traces the emergence of republican self-government in America, and, in turn, explains why future generations of Americans would demand access to schooling in order to lay claim to the rights of citizens.

Boonshoft was also named a 2018-19 fellow for the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. The $10,000 award will fund three months of residency at Mount Vernon, during which time Boonshoft will research partisan debates over education in the first decades after American independence.

In addition, Boonshoft recently was awarded a $1,500 grant from the American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati to research the archives of the Society of the Cincinnati, which was founded in 1783 by former officers from the Continental Army. He aims to uncover why, in the years after independence, the organization invested in schools, especially elite secondary schools called academies, research critical to his book project.

Boonshoft explains: “Neither the American Revolution nor the Constitution resolved the two central dilemmas of transitioning from monarchical to republican governance: how to transform subjects into citizens who can rule themselves, and how to determine who should wield power in a society premised on equality. This project argues that founding-era Americans solved these dilemmas through education.”

In researching the history of the American system of education, Norwich University founder Captain Alden Partridge features prominently. Boonshoft writes: “Alden Partridge revolutionized military and civic education in this period when he founded the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy, which later became Norwich University. In the brief justifying his new ‘system’ of education, Partridge decried the ‘anti-republican and monastic’ sort of schooling that dominated the United States.”

Boonshoft’s expertise focuses on the American Revolution and the American founding as well as the history of American education. He served as a post-doctoral fellow at the New York Public Library as the historian on the Early American Manuscripts Project.

About Norwich University˜

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) 

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