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Name: Graham Ashurst

PhD: American Studies

Thesis Title: 

A Contrarian in Search of Tradition: Post-War American  Education and the Career of Diane Ravitch


Thesis Description:

My PhD thesis will analyse the career of Diane Ravitch (born 1938), rated by Education Week in 2015 as the scholar contributing most substantially to public debates about education in the US. Since the 1960s, Ravitch has influenced American educational policy as an historian and writer, commentator and adviser, and – more briefly - as a government official, but there is currently no comprehensive study of her career. My thesis will use the medium of her career to explore the influence on American school education of ethnicity and multiculturalism, debates about school standards, educational think tanks, and (more generally) political ideologies, particularly neoconservatism and neoliberalism. It will consider the emergence of the educational ‘reform agenda’, based on measurement, accountability and privitisation, and the subsequent growth of opposition to the ‘reform agenda’.


My research will assess Ravitch’s influence on American school education, considering how her career and ideas have developed in the light of the various ideological movements over the last 50 years, and identifying her place in the intellectual and political debates about school education during that period.


Supervisors and Institution(s):

  • Dr. Christopher Phelps, Associate Professor of American History, University of Nottingham
  • Dr. Robin Vandome, Assistant Professor in American Intellectual and Cultural History, University of Nottingham

Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links

None current

Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

None current


Other Research Interests:

  • American Educational History
  • Political Ideologies (Neoconservatism, The New Left, Neoliberalism)
  • Ethnic Groups and Multiculturalism
  • Political think-tanks, particularly in the field of education
  • Contribution of Jewish-American Political Writers
  • Teachers’ Unions within the American Labour Movement


University email address:




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