Jon Shelton

UW-Green Bay Prof. Jon Shelton awarded National Academy of Education fellowship to study how the connection between education and economic opportunity affects political divisions today

Shelton one of 30 selected from more than 200 applicants

If your vision of “living history” is an aging professor prattling on about his early years, you have yet to meet UW-Green Bay Associate Professor, Jon Shelton (Democracy and Justice Studies).

Shelton’s approach to understanding history is to research the thread of an event or concept from its origins, follow the significant developments over time and engage students in discussion about the way it is being lived or applied now. Students learn how lessons from the past might inform decisions today.

His research focuses on the intersection of history and education, an area on which he has built a reputation as a national scholar. He is regularly contacted by reporters (New York Times, TIME, Washington Post, etc.) who are looking for context behind national stories about education and labor relations.

To further his research, Shelton has been awarded a prestigious postdoctoral grant from the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Fellowship Program, which supports “early career scholars working in critical areas of education research,” according to the NAEd website.

“One of the best features of the fellowship,” said Shelton, “is the opportunity to network with other research fellows and members of the National Academy. It gives me the opportunity to think outside of my own discipline, which is also consistent with the interdisciplinary, problem-focused nature of UW-Green Bay.”

Shelton will use the research fellowship to explore the historical connections between education, economic opportunity, and political divisions in America.

“I was trained as a labor historian, but now I also do work in the history of education,” said Shelton. In fact, his dissertation[1] won an award from the Labor and Working-Class History Association and his book[2] won the First Book Award from the International Standing Conference on the History of Education.

“The main reason I became interested in my current topic has to do with my students in Democracy and Justice Studies,” Shelton continued. “It was clear these students believed in the value of education, but a lot of them talked about family members who had college degrees and still could not find jobs. They voiced lower expectations about what a college education would actually do for them. This got me curious about what Americans thought about education and economic opportunity or economic security over time.”

Shelton said the Democratic Party in the ‘60s had bipartisan support for the idea that education was just one part of a host of social democratic policies necessary to alleviate poverty and give all Americans economic security. By the ‘90s, however, many national Democrats increasingly called for investing public funds in education and job re-training as their major policy for increasing economic inequality.

In the decades afterward, Shelton believes, as investments in education failed to provide good jobs to everyone and jobs moved to other countries, a real resentment bubbled up from the grassroots. Successful politicians, he said, have been able to mobilize disaffected, blue-collar groups, especially in the upper Midwest, who express a desire to “discipline these educators who are spending our tax dollars needlessly.”

As a consequence, Shelton posited, in the past few years, there has been both an assault on the political center from the right, and an existential discussion among the Democrats about where they’re going to go, as a few Democratic presidential candidates challenge some Democratic norms.

“What I’m going to do is look at how various people have made the economic argument for education, going back as far as the 19th century, and how that’s changed over time,” said Shelton. “I’m a proponent of public investment in education, obviously, but I think the narrative that education can solve all problems has come at the expense of other things policy-makers should have considered in order to provide full economic citizenship for all Americans. If that had happened, I don’t think we’d be seeing the big levels of resentment we see right now in both parties.

Shelton’s research will take him away from teaching for a full academic year, starting now, spring term 2020. Losing a faculty member from an eight-person department can have a significant impact on remaining faculty, but Shelton said he’s received tremendous support from his peers and from university administration.

“My department chair, Alison Staudinger, and our dean, Chuck Ryback, have been ‘150% supporters’ of this fellowship,” said Shelton. “And my colleagues’ only question has been, “How do we make this work?””

Although Shelton’s research will take him away from UW-Green Bay, he won’t be too far.

“The nature of historical research involves visiting archives,” said Shelton. “I’ll be visiting the National Education Association archives in Washington, D.C., and I’ll visit other sites across the upper Midwest. I’m planning to visit UW-Madison, the state archives of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, the Reuther Library in Detroit to see the American Federation of Teachers archives, the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock and the Johnson Presidential Library in Austin. I’m still scoping out some of the study plan, so there will probably be more visits like that.”

Shelton is already integrating some of his research findings into his classroom.

“I’m fortunate to work in an academic unit that engages all of us on the faculty in pursuit of a similar question about democracy and social justice, so I don’t see any way that this would not inform our classwork. In fact, a lot of the questions I’m exploring came from classroom discussions.”

The collaborative campus environment is what drew Shelton to Green Bay.

“I came to UW-Green Bay in 2013 because I was attracted by the interdisciplinary, problem-focused nature of the campus,” Shelton said. “It sounds corny, but I am lucky to be in arguably the best academic unit that exists anywhere in the country. We’re small, but we’re devoted to a common project that transcends our disciplines: What makes societies equitable, what makes them change, how they can become more equitable?

“Students come to study with us because they are excited about that question,” he said. “Many go on to grad school or law school or become labor organizers across the country.”

Shelton is also preparing a second book, which will explore what his research has revealed about history’s influence on contemporary politics. He hopes it will resonate with the general reader and national policy makers.

“One of my goals is to explain how we got to this point,” said Shelton. “The other goal is to look at the arguments people have made to connect education, economics and politics, and to learn where those arguments were helpful and where they were not.

“I hope people will read the book and talk about how we have come to think about politics today,” he concluded. “I also hope this will inform political debates about education and economic policy for the future.”

And that brings history to life.

[1] “Against the Public: Teacher Strikes and the Decline of Liberalism, 1968-1981,” University of Maryland, 2013. Advisor: Julie Greene

[2] “Teacher Strike! Public Education and the Making of a New American Political Order,” University of Illinois Press/Working Class in American History series, 2017.

UW-Green Bay Counseling and Health releases statement on campus response to the coronavirus

The following memorandum was sent to the UW-Green Bay community regarding a virus outbreak in China from Amy Henniges, Counseling and Health director:

“As you may be aware, there is an outbreak of a new virus in China, called “2019nCoV” or “Wuhan Coronavirus.” The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay expresses its deepest concerns and support to the people of Wuhan.

Please be advised that no students have arrived from Wuhan, China this semester and there are no reported cases of the Coronavirus on our campuses.  CDC has provided information to all travelers from Wuhan, China with information and what steps they should take if signs/symptoms develop. In addition, we have reached out to students who may have traveled to Wuhan, China over break and provided information related to the outbreak, symptoms and protocol to follow if they become ill.

The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is a top priority. University officials are closely and continuously monitoring this situation and are taking every measure and action that is being directed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Brown County Public Health. 

If there is any information that would indicate an actual health emergency related to the Coronavirus, we will be sending an immediate emergency notification.

Please read the following link at the CDC for specific information:

CDC FAQ https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/2019-ncov-factsheet.pdf

If you recently traveled to Wuhan, China or have been in direct contact with someone who has, and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, within 14 days of travel, you should follow the CDC’s recommendations as attached:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/sick-with-2019-nCoV-fact-sheet.pdf

  • If you are a student, you may call the Counseling and Health Center during regular business hours at 920-465-2380 for assistance if needed.

Please remember that it is also currently flu and respiratory season and it is recommended that you follow CDC’s everyday precautions to prevent the spread of germs:

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/prevention.htm

Additionally, UW-Green Bay has also developed a FAQ with campus specific details that will soon be available at the Counseling and Health website.

Any questions should be directed to the Counseling and Health Center at 920-465-2380 or Brown County Public Health Department at 920-448-6400 or Wisconsin Department of Health Services at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov

All media inquiries should be directed to the Marketing and University Communications Department at 920-465-2527. 

Further information will be updated as it becomes available.”

 

Monday Evening Quarterbacking: Reviewing the Big Game Ads

The only thing bigger than the “Big Game” are the big commercials! On Monday, Feb. 3, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Christie Theatre, join Austin E. Cofrin School of Business Associate Prof. Sampath Ranganathan (Marketing) and Associate Lecturer Kathy McKee, as well as Associate Prof. Bryan Carr (Communication and Information Science) for a fun, informative and interactive multimedia discussion of the best and worst commercials of the 2020 Super Bowl and the economic and media motives behind them! Bring your questions and be ready to vote for the ad you think was the year’s best. This event is free and open to the public.

Spring International Film Series starts with ‘Salt of the Earth,’ Feb. 5, 2020

The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences invites everyone to the International Film Series for spring 2020. All screenings begin at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Neville Public Museum. All films are free and open to the public. Films are unrated, but intended for a mature audience. The first film of the season is “Salt of the Earth” on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. It will be presented by Associate Prof. Jon Shelton (History).

The film’s description: At New Mexico’s Empire Zinc mine, Mexican-American workers protest the unsafe work conditions and unequal wages compared to their Anglo counterparts. Ramon Quintero helps organize the strike, but he is shown to be a hypocrite by treating his pregnant wife, Esperanza, with a similar unfairness. When an injunction stops the men from protesting, however, the gender roles are reversed, and women find themselves on the picket lines while the men stay at home.

Office of International Education ready to talk to your students about studying abroad

This is a reminder that if you are interested in a classroom visit from the Office of International Education to talk about study abroad, please let the OIE know! Personnel are able to stop in classes for 5-10 minutes (or another length if interested) and cover any specific topics your students may be interested in. If you are interested in a presentation, please contact Jemma Lund, Assistant Director of Study Abroad, at lundj@uwgb.edu by Friday, Jan. 31 with your preferred dates, times and course names. Any messages received after that date will be added according to pending availability of OIE staff.

SAFE Ally Level 1 & 2 Training is Friday, March 13

The UW-Green Bay Pride Center is offering SAFE Ally Level 1 and Level 2 training on Friday, March 13, at UW-Green Bay in the University Union, Room World Unity B. Level 1 is from 10 a.m. to noon; Level 2 is from 1 to 3 p.m. Level 1 focuses on vocabulary, the use of inclusive pronouns, LGBTQ+ community and workplace experiences and how to increase one’s ability to be an ally. Level 2 digs deeper into challenges LGBTQ+ experience due to discrimination in government and organizational policies, and what you can do to increase support of LGBTQ+.

Please RSVP for one or both of the SAFE Ally classes here or use the link: https://uwgreenbay.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_b7pMD6uh1hQCU7z.

‘(M)iyamoto is Black Enough’ is coming to the Weidner Center, Feb. 20

(M)iyamoto is Black Enough” is coming to the Weidner Center on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. The show is pulling audiences out of their seats with a combination of poems and complex musical compositions that, together, speak directly and forcefully to the issues of all our times with driving and hypnotic beats. For more information and tickets, see here.