Presbyterian College alumnus gives lecture on history of American public school systems

Presbyterian College alumnus gives lecture on history of American public school systems

Presbyterian College Alumnus Dr. Clif Stratton Clinton SC

On September 1, 2016, Dr. Clif Stratton, a 2003 graduate of Presbyterian College, who majored in history and political science, gave a guest lecture in Whitelaw Auditorium from his research on how race shaped American public education in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While on campus, he also visited a seminar for senior history majors, providing them with timely advice for their research projects.

After graduating from PC, Stratton earned an M.A. in history from Auburn University and a Ph.D. in history from Georgia State University. He currently serves as an assistant clinical professor of history and assistant director of the Roots of Contemporary Issues Program at Washington State University.

“Dr. Stratton is a rising scholar in American history,” said Dr. Michael Nelson, professor of history. “His research focuses on the American education system and convincingly shows how a hidden agenda of nationalism, racial hierarchy, and privilege were embedded within American schools.”

Stratton has recently published “Education for Empire,” in which he considers the American public school systems. Stratton argues that the system placed children on multiple and uneven paths to citizenship, offering varying kinds of subordination and degrees of exclusion closely tied to race, national origin, and U.S. imperial ambitions.

“Education for Empire” formed the basis for Stratton’s lecture at PC, in which he demonstrated how contemporary political debates and educational trends and practices continue to challenge the American culture.

“His work has been called ‘profoundly disturbing,’ in that it destroys myths Americans held both concerning education at home and U.S. intentions abroad,” added Nelson.

Stratton took the opportunity to give back to PC, not only by meeting with a group of faculty and students over lunch but also by visiting Dr. Richard Heiser’s senior seminar on medieval warfare and the crusades.

“It was great to have Clif spend time with the students who are getting started on their senior research project,” Heiser, professor of history said. “His encouragement to them and counsel to them was spot-on and timely, and his willingness to engage them reflects well the PC ethos.”

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Presbyterian College is located on a striking 240-acre campus in Clinton, between Columbia and Greenville, S.C. Offering challenging academics and a culture of honor, ethics, and service that prepares students to be leaders in communities, PC offers its students the benefit of engaging with an exceptional faculty who take individual interest in their students’ well-being, both personally and in the classroom. The Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy opened in 2010, and is dedicated to the ideals of leadership, honor to the profession, and service to the community. For more information about Presbyterian College, visit