Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

Howard Johnston

Keywords

American history, Civil War, Just War, moral education, war

Abstract

Textbooks are a significant element of the social studies curriculum and teacher pedagogical choice (Apple, 2004; Apple & Christian-Smith, 1991). Students' views of American history are dramatically affected by the textbook narratives to which they are exposed, and teachers often tilt their curricular choices based on the textbooks available to them (Luke, 2006; Schug, Western & Enochs, 1997). The history of our nation's armed conflicts is often presented, through our textbooks and our pedagogy, as a history of reluctant violence, which promotes a particular moral agenda that exerts control over our students' future beliefs and decisions. This is particularly important with regard to our textbook depictions of the U.S. Civil War, which holds a curricular status as a necessary and moral conflict. The "just war" doctrine is a philosophical framework which allows individuals to consider the ethical conditions under which war may be morally permissible, and it provides our students with an opportunity to engage in critical thinking regarding our nation's historical policies. The utility of the "just war" doctrine in American history classrooms is a topic that is largely unexplored in social science education. Therefore, using a critical analysis methodology that evaluates textbook depictions of the U.S. Civil War from a "just war" doctrinal perspective, the ensuing study will contribute to the research base in social science education by elaborating a framework from which teachers may approach the moral realities of war with their students.

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