ICSS conference to feature noted sociologist, Decatur native James Loewen

March 13, 2014

The Illinois Council for the Social Studies will welcome noted sociologist and race relations expert Dr. James Loewen to Bradley for its spring conference.

Loewen, a Decatur native, author and retired University of Vermont professor, will discuss classroom applications of his best-known books, “Sundown Towns” and “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong.”

Loewen will also visit Cullom-Davis Library’s Special Collections for research.

The conference will include sessions themed around Bradley’s yearlong Civil Rights celebration.

“Part of what we recognize at Bradley is it’s all our history,” said Teacher Education Department Chair Dr. Dean Cantú. “We look back and we wonder how we lived in a democracy and yet allowed certain things to happen. It’s perfect timing for Loewen.”

Educators will be encouraged to teach students how to think critically about issues that are either ignored or misrepresented by textbooks. To promote thinking beyond the textbooks, educators will be given tools to help students analyze primary documents and engage in historical research.

Such conversations, Cantú believed, will positively impact classrooms.

“It’s elevated discussion, and as a result, we graduate students well-equipped for the 21st century,” he said. “We need to equip them with a skill set similar to that of historians.”

Cantú is the ICSS executive director. Dr. David McMullen, associate chair of Bradley’s teacher education department, is the ICSS president-elect.

For conference registration information, visit the ICSS website.

Loewen’s visit is partially funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.