Benjamin Justice

Professor and Department Chair of Educational Theory, Rutgers University

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About Benjamin

Justice is an historian of education. He is interested in educational institutions and processes at a variety of levels and in various time periods, focusing on how public institutions both enhance and limit personal freedom and the common good. His three primary areas of focus include criminal justice institutions, religion, and education in the context of empire. Justice coordinates the Social Studies Education Program at Rutgers University, training future public school teachers and administrators. He is also active in doctoral training programs at Rutgers in the Graduate School of Education of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.


How America's Criminal Justice System Educates Citizens

  • Tracey L. Meares


"Settler Colony on the Hudson: What History and Theory Tell Us About the Education Crisis in East Ramapo Central School District, New York" Theory and Research in Education 14, no. 2 (2016): 168-192.

Uses the takeover and plundering of a public school district by Hasidic Jews in New York State as a case study. 

"Teaching in the Time of Trump" (with Jason Stanley). National Council for the Social Studies (2016): 36-41.

Discusses the divisive rhetoric of President Donald Trump and the challenges created for teachers covering the presidential primaries in class.

"Curriculum Theory and the Welfare State " Espacio, Tiempo Y Educación 4, no. 2 (2017): 19-42.

Attempts to reconcile disparate realms of social research that address the question: how do states make citizens? Begins by developing a mainstream conception of curriculum theory. Compares and contrasts social science traditions that engage questions related to the state's role in civic identity formation. Offers a case study on New York City's controversial policing strategy known as Stop, Question, and Frisk. Explores how curriculum theory can be a useful framework for understanding the educational features of a distinct social policy. 

"How the Criminal Justice System Educates Citizens" (with Tracey Meares). Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 651 (2014): 159-177.
Examines three facets of the criminal justice system, juries, policing, and incarceration, to examine the ways in which the criminal justice system overtly and implicitly educates citizens.
"The Founding Fathers, Education, and the Great Contest: The American Philosophical Society Essay Prize of 1797" (Palgrave MacMillan, 2013).
Brings together leading historians of education to deconstruct the original meanings of education in the American Republic, including issues of race, religion, gender, localism, and historical methodology.
"Education at the End of a Gun: The Origins of American Imperial Education in the Philippines" in By the Dawn's Early Light: American Educational Reconstruction in Post-Colonial Settings from the Spanish-American War to Iraq, edited by Noah Sobe (Palgrave, 2009), 19-65.
Challenges the idea that the Philippines marked a new, imperial phase of American education, showing instead how it was continuous with previous practices toward indigenous nations of North America.
"Beyond Nationalism: The Founding Fathers and Educational Universalism in the Early Republic" in Advancing Democracy Through Education? US Influence Abroad and Domestic Practices, edited by Bradley Levinson and Doyle Stevick (Information Age Publishing, 2008), 1-27.
Invites us to look at the revolutionary generation’s ideas about the tensions between educational particularism (especially the need to foster nationalism) and educational universalism. The founding fathers, it turns out, were more cosmopolitan in their beliefs than those who typically make originalist claims give them credit for.
"The Blaine Game: Are Public Schools Inherently Anti-Catholic?" Teachers College Record 109, no. 9 (2007): 2171-2206.
Challenges an emerging strain of jurisprudence that claims public education is inherently bigoted against Catholics. Uses historical analysis to refute that claim on its own originalist terms, exploring the complex meaning of Catholicism, and anti-Catholicism, in a religiously diverse democracy.
"The War That Wasn’t: Religious Conflict and Compromise in the Common Schools of New York State, 1865-1900 " (SUNY Press, 2005).
Provides a social history of religion and public education in a crucial period in American history, showing that beneath the heated rhetoric of conflict, Americans in the late 19th century found a variety of ways to compromise over their religious differences within public schools.