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John Dewey, America's Peace-Minded Educator

John Dewey, America's Peace-Minded Educator

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Charles F. Howlett and Audrey Cohan


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)
15 illustrations


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About the Book

One of America’s preeminent educational philosophers and public intellectuals, John Dewey is perhaps best known for his interest in the study of pragmatic philosophy and his application of progressive ideas to the field of education. Carrying his ideas and actions beyond the academy, he tied his philosophy to pacifist ideology in America after World War I in order to achieve a democratic world order. Although his work and life have been well documented, his role in the postwar peace movement has been generally overlooked.
In John Dewey, America’s Peace-Minded Educator, authors Charles F. Howlett and Audrey Cohan take a close look at John Dewey’s many undertakings on behalf of world peace. This volume covers Dewey’s support of, and subsequent disillusionment with, the First World War as well as his postwar involvement in trying to prevent another world war. Other topics include his interest in peace movements in education, his condemnation of American military intervention in Latin America and of armaments and munitions makers during the Great Depression, his defense of civil liberties during World War II, and his cautions at the start of the atomic age. The concluding epilogue discusses how Dewey fell out of favor with some academics and social critics in the 1950s and explores how Dewey’s ideas can still be useful to peace education today.
Exploring Dewey’s use of pragmatic philosophy to build a consensus for world peace, Howlett and Cohan illuminate a previously neglected aspect of his contributions to American political and social thought and remind us of the importance of creating a culture of peace through educational awareness.


Charles F. Howlett,a professor of education at Molloy College, is a coeditor of Antiwar Dissent and Peace Activism in World War I America: A Documentary Reader and, most recently, The American Peace and Justice Movement from the Early Twentieth Century to the Present. He is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of seven other books and numerous articles.
Audrey Cohan, a professor and a former department chair of education at Molloy College, is a coauthor of Serving English Language Learners, which was awarded the 2016 Textbook and Academic Authors Association’s Most Promising Textbook, and a coauthor or coeditor of seven other books and many articles.


“Although John Dewey’s reputation as a leading philosopher and educator is well established, far less is known about his participation in the quest for a peaceful world. Charles Howlett and Audrey Cohan help restore the balance by providing an important, detailed, and well-researched study of Dewey’s intense, sometimes painful engagement with issues of war and peace.”—Lawrence S. Wittner, professor of history emeritus, University at Albany, State University of New York
“Howlett and Cohan have provided a full and lucid account of John Dewey’s thought and activism on behalf of ‘relative pacifism.’ Much less well known than Dewey’s vigorous support of American intervention in World War I, the story of his subsequent effort to walk back from the abyss of modern war has now been given its due.”—Robert Westbrook, author of John Dewey and American Democracy

"Cohan and Howlett’s book reminds us of the necessity of exploring the dimensions of pacifist and internationalist thought amongst progressive intellectuals. And it reminds us that historians can still shed new light even on people as opaque as John Dewey." —Andrew McNalley, H-Net Reviews

"Howlett and Cohan dig deeper into Dewey’s evolving perspective on war. They provided a fresh perspective on his progression from supporting World War I to becoming a relative pacifist. This work presents original analysis of how Dewey’s peace activities intersected with the emergence of the modern peace movement in the interwar years."--Carl Mirra, Journal of American History