Thursday, September 19, 2019

By Jess Hawkins

Eric Freedman, visiting assistant professor of social studies education, joined the University of Iowa College of Education this fall in the Department of Teaching and Learning.

Freedman graduated from Swarthmore College in 1999, before receiving his Master of Science and Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Before joining the College of Education faculty, Freedman was an assistant professor at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut.

“I was looking for a role with more research, and as I started to learn more about the University of Iowa, I noticed some people that I could potentially collaborate with,” says Freedman. “Iowa City seems like a great place to raise a family, and my father-in-law actually went here, and he told me how much he enjoyed it here.”

Freedman’s research focuses on the teaching and learning of history.

“I think the unique element that I bring is a critical theory perspective on the teaching and learning of history and a design perspective,” says Freedman. “I’ve tried to keep my research very practical coming from that perspective, thinking very carefully about how my research could impact teachers.”

Freedman’s hands-on, collaborative approach to his research earned him an Exemplary Research Award from the National Council of Social Studies for his work developing a curriculum for a ninth-grade history class that used a critical lens to examine the past.

Freedman’s interest in the teaching and learning of history started in college when he started to become interested in politics.

“In college, I did various organizing around labor issues and issues related to race. and as part of that, I started to get interested in how people develop ideas related to these topics,” says Freedman.

“That lead me to social studies education and the potential that it has to really provoke deeper and more critical thinking about those issues,” he says.

This year, Freedman is exploring topics for a research project, and is hoping to utilize the resources around him.

“There is a very packed Democratic Primary (election) which will be very interesting, and Iowa is going to be at the center of it,” Freedman says. “An interesting project could be to look at how people are making their decisions when they vote and to trace that back to their time in school".

“I’m really hoping to build some strong connections here in Iowa and continue to get my work published,” he says.

Freedman is also teaching three classes this semester, which includes a secondary methods class and an elementary social studies section.

“I was really looking to maintain my research program even with a larger teaching load, so I am happy to be supported to do that here,” he says.

Besides teaching and research, Freedman hopes to make Iowa City feel like home for him and his young family.

“My family and I have been here for three weeks now, and it has been an amazing experience already,” he says. “We have really felt welcomed right away, both here within the college and in the city".