Professor Stephen Jackson is stepping out of his area of expertise to explore a new topic that hits close to home: the history of University of Sioux Falls, formerly Sioux Falls College, during World War II.          

Dr. Jackson has been a scholar of British imperial and colonial studies for 10 years and an assistant professor of History at USF for four years, so the new research is a departure from his typical endeavors. 

“Picture it: The U.S. was facing the worst economic collapse in American history with the Great Depression and then immediately was plunged into the greatest war it has ever known,” Dr. Jackson said. “Many small private colleges were shuttering their doors and four in this region alone closed.”

Somehow despite this, USF faculty, staff and students remained committed to the institution and it persevered through lean years leading up to World War II and changing enrollment with the war.

“I think they remained committed because they believed in its mission of preparing students to serve God and humankind in the world. It’s a powerful story to tell, and I’m looking forward to researching and telling it.”

Dr. Jackson’s research will appear alongside other scholars’ work on similar private universities in John Laukaitis’ Denominational Higher Education During World War II. The volume will focus on the framing of faith and war, service to the nation and the dynamics of the denominational campus during the war years. It is expected to be published in November 2018.

“Normally I study people and events on different continents,” Dr. Jackson says. “This has been my first foray into local history, and it has been a more meaningful experience than I would have imagined, enabling me to connect powerfully with my subjects. Researching this project has helped deepen my appreciation for USF and the Sioux Falls community. Though I’m not telling the institution’s entire history, I believe there is value in sharing the story and history of USF, which reveals a lot about how we came to be the institution we are today.”

In addition, the chapter will trace issues relating to student service in the military, student reactions to the conflict, curriculum changes, staffing challenges, the relationship with other American Baptist churches and organizations and leadership transitions.

Dr. Jackson has an impressive list of scholarship and creative work including his most recent publication, “British History is Their History: Britain and the British Empire in the Curriculum of Ontario, Canada and Victoria, Australia 1930-1975”, which was published this year in the international history of education journal Espacio, Tiempo y Educación.

He was also recently named a Georg Eckert Research Institute Fellow and received USF’s Outstanding Faculty Award in 2016 and the Excellence in Teaching Award from the USF Chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success in 2015.

Read more about Dr. Jackson here.

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