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Scott J. Peters
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Scott J. Peters is co-director of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life (IA) and a Syracuse University professor in the Cultural Foundations of Education department in the School of Education. He has devoted his professional career to studying and strengthening higher education’s public mission, purposes and work. His research agenda focuses on the connections between higher education and democracy, especially in the land-grant system. His most recent book, “Democracy and Higher Education: Traditions and Stories of Civic Engagement” (Michigan State University Press, 2010), contributes to a new line of research on the critically important task of strengthening and defending higher education’s positive roles in and for a democratic society. He is the author of Imagining America’s Foreseeable Futures position paper, “Changing the Story About Higher Education’s Public Purposes and Work: Land-Grants, Liberty, and the Little Country Theater.”



A nationally recognized scholar, Peters has designed and pursued independent research projects with significant support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Kettering Foundation. He is on the leadership team of a national five-year initiative, funded with a $5 million grant from USDA, called “Food Dignity: Action Research on Engaging Food Insecure Communities and Universities in Building Sustainable Community Food Systems.”



At Cornell since 1999, Peters established an innovative teaching and research program that interweaves democratic theory and political and educational philosophy with historical and narrative methods. Before Cornell, he spent two years as an assistant professor of public work with the University of Minnesota Extension System. He received two graduate degrees at the University of Minnesota: a master’s degree in public affairs from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and a Ph.D. in educational policy and administration. Before his graduate work, he served for 10 years as program director of one of the nation’s oldest community-university partnerships, the University YMCA at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received his bachelor’s degree in education.

Entries by Scott J. Peters

Welcome to the PAGE2Ferguson Blog Salon

(0) Comments | Posted February 10, 2015 | 9:27 AM

At this time of protest over systems of power, oppression, racism, and police brutality, Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life lifts up the voices of our graduate students in response to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2015, our Publicly Active Graduate Education...

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Reconsidering the Civic Value of Cooperative Extension Through Stories

(0) Comments | Posted February 12, 2014 | 7:15 AM

In 1996, I spent some time at the University of Wisconsin at Madison working in the archives for my dissertation research. I was studying the origins and early development of the Cooperative Extension System's civic mission. Looking through a collection of papers about county extension work, I found...

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Countering the Single Story About Higher Education's Public Purpose

(4) Comments | Posted September 27, 2013 | 4:28 PM

By Scott J. Peters and Timothy K. Eatman, Faculty Co-Directors, Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life

In her moving TED talk on "the danger of the single story," Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie describes how single, one dimensional stories about people, institutions, and...

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In Troubled Times, a Democratic Revival

(0) Comments | Posted January 23, 2013 | 5:13 PM

On a snowy night in Syracuse, New York, community members stream into Grace Episcopal Church. Soon the church hall is packed. As the lights are dimmed, the insistent cry of a fiddle cuts through the darkness. One by one, from every direction, lanterns flicker to life, causing a series of...

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Linked Fates and Futures

(0) Comments | Posted October 4, 2012 | 2:35 PM

This year's election is being framed as a choice between two opposing visions of American society. One vision reflects an embrace of cooperation and shared sacrifice. The other, of individual initiative, personal responsibility, and self-reliance. Backed up by recent polls, these visions appear to represent a deepening and solidifying divide...

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