College of Education > News and Publications > News: 2009 > Education Historian to Present Waterbury Lecture

Education Historian to Present Waterbury Lecture

John Rudolph will present the second Waterbury Lecture of the semester in a talk titled "How Understandings of Scientific Practice are Built: The Case of High School Biology in the 1960s." The lecture is open to the public and will take place on April 30.

rudolph.jpgby Pamela Batson (March 2009)

Historian and science educator, John Rudolph will present the College of Education’s Waterbury Lecture in a talk titled “How Understandings of Scientific Practice are Built: The Case of High School Biology in the 1960s.” The lecture will take place on April 30 at 5:00 p.m. in 108 Wartik on Penn State’s University Park campus. The event is open to the public and light refreshments will be served after the lecture.


Rudolph is an associate professor in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also holds appointments in the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies and the Department of History of Science, Medicine, and Technology. He was a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow during the 2004-05 academic year and currently serves as co-editor of the ‘Science Studies & Science Education’ section of the international research journal Science Education.


Rudolph’s research focuses on the history of science education in the United States and explores issues related to the teaching of the nature of science in current school practice. His first book, Scientists in the Classroom: The Cold War Reconstruction of American Science Education, examined the intellectual, social, and cultural forces that led to the sweeping reorganization of high school science curriculum after World War II. Currently, he is working on a book-length historical study funded by the National Science Foundation that examines the varied way scientific epistemology has been portrayed in classrooms over the past 125 years.


An accomplished author and researcher, Rudolph won the 2006 History of Education Society Best Article Prize for “Epistemology for the Masses: The Origins of 'the Scientific Method' in American Schools” which was published in History of Education Quarterly.


“John brings a unique and important reflective perspective to the field of science education. His science studies research using historical methods helps us understand how American culture and school science intersect and interact. Science is a parade of new tools, techniques and theories that both guide and frame our understandings of and methods for probing the natural world.  Such perspectives on the growth of knowledge make our educational research meaningful and comprehensive,” said Richard A. Duschl, professor of education and Waterbury Chair.


Rudolph received his Ph.D. in 1999 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Curriculum and Instruction. He also holds a master’s degree in the history of science. Previously, he taught biology, chemistry, and physics at several high schools and middle schools throughout Wisconsin.

The Waterbury Lecture is held twice a semester featuring prominent speakers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The lecture is sponsored by an endowment from Kenneth Waterbury to the Penn State College of Education to create the Kenneth B. Waterbury Chair in Secondary Education, which is held by Richard A. Duschl.