Ethan Schrum, PhD


Director, Humanities Program, and Associate Professor, Department of History and Political Science

Phone: (626) 815-6000, Ext. 3374

Fax: (626) 815-3868

Email: [email protected]

Office Location: Ronald Building, Room 126

Ethan Schrum, PhD, is associate professor of history and a faculty fellow of the Honors College. He is a historian of the United States who focuses on the twentieth century and intellectual history. He studies the relations of knowledge, value, and liberal democracy in late modernity, especially by investigating the history of universities and academic knowledge. His scholarship is at the intersection of modern intellectual history, the history of the U.S. in the world, science and technology studies, and the history of capitalism. His first book, The Instrumental University: Education in Service of the National Agenda after World War II (Cornell University Press, 2019), explains how elite research universities reconceived their missions after World War II, moving away from some founding ideals and reconfiguring themselves in order to stimulate economic growth and solve social problems. The book traces how this process brought technocratic, managerial, and capitalistic impulses into universities. As universities changed, they helped to legitimate a new conception of society—that America was becoming a knowledge economy. By carefully analyzing the thought of former University of California president Clark Kerr and lesser-known postwar university leaders, The Instrumental University elucidates how their technocratic vision for American modernity drove this institutional change. Schrum has also published articles in History of Education Quarterly, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Perspectives on the History of Higher Education, Social Science History, and The Hedgehog Review. In addition to his work at APU, Schrum is an associate fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, where he held a postdoctoral fellowship from 2011 to 2014 and is a member of the Colloquy on Culture and Formation.


  • PhD, History, University of Pennsylvania
  • MA, Religion in American Life, Wheaton College
  • MS, Chemical Engineering, Northwestern University
  • BS, Chemistry, Illinois Wesleyan University

Academic Area

  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Honors College


  • History of U.S. Foreign Relations
  • American Intellectual History
  • 20th Century U.S. History

Courses Taught

  • HIST 151 – United States History to 1865
  • HIST 152 – United States History Since 1865
  • HIST 200 – The Varieties of History
  • HIST 300 – Historical Research and Writing
  • HIST 334 – History of American Foreign Affairs
  • HIST 386 – Modern America
  • HIST 389 – Modern American Intellectual History
  • HIST 484 – Historical Themes
  • HON 101 – Leadership
  • HON 300 – Core IV (Great Works since 1850)
  • HON 360 – Democracy
  • HUM 202 – Civic Knowledge and Engagement
  • HUM 221/321 – Core Texts in History
  • POLI 496 - Senior Seminar: Religion and Politics