Profile: Benjamin Justice

Professor, Department of Educational Theory, Policy, and Administration

Benjamin Justice is Professor in the Department of Educational Theory, Policy, and Administration at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. He also an associate member of the History Department at Rutgers—New Brunswick and is a Senior Research Scholar and member of the Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School. Dr. Justice is a member of the Board of Directors of the History of Education Society, a member of the Standing Committee on American History for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and serves as chair of the Editorial Committee at Rutgers University Press as well as editing the book series, New Directions in History of Education.

Dr. Justice is holds a B.A. (history) from Yale, and a M.A. (history) and Ph.D. (Education) from Stanford University. His scholarship is wide-ranging and interdisciplinary, appearing in journals in education, history, law, social and political science, and philosophy, as well as in mainstream periodicals, radio, and tv. His book, The War That Wasn’t: Religious Conflict and Compromise in the Common Schools of New York State, 1865-1900, provides a social history of the micropolitics of religion in public schools in the country’s most religiously diverse state. In Have a Little Faith: Religion, Democracy, and the American Public School (coauthored with Colin MacLeod), he looks at tensions between public education and democratic ideals from historical and contemporary perspectives. He is also editor of The Founding Fathers, Education, and the Great Contest, which examines educational ideas in the early American Republic, and the methods by which historians uncover them.

Currently Dr. Justice is developing a line of research that examines the ways in which the US criminal justice system creates citizens. This work builds innovative connections between legitimacy theory and curriculum theory, positing that the criminal justice system is, itself, an educational system that bears both a formal and hidden curriculum. The dominant variable in these competing curricula, he argues, is race. Dr. Justice has written several articles on the subject and is currently writing a book with coauthor Tracey Meares that seeks to understand how experiences with police, courts, and pre-trial detention shape civic identity.

Dr. Justice is the winner of numerous awards for scholarship, teaching, and service, such as the AESA Critics Choice Book Award, the AERA Outstanding Reviewer Award, A National Academy of Education/Spencer Post-Doctoral Fellowship, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation’s Charlotte Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship, the NY State Archives/NY Department of Education/State University of New York Researcher of the Year, and awards in service, teaching, and research from Rutgers University and the Graduate School of Education.


Ph.D., Education (History of Education), Stanford University
M.A., History, Stanford University 
B.A., History, Yale University

Expertise & Research Interest

History Education
Social Studies Education
Criminal Justice

Recent & Selected Publications


Benjamin Justice and Colin Macleod, Have a Little Faith: Religion, Democracy, and the American Public School (Chicago: University of Chicago Press). 220 pages. 2016.

Book Chapters

Benjamin Justice, "Toward a Jurismythos of Thomas Jefferson: The Supreme Court’s Use and Abuse of America’s Most Controversial Founder" in Brian Dotts and Andrew Holowchak (eds.) The Elusive Thomas Jefferson: Essays on the Man Behind the Myths. (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishers, 2017): 46-68.


Benjamin Justice, Essay Review: "Public vs. Private: The Early History of School Choice in America, by Robert N. Gross. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. American Journal of Education. (February 2019): 289-293.

Benjamin Justice, " Schools, Prisons, and Pipelines: Facing, fixing, and reconceiving the toxic relationship between public education and criminal justice," Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries 55:10 (June, 2018): 1169-1176.

Benjamin Justice, "Curriculum Theory and the Welfare State," Espacio, Tiempo, y Educación 4:2 (2017).

Benjamin Justice and Colin MacLeod, "Civility, Democratic Education, and Public Reason, ", May 1, 2017. (Edited excerpt from Have a Little Faith)

Benjamin Justice and Colin MacLeod, "Does Religion Have a Place in Public Schools?" The Atlantic, Feb. 9, 2017 does-religion-have-a-place-in-public-schools/516189/ (Edited excerpt from Have a Little Faith)

Benjamin Justice, "Settler Colony on the Hudson: What history and theory tell us about the education crisis in East Ramapo, New York," Theory and Research in Education 14:2 (2016), pp. 168-192.

Benjamin Justice and Jason Stanley, "Teaching in the Time of Trump," Social Education 80:1(2016): 36-41.

Honors & Awards

Big Ten Academic Alliance Academic Leadership Fellow, Rutgers University

Council for the Support and Advancement of Education (CASE) Circle of Excellence Gold Award - Winner for Rutgers: a 250th Anniversary Portrait (contributing author)

Finalist for How the Criminal Justice System Educates Citizens, Spencer Mid-career Grant

Critics Choice Book Award, American Educational Studies Association

Outstanding Faculty Service Award, Rutgers Graduate School of Education Alumni Association

“The University’s most distinguished young faculty members,” Rutgers University Board of Trustees Research Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence

Outstanding Reviewer for Educational Researcher (ER), American Education Research Association

Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award, Rutgers Graduate School of Education Alumni Association

Finalist for Outstanding Book Award, History of Education Society

Spencer Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow, National Academy of Education

Researcher of the Year: Annual Award for Excellence in Research Using the Holdings of the Archives of New York State, State Education Department/University of the State of New York

Charlotte W. Newcombe Dissertation Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Foundation

Larry J. Hackman Research Fellow, New York State Archives

Winston Townsend Prize for excellence in English composition, English Department, Yale University

Professional Affiliations

Board of Directors, History of Education Society

Editorial Board, Theory and Research in Education

Member, The Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) US History Standing Committee

Member, American Educational Research Association

Member, Educational Studies Association



  • Phone: 
    (848) 932-0679
  • Office Address: 

    GSE Room 36A

  • Co-Founder, Chair of Executive Board, Initiative for Education and Justice

    Ed.D. and Ed.M. Education, Culture, and Society

    Ph.D. Concentration in Theory, Organization, and Policy

    Higher Education Ph.D.

    Social Studies Education Program