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Faculty members

Sam Wineburg

Sam Wineburg
Sam Wineburg
Academic Title 
Other Titles 

Margaret Jacks Professor of Education

Professor of History & (by courtesy), Professor of American Studies (by courtesy), Executive Director, Stanford History Education Group

Program Affiliations 
CTE: History/Social Science Education
Education and Jewish Studies

New book out in 2018, Why Learn History (When It's Already on Your Phone)

How young people make decisions about what to believe on the Internet.

New forms of assessment to measure historical understanding

The creation of Web-based environments for the learning and teaching of history

Sam Wineburg's work engages questions of identity and history in modern society: how today's youth use the past to construct individual and collective identities. Today his work focuses on how young people learn about world through digital media; specifically, in the digital Wild West what do they decide to believe or reject? Over the last twenty-five years his interests have spanned a wide terrain, from how adolescents and professional historians interpret primary sources to issues of teacher assessment and teacher community in the workplace. His book, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts, won the 2002 Frederic W. Ness Award from the Association of American Colleges and Universities for the book "that best illuminates the goals and practices of a contemporary liberal education." From 2007-2009 he was the Executive Director of the Department of Education's National Clearinghouse for History Education, a collaboration between George Mason University, Stanford, and the American Historical Association. With the late Roy N. Rosenzweig, he created the award-winning website, He founded the Stanford History Education Group, a research and development outfit dedicated to improving history instruction in the US and abroad, whose materials have been downloaded over 5 million times since 2009. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Sweden's Umeå University and the following year he was named the Obama-Nehru Distinguished Chair by the US-India Fulbright Commission. In 2015 he was inducted into the National Academy of Education.

In an age when no one regulates the information we consume, the task of separating truth from falsehood can no longer be for extra credit. Our browser can do many things, but it cannot teach discernment. Never has so much information been at our fingertips, but never have we been so ill-equipped to deal with it. The future of the past may be on our screens. But its fate rests in our hands.

- from Why Learn History (When It's Already on Your Phone)  University of Chicago Press, 2018

In its deepest forms, historical thinking is neither a natural process nor something that springs automatically from psychological development. Its achievement goes against the grain of how we ordinarily think, one of the reasons why it is much easier to learn names, dates and stories than it is to change the fundamental mental structures we use to grasp the meaning of the past . . . . Mature historical knowing teaches us to go beyond our own image, to go beyond our brief life, and to go beyond the fleeting moment in human history into which we've been born. History educates ("leads outward" in Latin) in the deepest sense. Of the subjects in the secular curriculum it does the best in teaching those virtues once reserved for theology - the virtue of humility, in the face of our limits to know; and the virtue of awe, in the face of the expanse of human history.

- from Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past (Temple University Press, 2001)

  • Stanford, Ph.D., Psychological Studies in Education
  • University of California/Berkeley, BA, History of Religion, summa cum laude
  • Brown University
  • Umeå University, L.D.H. Doctor of Human Letters

2014 Fulbright-Nehru Distinguished Chair, Univ. of North Bengal, India

1989-2002- Assistant Professor to Professor, Educational Psychology, & Professor of History, Univ. of Washington

1997-98 Visiting Professor, University of Haifa

1981-1985- middle school/ high school teacher in a variety of public and parochial settings

  • Teaching History/Social Studies (Ed 268)
  • History, Memory, and Identity (Ed 356x)
  • Scholarly Writing in Education & the Social Sciences (Ed 385x)
  • Howard Zinn and the Search for Historical Truth (Ed 105C --freshman seminar)
  • Qualitative Research Methods in Education (Ed 250C)

Member, Editorial Board, Cognition and Instruction, Journal of the Learning Sciences

Member, Advisory Board, National Research Council Committee, How People Learn, Targeted Report for Teachers

Member, Advisory Board, American Hebrew Academy, Greensboro, North Carolina

Member, Advisory Board, Center for the Study of Historical Consciousness, Univ. of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC

Trustee, National Council for History Education (NCHE)

Consultant, Mandel Foundation, Jerusalem

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