This seminar invites students to deliberate about the historical roots of the policies and politics of public education in the United States. We will study how ideas about merit, democracy, and equity (or lack thereof) have shaped decisions about what public education should offer and to whom. We will look to alternative traditions of learning and study how these traditions have challenged and complemented public education. As we explore theories and practices of the past and present, students will learn to articulate and advocate for their own priorities in public higher education as 21st-century citizens of UMD. This course uses project based pedagogy. Students will create a proposal for teaching a facet of American History (Pedagogical Design Project) and engage in peer critique (presentation Q&A) to hone their critical skills.