Diana Hess

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Main Office

Curriculum & Instruction
School of Education
210 Teacher Education Building
225 North Mills Street
MadisonWI  53706

Tel: 608/263.4600
Fax: 608/263.9992

Email: curric@education.wisc.edu
or by contact form

Dean Diana Hess

D. Hess

Profile Photo

D. Hess

Deans Office
Curriculum and Instruction (CI)

Curriculum and Instruction (CI)

377 Education Building  binoculars icon
1000 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
Fax: 608/265-2512

Curriculum Vitae

Personal Biography

Diana Hess became dean of UW-Madison’s School of Education on Aug. 1, 2015. Hess, only the ninth dean of the School of Education since its founding in 1930, comes to this post after serving as senior vice president of the Spencer Foundation in Chicago since September 2011. The Spencer Foundation funds research to improve education policy and practice. Hess, however, is no stranger to UW-Madison. She first arrived on campus in 1999 to join the School’s No. 1-ranked Department of Curriculum and Instruction as an assistant professor. She climbed the ranks, becoming an associate professor in 2005 and a full professor in 2009 before taking a leave from the university to work at Spencer. Since 1997, she has been researching how teachers engage their students in discussions of highly controversial political and constitutional issues, and what impact this approach to civic education has on what young people learn. Her first book on this topic, Controversy in the Classroom: The Democratic Power of Discussion won the National Council for the Social Studies Exemplary Research Award in 2009. Her most recent book, The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education, co-authored with Paula McAvoy, won the American Educational Research Association’s Outstanding Book Award in 2016 and the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in 2017. Also in 2017, Diana Hess was recognized by the National Council on Social Studies with Grambs Distinguished Career Award for Research. Professor Hess is deeply committed to working with teachers to improve the quality of democratic education in schools. To that end, she frequently keynotes conferences and leads professional development courses and workshops. Professor Hess serves on the board of the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago and the iCivics Scholars Advisory Board.


Ph D, Curriculum and Instruction in Social Studies, Educational Policy and Law
University of Washington

University of Illinois

Western Illinois University

Research Interests

1. The impact of school-based democratic education programs on youth political engagement. 2. The ideological content of social studies curriculum. 3. How students experience and learn from discussions of highly controversial political issues.

Grants and Sponsorships

  • 2004-2010 - Amount: $408,000.00, "Discussing Controversial Issues Study," Awarded By: The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, The Watson Institue at Brown University, The Carnegie Corporation of New York, The McCormick Foundation, The Spencer Foundation, The Graduate School of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Diana Hess, Principal.
    Abstract: A five-year longitudinal study about how deliberating controversial issues in high school courses influences the civic learning and participation of young people.
  • 2002 - Amount: $13,000.00, "Conflicts In Democracy Education: Using Post 9-11 Curricula To Illuminate The Theoretical Terrain.," Awarded By: The Graduate School of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Sponsor Type: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Diana Hess.
  • 1999 - Amount: $44,580.00, "How Students Experience And Learn From Discussions Of Controversial Political Issues," Awarded By: The Spencer Foundation's Competitive Small Grants Program, Sponsor Type: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Diana Hess.


  • Hess, D. (2018). The Problem With Calling Scholars 'Too Political'. Education Week.
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  • Hess, D. (2018). Scholars, Don’t Overstep Your Expertise. Education Week. 37(17), 27.
  • Hess, D. (2017). The Impact of K12 Civic Education on Political Participation and Voting in an Era of Political Polarization. AERA Research Factsheet. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.
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  • Stoddard, J., & Hess, D. (2016). 9/11 and the War on Terror in American secondary curriculum fifteen years later. In W. Journell (Eds.), Reassessing the social studies curriculum: Promoting critical civic engagement in a politically polarized post-9/11 world. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Press.
  • Hess, D. (2016). No Time to take a Pass: Why Schools Should Teach Young People about the 2016 Elections. Social Education. 80(5), 252-254.
  • Hess, D. (2016). Promoting the Values of Inclusion, Learning, and Expertise in Complex Situations. In M. Levinson and J. Fay (Eds.), Dilemmas of Educational Ethics: Cases and Commentaries, (pp. 62-66). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
    Abstract: Drawing on research and methods developed in the Justice in Schools project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), Dilemmas of Educational Ethics introduces a new interdisciplinary approach to achieving practical wisdom in education, one that honors the complexities inherent in educational decision making and encourages open discussion of the values and principles we should collectively be trying to realize in educational policy and practice. At the heart of the book are six richly described, realistic accounts of ethical dilemmas that have arisen in education in recent years, paired with responses written by noted philosophers, empirical researchers, policy makers, and practitioners, including Pedro Noguera, Howard Gardner, Mary Pattillo, Andres A. Alonso, Jamie Ahlberg, Tony N. Romer, and Michael J. Petrilli. The editors illustrate how readers can use and adapt these cases and commentaries in schools and other settings in order to reach a difficult decision, deepen their own understanding, or to build teams around shared values.
  • Hess, D., Stone, S., & Kahne, J. (2015). Should high school students be required to pass a citizenship test? Social Education. 79(4), 172-175.
  • Hess, D., & McAvoy, P. (2015). The political classroom: Ethics and evidence in democratic education. New York, NY: Routledge.
    Abstract: Awarded the Grawemeyer Award in Education. Winner of the 2016 Outstanding Book Award from the American Educational Research Association
  • Hess, D., & McAvoy, P.J. (2014). Debates and conversations: From the ground up. Educational Leadership. 72(3), 48-53.
  • Hess, D., & McAvoy, P.J. (2014). Should teachers help students develop partisan identities? Social Education. 78(6), 293-297.
  • McAvoy, P.J., & Hess, D. (2013). Classroom deliberation in an era of political polarization. Curriculum Inquiry. 43(1), 14-47.
  • Hess, D. (2012). Should Schools Teach Students To Vote? Yes! Social Education. 76(6), 283-289.
  • Hess, D. (2011). Discussions That Drive Democracy. Educational Leadership. 69(1), 69-73.
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  • Stoddard, J., Hess, D., & Hammer, C. (2011). The challenges of writing "first draft history": The evolution of the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath in school textbooks in the United States. In L. Yates & M. Grumet (Eds.), 2011 world yearbook of education: Curriculum in the today's world: Identities, politics, work and knowledge, (pp. 223-235). New York, USA: Routledge.
    Download Publication
  • Stoddard, J., & Hess, D. (2011). Fact Sheet: 9/11 and the War on Terror in curricula and state standard documents. Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning (CIRCLE).
    Online Publication/Abstract
  • McLeod, J., Hess, D., Shah, D., & Lee, N.J. (2010). Communication and Education: Creating Competence for Socialization into Public Life. In L. Sherrod (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Civic Engagement of Youth, (pp. 363-391). Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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  • Hess, D. (2009). Controversy in the classroom: The democratic power of discussion. New York, NY: Routledge.
    Abstract: Winner of the 2009 Exemplary Research in Social Studies Award from the National Council for the Social Studies.


  • Hess, D., Darling-Hammond, L., Bryk, A., & DeMoss, K. (2018). Improving the Quality of Teaching and Teacher Education in a Changing Education Landscape, Deans’ Convening, Carnegie Corporation of New York, New York, New York.
  • Hess, D., Lomawaima, K., & Anderson, J. (2017). The Role of Education Research and Practice in Civic Discourse and Reasoning, National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Fall Fellow Retreat and Annual Meeting, Spencer Foundation, Washington, D.C.
  • Hess, D., Allen, D., & Stid, D. (2017). State of Our Democracy: What’s at Stake, iCivics’ Democracy at the Crossroads National Summit, The Carnegie Corporation, Hewlett Foundation and McCormick Foundation, Washington, D.C.
  • Hess, D., Artiles, A., Moje, E., & Nelson-Barber, S. (2016). Public Scholarship ED-Talks: Inclusive Education Practices, Annual Meeting ED-Talks, Washington, D.C.
  • Hess, D. (2016). Vignettes on Deaning for Public Scholarship, Higher Education Leadership Conference on Advancing Public Scholarship in Education, American Education Research Association, Washington, D.C.
  • Hess, D., Evans, R., Gaudelli, W., Jorgensen, G., Noddings, N., Parker, W., & Thornton, S. (2016). Dewey and Issues-Centered Education, The Centennial Conference on Democracy and Education, John Dewey Society, Washington, D.C.
  • Hess, D., Asen, R., Brighouse, H., Lin, Z., McAvoy, P.J., Murphy, K., Nelson, A., & Posey-Maddox, L.E. (2016). The Central Question: Does Educational Decision-Making Produce Democratic Outcomes?, Center on Ethics and Education Conference in honor of John Dewey, University of Wisconsin Educational Policy Studies, Madison, WI.
  • Hess, D., & Parker, W. (2016). How We Live Together: A Community Conversation with Diana Hess, Facing History and Ourselves and The Allstate Foundation Conference in Partnership with The Civic Canopy, Denver, CO.
  • Hess, D., & Parker, W. (2015). A Citizenship Test for Graduation?, Vital Issues Session, NCSS, New Orleans, LA.
  • Hess, D., & McAvoy, P.J. (2015). The political classroom., National Law-Related Education Conference, American Bar Association, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Hess, D. (2015). Funding of social studies research: past, present, and future, Social Studies Research SIG Business Meeting, American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL.

Departmental Service

  • Student Awards Committee of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction
    Dates of Membership: 2007 - 2009
  • Committee Chair. Period of Service: 2007 - 2009

  • Student Awards Committee of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction
    Dates of Membership: 2003 - 2006
  • Committee Chair. Period of Service: 2005 - 2006

  • Personnel Committee of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction
    Dates of Membership: 1999 - 2002
  • Committee Member.

School Service

  • Coordinating Committee on Teacher Education
    Dates of Membership: 2007 - 2009
  • Chair. Period of Service: 2007 - 2009

Public Service

  • Civics Advisory Committee of the Spencer Foundation
    Dates of Membership: 2011 - Pres.

  • American Educational Research Journal
    Dates of Membership: 2010 - Pres.
  • Editorial Review Board Member. Period of Service: 2010 - Pres.

  • Research Advisory Committee of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE)
    Dates of Membership: 2009 - 2012
  • Member. Period of Service: 2009 - 2012

  • Education, Citizenship, and Social Justice
    Dates of Membership: 2005 - Pres.
  • Editor, Associate Editor. Period of Service: 2005 - Pres.

  • Madison West High School Professional Development School Program
    Dates of Membership: 2005 - Pres.
  • Liaison from UW-Madison. Period of Service: 2005 - Pres.

  • Theory and Research in Social Education
    Dates of Membership: 2004 - 2010
  • Editorial Review Board Member. Period of Service: 2004 - 2007
  • Editorial Review Board Member. Period of Service: 2010 - 2010

  • Standing Committee for the National Assessment of Educational Progress Civics Exam (NAEP)
    Dates of Membership: 2003 - 2006
  • Committee Member.

  • Professional Development Programs for Secondary Teachers
    Dates of Membership: 1999 - Pres.
    Accomplishments: Taught and developed numerous programs for secondary teachers in the U.S. and other nations (England, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, New Zealand).
  • Workshop Organizer.

Awards and Honors

  • Other
    Organization: Other
    Purpose: Scholarship/Research
    Scope: Other University
    Description: Diana Hess (PhD '98), a scholar renowned for her work advancing civic education, has received the University of Washington College of Education’s 2018 Distinguished Alumnus Award.
    Date(s): 2018
  • Other
    Organization: Other
    Purpose: Teaching
    Description: Awarded to Diana Hess and Paula McAvoy
    Date(s): 2017
  • Other
    Organization: National Council for the Social Studies
    Purpose: Scholarship/Research
    Date(s): 2017
  • Other
    Organization: Other
    Date(s): 2016
  • Other
    Organization: National Council for the Social Studies
    Purpose: Scholarship/Research
    Description: Award received for book entitled "Controversy in the classroom: The democratic power of discussion."
    Date(s): 2009


  • American Educational Research Association
  • College and University Faculty of the National Council of the Social Studies
  • National Council for the Social Studies
  • Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies
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