Social Reform Movements in America Capstone

Stephen Shoemaker "The capstone in Social Reform Movements represents an opportunity for ALM students to work in an interdisciplinary context. Your course peers will be specialists in History, Government and Religion, and together we all benefit from utilizing the approaches and sources available in these various fields as we study the larger patterns of social reform and consider the implications of that perspective for our own specialized topics of study."

— Stephen Shoemaker, Faculty


The Social Reform Movements capstone provides an opportunity for in-depth research set in an environment of colleagues who are pursuing various projects which all fall under the banner of social reform. The precapstone class, HIST 597 Social Reform Movements in America, will undertake a collective analysis of certain key topics in social reform history as a way to establish a common ground across all the disciplines represented by our students. While enjoying group discussions on shared readings, each student will also undertake their own individual research into a topic pertaining to a specific reform movement in American history. They will then apply the lessons of group work to their own project.

In the spring capstone class, HIST 599 Social Reform Movements in America Capstone, the course model shifts to a workshop design, where students will not only read each other's writing, but they will make regular presentations to their classmates on specific aspects of their research project. These presentations will include interaction with the relevant secondary literature, the creation of a theoretical context for their analysis, argumentation and evidence. Together the group will provide suggestions for how to improve and strengthen each project. Learning how to give and receive constructive criticism is one of the learning outcomes of this course. By the end of spring term, each student will have produced an article-length project which reflects the standards for submission to a peer-reviewed journal in their field of study.


To support research on your social reform topic, we recommend that you visit the link guides by subject and in the search box type: "Social Reform Movements."  Dr. Shoemaker has also created a specific library search page for the course.

Capstone Faculty

Stephen Shoemaker, PhD, Director of Liberal Arts Programs, Harvard Extension School