Education Social Studies Education
William B. Russell
  • LAST REVIEWED: 23 March 2012
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 March 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0041


Social studies education most commonly refers to the training of professional educators to teach social studies. It includes the training of social studies educators who emphasize the need for social education through the teaching of various social science disciplines (e.g., history, psychology, political science). The field of social studies education is unique and is occasionally referred to as social science education and/or history education. However, it should be noted that social science education and social studies education are often used interchangeably, but history education is a subfield of social studies education. Some may argue the opposite, because of history education’s perceived dominance in the field of social studies education, but this is neither a common nor a majority perspective. The citations included below lead a user to works that encompass the field of social studies education and the many subfields and issues that characterize this field. They have been selected because of their comprehensive nature or because of their significance in influencing the field generally or a particular direction within the brief historical evolution of social studies education.

General Overviews

The following general works provide a well-balanced introduction to the broad field of social studies education. The National Council for the Social Studies 2010 curriculum standards (see under Definition) is a thoughtful and organized text that outlines the purpose, goals, and standards for social studies. As the world changes and schools evolve, the state of social studies education and its perspectives shift. Russell 2011 is seminal work that examines the issues surrounding contemporary social studies education. Parker 2009 is a valuable collection of some of the most significant articles that have been recently published. Readers interested in issues related to social studies education research should turn to Stanley 2001.

  • Russell, W., (Ed.) 2011. Contemporary Social Studies: An Essential Reader.. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

    The field of social studies is unique and complex. It is challenged by the differing perspectives related to the definition, goals, content, and purpose of social studies. This volume discusses the issues surrounding social studies education today. Its 28 chapters are written by prominent scholars in the field of social studies. The collection inspires and provokes readers to reconsider and reexamine social studies and its contemporary state. Readers will explore the various critical topics that encompass contemporary social studies.

  • Parker, Walter, ed. 2009. Social studies today: Research and practice. New York: Routledge.

    This volume is a collection of previously published articles of significance. Each article discusses various issues and perspectives of social studies education. The volume includes twenty-five chapters written by some of the leading scholars in the field of social studies education.

  • Stanley, William B., ed. 2001. Critical issues in social studies research for the 21st century. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

    This volume discusses various issues and perspectives of social studies research relevant to the 21st century. The volume includes eleven chapters written by some of the leading scholars in the field of social studies education.

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