Associate Professor of History
Associate Professor of Public Policy and Higher Education, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Chancellor Faculty Fellow (2016–18)
Christopher Loss is an historian of the twentieth-century United States who specializes in the social, political, and policy history of higher education. His interests range from the study of democratic citizenship and interdisciplinary expertise to the research economy and the linkages between the K–12 and higher education systems, focusing in each of these areas on the ways in which the organization of knowledge shapes—and is shaped by—political and social institutions in modern America.
He is the author of Between Citizens and the State: The Politics of American Higher Education in the Twentieth Century (Princeton University Press, 2012), winner of the 2013 American Educational Research Association Outstanding Book Award; and co-editor of The Convergence of K-12 and Higher Education: Policies and Programs in a Changing Era (Harvard Education Press, 2016), a study of the interplay of the K–12 and higher education sectors and its implications for future policymaking, practice, and education research. His current book project, Front and Center: Academic Expertise and its Challengers in the Post–1945 United States, traces the rise of interdisciplinary centers and their impact on professional life and on university development more broadly since World War II. Loss has held fellowships at the Miller Center of Public Affairs, the Brookings Institution, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. From 2010–12 he served on the Teagle Foundation’s National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education. In 2016 he was named a Chancellor Faculty Fellow at Vanderbilt University.
Loss has published articles and essays in the Journal of American History, Journal of Policy History, Social Science History, History of Education Quarterly, and the Journal of Military History, among others. He has organized and/or co-edited a number of special journal issues, most recently on the theme of Psychology, Politics, and Public Policy for the Journal of the History of Psychology. He has also written essays on current academic affairs for the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed, and is a regular commentator on education matters for a variety of media outlets.
Loss is an award-winning instructor. He offers courses in the undergraduate HOD major, in LPO’s professional and doctoral programs, and in the Peabody Scholars Program, where he teaches a first-year seminar titled Going to School in America. He directs the M.Ed. program in Higher Education Administration and is a past member of the Vanderbilt Faculty Senate.
Before arriving at Vanderbilt University, Loss was a research fellow in the Governance Studies Program at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. He also worked in academic administration for four years in the Office of the Vice President and Provost at the University of Virginia.
The Chronicle of Higher Education commentary - July 16, 2012: "Why the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act Still Matters"
Educational Researcher book review - June/July 2012, 41 (5): "Education, Free Speech, and the Fate of the Public"
HOD 2700: Public Policy (HOD)
PSCH 1110: Going to School in America (Peabody Scholars)
HEA 6020: Nature and Function of American Higher Education (M.Ed.)
HLP 8230: Advanced Nature and Function of American Higher Education (Ed.D.)
LPO 8100: History of K-12 and Higher Education (Ph.D.)