Reform Movements in America

This course will be held via Zoom.

Dr. Ian Drake, Associate Professor of Political Science and LawMontclair State University

5 Wednesdays, 10am – 12pm

Sep 21, 28; Oct 12, 19, 26.  No class on Oct 5 (Yom Kippur).

This is a five-week series of talks about reform movements in American history.  Each week we will consider a different reform movement, especially the problems reformers sought to address, the methods of organization, and the goals and obstacles facing the movement.

The Civil Rights Movement

In this introductory talk, we will review the origins of the Civil Rights Movement, from its earliest days at the end of the Civil War through the 1960s (and beyond).  We will consider the well-known and more obscure elements and goals of the movement, and address whether it achieved all of its members’ goals.

The Temperance Movement

The problem of alcohol addiction has been pervasive in world history but in the United States, beginning in the 19th century, it became the basis for a dedicated reform movement in Western Europe and North America.  We will review the outsized personalities leading this movement, like Carrie Nation, and the benefits and drawbacks of Prohibition from 1919-1933.

The Women’s Rights Movement

The legal and social status of women in America has caused dissent, debate, and organized reform efforts since the earliest days of the Republic.  In this talk, we will review the history of efforts to achieve political, social, and economic reforms that would change the status of women in American society.  

Elections Reform

Since the beginning of the United States, elections have been a source of pride for Americans but also a subject of dispute and sometimes armed conflict.  In the late 19th and throughout the 20th centuries various reform movements have sought to change the way elections and voting, in general, are conducted.  We will consider the different goals of these movements and analyze how successful they have been.

The Animal Rights Movement

In this final talk in the series, we will consider the arguments about whether animals have rights and to what degree the law should protect animals.  We will consider different kinds of animals, including wild animals, domestic pets, and animals used in agricultural production.  We will consider whether anti-cruelty laws provide sufficient protection and whether animals should be able to bring lawsuits (or suits filed on their behalf) for mistreatment.

Dr. Ian DrakeisAssociate Professor of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University.  He obtained his B.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill, his J.D. from the University of Richmond, and a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Maryland at College Park. His teaching interests include the American judiciary and legal system, the U.S. Supreme Court and constitutional history, the history and contemporary study of law and society, broadly construed, and political theory. His recent research interests include the history of American constitutional law and private law, particularly tort and contract law. 

Dr. Drake is currently conducting research on animal protection laws, First Amendment rights, and the politics of the treatment of animals used in industrial agriculture and scientific research. Prior to earning his Ph.D. in history, Dr. Drake practiced law in the areas of insurance and tort law.  His many publications include articles in scholarly journals, contributions to book chapters, and book reviews.  

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