About

I’m Kevin Gannon, and I serve as Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) and Professor of History at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. I’m a total geek for History, pedagogy, and technology–particularly where the three intersect. I’m in higher education because I believe in its emancipatory and democratizing potential, and I’ll gladly join anyone advocating for those things at the barricades.

My scholarly passions are nineteenth-century history (particularly the United States and the Americas), historiography and theory, and critical pedagogy. My teaching ranges widely: Civil War and Reconstruction; Colonial America and the Atlantic World; Latin American history; Research Methods and Historiography; and the History of Capitalism are in my regular rotation, along with our survey-level offerings in US history and the Medieval World. I also work with first-year and at-risk students, which is some of the most rewarding stuff I’ve done in my career. I am a consultant and speaker for a range of topics, listed below, and have been invited to give presentations and facilitate workshops at campuses and conferences throughout the United States. In this work, I endeavor to bring passion, humor, and interactivity to my audiences. I am also delighted to work with smaller groups of students, individual classes, or selected groups of faculty and staff on these campus visits.

In my current role, I work closely with my colleagues in the faculty, staff, and administration to promote excellence and innovation in teaching. I’m a fierce advocate for professional development, active learning, scholarly teaching, good technology, social justice, movable furniture, and humor in any environment.


Presentations, Training, and Workshops: I give talks and facilitate workshops across the country and enjoy working with groups of students, faculty, and staff. My primary areas of expertise and experience are:

  • the Americas in the nineteenth century, particularly the US Civil War and Reconstruction Eras.
  • race, history, and diversity
  • integrating teaching and technology
  • online teaching and learning

Additionally, I can speak and facilitate sessions on a range of pedagogical topics like course design, flipped learning, teaching with primary sources, and inclusive pedagogy. I’m always excited for opportunities to share experiences and perspectives with colleagues.

You can hear my recent conversation on the Teaching in Higher Ed Podcast (August 4, 2016) HERE

For queries, scheduling, and rates, please feel free to contact me at 515.263.6102 or kgannon@grandview.edu (references available on request)

Click HERE for my current c.v.

[Photo by Takahiro Omura, Grinnell College Scarlet and Black]


I appeared in 13th, a Netflix original documentary directed by Ava DuVernay

Democracy Now featured the film, and the issues it poses, on Oct. 3; Malkia Cyril and I were interviewed by Amy Goodman on Oct. 3, 2016.

On the day after the film’s premiere at the New York Film Festival, I had the honor to participate in a panel discussion with Khalil G. Muhammad, Jelani Cobb, Malkia Cyril, and Ashley Clark. You can see the session here:

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29 thoughts on “About”

    1. Hey, thanks! This blog is me trying to avoid falling into the trap of cynicism and burnout, which is tough to do in academe. I did do my PhD in SC, so I’ve had my fill of those southern summers, though. 🙂

  1. I devoured your rant on the flag. As is my wont, I read past the end. Does your copyright prevent me sharing on FB? My circle is Dems/Liberals/atheists. Your words would be welcomed with open arms (and some hugs and kisses). You should read a few of my posts, just for assurance.

    Thanking you in advance,
    Norma Cartwright
    Lebanon Oregon

    1. I’d imagine that “feel free to cut/paste, and deploy as needed” constitutes “express and written permission from this blog’s author”, and also note that sharing the link via FB is expressly included in the copyright statement.

  2. I read your flag piece. As a southerner from Alabama and a thinking man, what’s the difference in flying the Confederate Flag with its history and pledging our allegiance to the American Flag after invading Iraq, which resulted in 500,000 dead Iraqis? The U.S. has invaded countries and has installed its own dictators all over the world even in democratically-elected countries like Iran and in central America. Please explain.

    1. Unbelievable! Doesn’t appear as though Ted even read through the ‘flag piece’ — but he does report to be a thinking man. So he’s got that working for him.

      Prof. Gannon — I loved your ‘flag piece’…. I’ve been posting and sharing too. Spot on!!

    2. Because when someone engages in atrocities in the name of the American flag, they are failing to live up to its ideals, which specifically stated that all are created equal, and entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For all the trouble that we as a nation–including its founders–have had living up to that, those are still the ideals. The Confederate States of America specifically put language into their founding documents that *insisted* that non-whites were unequal and considered inferior, and prevented abolition from ever occurring: Article 1, Section 9(4) says “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.” The flag is a symbol of a nation that formed specifically to protect and entrench slavery and bigotry as a way of life. So when someone engages in racist hate crimes, they are in fact *living up* to the Confederate flag’s ideals, not failing them.

    3. Perhaps nothing, but the point of the essay was: the Confederate flag is steeped in a history of racism. So, as a southern thinking man, do not try to delete that history. A major difference between the US and the Confederacy: the Confederacy was founded in large part to keep horrific practices of racial subordination legal. The US his fought a long battle – with a lot of work left – to undo that legacy. The US ratified the 13, 14 and 15th Amendments. The former Confederate states immediately conspired to negate these (and were successful to a substantial degree). The US must accept its history of racism, etc., just as the South must do.

  3. Kevin,

    Your treatise on the Confederate flag was supremely well done! I shared your article (and open letter) on my Facebook page. Thank you for saying what needed to be said!

    Sincerely,

    — E.J. (a fan!)

  4. Fantastic article on the flag. Educators that can make people laugh are a national treasure. Thank you for being alive and teaching.

    PS – congratulations on your induction to the illustrious list of race traitors. We’re all proud of ya.

  5. I am not a southerner by birth nor am I a flag waver/ owner. But I found your flag article extremely shortsighted. As you made extraordinary effort to preach about how qualified you are as a civil war historian, it made reading your article even harder to digest. The civil war was not about slavery and anyone who actually reads history and studies it know that that was only a mere fraction of the issues between the north and south. The economics of trade and wealth between the agricultural south and the manufacturing north had far more to do with it. We all know that taxation and trade restrictions played a much larger role and that slavery was a piece thrown in to tip,the balance of the scales. Your comment on the ” battle flag” of the confederacy didn’t mention the other flags that also flew such as the Bonnie blue and that the stars and bars were from the army of Virginia that was used by some and not all. That the ” confederate flag” was never officially used as the flag of the south. Nor did you mention that the flag was fine in its meaning until,the 1950’s when some skin heads and the KKK DISTORTED its meaning as they were the ones who turned it from a flag of freedom from any type of oppression into a flag of hate and racism. ” Professor”, in times of tragedy because we cannot make sense of it, we try to rationalize it and the most common way we rationalize is by assigning blame- we blame bars for serving alcohol to drunks who,kill people,in cars, we blame guns, we blame flags.. When in fact the blame is clearly, in this case, of a lunatic. Sir I offer this- we’ve banned drugs yet they are everywhere, we can try to ban guns , then only criminals will have them, we can ban a piece of colored fabric but racism that is harbored by a very few will unfortunately not be eradicated . The most disturbing piece of you letter was your ” I will not debate” statements. That only means you have an opinion and are not open to any real discussion. Which For an educator is simply appalling. For how can we educate anyone if we are not,willing to openly discuss matters And allow both sides and other opinions to be heard. Your letter sounded much like,obama’s ” the debate” is over speeches – again shortsighted. -again I remind you I’m a northerner living in the south who does not fly any flag. You may as you claim be ” fiercely passionate” but I contend you are also,fiercely opinionated which unfortunately doesn’t jive in the education world..

    1. I think he made pretty clear that he “will not be a sherpa for your climb up stupid mountain.” And, it’s not an academic journal, white paper or any other publishing medium appropriate for debate. It’s called a blog, which, for your edification, is an online joural or diary. If you want to debate, discuss or dialog, there are appropriate places for that. Find ’em.

    2. Claim to be a non-player in the debate? Check
      Ignore his request to abstain from commenting? Check
      Take the opportunity to regurgitate every right-wing argument that helped to fuel the murderous asshole (not lunatic) who lies at the center of this debate? Check

      TROLL? Check

  6. Your piece on the flag was fabulous, and you’re absolutely right not to get into any further discussion of it. Aside from the fact that it doesn’t need any discussion, refusing to debate it will drive the maniacs even crazier — bravo!

  7. Just read your “I Will Not Argue About the Confederate Flag” post and just had to thank you for it. Much needed these days. It’s very, very appreciated. Thank you!

  8. Mr. Gannon,

    If you did not want to engage, then why did you even write this? Granted, this is your webpage and you can say what you want; but you are using this as an opportunity to “toot” your own horn and to display YOUR OWN PERSONAL BIAS with your interpretation of history. I am not a supporter of the Confederate Flag, but I do feel that this brief glimpse of you indicates that you are not as qualified as you may think to teach Civil War History.

  9. Sir,

    I would like to thank you for you article/blog post and open letter. As a former citizen of SC, you understand the wanton ignorance there and history better than some of your commenter’s.

    Thank you again!

  10. Prof,

    I’m one, too. Just read your blog page on this current issue. It’s one of the most arrogant, dismissive, vacuous, pompous things I’ve ever heard come from an educator.

    You’ll forgive the rest of us who refuse to make the climb up Mr. Arrogant with you.

    Dylann Roof hijacks a symbol (controversial and multi-faceted) from history and so now it must be eradicated from anywhere that it may offend. The only sensible thing to do.

    ISIS has hijacked a religion (controversial and multi-faceted) from history so… Islam must be wiped out?

    Canines enjoyed supreme social status in Hilter’s Third Reich. Time to put them all down, especially the German Shepherds used by those ‘paramilitary bastards’ on the police force. Symbols of hate and oppression- they were turned on Jews, after all.

    Murderer Charles Manson was inspired by the music of The Beatles “White Album” (Helter Skelter) as well as the New Testament’s Book of Revelation. Do we whitewash the ‘fab four’ and their music? Someone’s surely offended. What of Revelations?

    Professor, Any ideology that needs to attack the thing that least threatens it is an ideology that will not outlive its own generation. In your case, I find that a comfort.

  11. How is it that I spent 2009-20014 in and around Des Moines environs and out paths did not cross? I must have been moving in (the wrong) circles. Enjoying your stuff.

  12. KG: The U of Chicago letter to incoming freshmen was one that every school should be sending out. You mock Friedman and hate Murray – simply because you disagree with their views – your recent commentary says more about you than Dean Ellison and the University of Chicago.

  13. WOW!!! I just watched 13th…..as an Australian we aren’t taught much in the way of American History; we do hear about current issues via the news but this is eye opening.
    I am asking all my friends to watch 13th to have a better understanding…..
    Australian History of treating the Indigenous isn’t much better really; I am currently studying and have taken Indigenous studies as my minor and I am shocked by the way Indigenous Australians have been treated.
    Perhaps it is time that we all get our heads out of the sand and make a stand for what is RIGHT.

  14. Thank you so much for putting this information out there. As an college educated black man, I shudder when I look back and remember hardly any of this history in 13th was taught to me. I was raised in the south, in a county that has it in the name Dixie County. I have face racism and marginalization all my life and most people that meet me for the first time thought I was jumping at shadows. Thanks for providing me even more information to digest and direct people towards for enlightenment.

    1. I second this “thank you”. I just watched “13th” and was mesmerized by your logic and facts. I grew up white in Georgia, and always knew there was a problem with the way black people were treated. And for those who say “We don’t have any racism here,” you’re sadly mistaken. Racism still exists. I now understand how my ancestors contributed to the problem, and I’m doing what I can do rectify the situation. #blacklivesmatter

  15. Hello Prof,
    Currently watching 13th on Netflix and I am almost positive you were a professor that I had at the University of Houston around 2001-2003. If you are, just wanted to say hello and that your class was awesome and still remember your enthusiasm in class. So was that you? Thanks
    -Wendy

  16. Hi Wendy!
    Yes, that was me–have a few more tattoos since then, and I teach at a small college in Iowa now. I taught at UH in the Spring and Fall of 2001, and really enjoyed my time there. Thanks for dropping the note–I love to hear from former students. I hope you are well!

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