Bard Faculty

Michelle Hoffman

Visiting Assistant Professor of the Humanities; Faculty, Bard Prison Initiative

Academic Program Affiliation(s): First-Year Seminar, Philosophy


B.Sc., Concordia University; M.A., Ph.D., University of Toronto; Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in History and Philosophy of Science, American University of Central Asia (2013–15) and Bard College (2015–16). Professor Hoffman is a historian of science and education whose current research examines pedagogical approaches to critical thinking, particularly in the United States and Great Britain from the 1920s to the 1960s. During this period, many educators and psychologists took up the cause of formal instruction in “clear thinking” as a key element in preparing young people for democratic citizenship. Her research explores these efforts to teach thinking skills to young pupils and how they drew on wider worries bout the dangers of mass suggestibility and irrational thought. She has taught in the Language and Thinking Program at Bard and is a faculty associate at the Institute for Writing and Thinking.

Selected publications include: “Just a Theory: The Atomic Theory Debate and High School Chemistry Teaching, 1905–1917,” Historical Studies of the Natural Sciences (2017); “Shunning the Bird’s Eye View: The Adoption of General Science in Quebec and Ontario Secondary Schools,” in Science & Education; “Learning in the Lab: The Introduction of ‘Practical’ Science Teaching in Ontario’s High Schools in the 1880s,” in Learning by Doing: Experiments and Instruments in the History of Science Teaching (Stuttgart: Verlag, 2011); and “Longevity in a Bottle? Aging and Rejuvenation in Medicine and Literature,” in Ideas: The Arts and Science Review. Her current project is “Teaching How to Think: Thinking Skills and Civic Engagement, 1920–1960.” At Bard since 2015.


Phone: 845-752-4410
Department: Bard Prison Initiative
Location: Albee
Office: B107