Joel has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Superior since 1994, with a focus on U.S. and Latin American History. He is a passionate believer in the transformative power of learning and encourages his students to think in deep and meaningful ways about the big questions in the field of History. His ultimate goal is for students to become empowered to make their own sense of the complex and oftentimes troubling world that we live in. He received his Ph.D. in U.S. History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he studied the relationship between race and class in the construction of the modern political system of the American South.
Joel is a guitarist whose proudest moments include the live outdoor performance of the Who’s Tommy LP that he participated in on the UW-Superior campus. He previously served on the Duluth, Minnesota City Council.
As is befitting his role as a faculty member at a public university campus that emphasizes excellence in undergraduate education, Joel’s primary scholarly focus has been in the scholarship of teaching and learning. He is co-editor of the Debating American History series published by Oxford University Press, which makes available course materials to support argument-based undergraduate History courses – courses in which students are asked to consider the merits of rival scholarly positions on important questions in the field and to argue for their own conclusions on the basis of historical evidence. He has also published a series of articles exploring late nineteenth-century Louisiana politics with an emphasis on the relationship between race and class in the construction of the one-party system that dominated southern politics for most of the twentieth century.
- 2012 – Maryellen Weimer Scholarly Work on Teaching and Learning Award
- 2011 – Award granted for the article, “The End of the History Survey: The Rise and Fall of the Coverage Model.” (with David J. Voelker) Journal of American History (97)
- 2000 – Wisconsin Teaching Fellow, University of Wisconsin System
- 1997 – Teaching Performance Award, University of Wisconsin-Superior
- 1993 – Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) – United States History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- 1989 – Master of Arts (M.A.) – United States History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- 1986 – Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) – History, Princeton University