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Christopher P. Loss

Associate Professor of Public Policy and Higher Education, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Associate Professor of History, Department of History

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 how the organization of knowledge shapes—and is shaped by—political and social institutions in modern America.    

His current book project, Front and Center: Academic Expertise and its Challengers in the Post–1945 United States (under contract with University of Pennsylvania Press), traces the rise of interdisciplinary centers and their impact on academic life, university development, and political and public policy debates since World War II. He has published several articles previewing the larger study in the Journal of Urban History (2021) and in Modern American History (2022).

Loss is also 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; 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; and co-editor of Robert’s Rules of Order, and Why It Matters for Colleges and Universities Today (Princeton University Press, 2021).

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. From 2016–18 he was a Chancellor Faculty Fellow at Vanderbilt University. In 2023 he won Peabody College’s Distinguished Faculty Award.

Loss has published articles and essays in the Journal of American HistoryJournal of Policy HistorySocial Science HistoryJournal of the History of Psychology, History of Education Quarterly, and Journal of Military History, among others. He has also written essays on current academic affairs for the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed.

Loss is an award-winning instructor. He teaches in the undergraduate HOD major, in LPO’s professional and doctoral programs, and in the College of Arts & Science. He is a former director of the M.Ed. program in Higher Education Administration and previously served on 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.