Faculty Profiles

Dr. Stephen Thornton

Professor Emeritus, social science education

Thorton headshot

Email: thornton@usf.edu
Phone: (813) 974-3533
Fax: (813) 974-3837


  • Bachelor of Arts (Honors) and Master of Arts in History, University Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia
  • Graduate Diploma of Education, Mitchell College of Advanced Education, Bathurst, Australia
  • Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in Social Studies Education, Stanford University, Stanford, California


Dr. Thornton's research interests are centered on how social studies teachers serve as curricular-instructional gatekeepers. He has investigated this topic through observational studies of classroom curriculum enactment, historical investigations of instructional programs, and reviews of research on classrooms.

His books include the award-winning Teaching Social Studies That Matters, five editions of The Curriculum Studies Reader (co-authored with David Flinders), and two editions of Teaching Social Studies to English Language Learners (co-authored with Bárbara Cruz) and Gateway to Social Studies (co-authored with Bárbara Cruz)

He has published more than 100 scholarly articles and chapters. Representative examples include:

  • "Can History Stand Alone? Drawbacks and Blindspots of a 'Disciplinary' Curriculum." (2010). Teachers College Record, 112, 2471-2495 (co-authored with Keith Barton)
  • "Borderlands of the Southwest: An Exercise in Geographical History." (2013). Social Education, 77, 353-356.
  • "A Concise Historiography of the Social Studies." (2017). In Meghan M. Manfra & Cheryl M. Bolick (E.), Wiley Handbook of Social Studies Research (pp. 7-41). Boston: Wiley-Blackwell.

Current Research Projects 

Dr. Thornton's current research is on the curricular integration of geography in American history courses.  


Courses Taught:

  • Trends in Secondary Social Science Education
  • The Study of American History and Geography
  • Research in Social Science Education
  • Philosophy of Social Science Education