Emile Lester



Ph. D., University of Virginia

Areas of specialization:

  • Political Philosophy
  • Research Methods
  • Religion and Politics
  • Presidency
  • American History


Scholarly achievements:

Professor Lester’s book Teaching Religions: A Democratic Approach for Public Schools is published by University of Michigan Press. For details, see http://press.umich.edu/titleDetailDesc.do?id=2180004.

Professor Lester is the author of the forthcoming book, Liberalism and Leadership, to be published by University of Michigan Press in 2019. The book examines Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.’s views on what qualifies as a successful liberal presidency, and examines the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.

Recipient of substantial research grant from Religious Freedom Center (RFC) at the Newseum for his 2017-2019 evaluation of the Georgia 3Rs project. The RFC selected Professor Lester as the official evaluator of this important initiative to encourage religious literacy and respect for religious freedom in Georgia’s and the nation’s public schools. By the project’s conclusion, Professor Lester and his research associates will have interviewed approximately 100 religious, civic, and educational communities from a diverse array of religious, national, and racial groups in various parts of Georgia.

Professor Lester is the author of “A Triumph of Ideology Over Ideas: A Review of U.S. Government Grade 12 Textbooks in Texas,” a 25-page report published online in September 2014 and circulated to the media and textbook publishers by the Texas Freedom Network (TFN), and two other reports on biases and inaccuracies in Texas social studies textbooks and standards issued by the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). Excerpts from the report received extensive national and international media coverage     including the Washington Post, Politico, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Reuters, Salon, MSNBC.com, The Raw Story, The Huffington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Education Week, and a large number of additional regional and local newspapers. In response to Professor Lester’s work, publishers eliminated two racially offensive cartoons on the subject of affirmative action, and eliminated or modified inaccurate and biased material related to the U.S. tradition of the separation of church and state. A review of Mexican American Heritage intended for elective courses on Mexican American history, which included Professor Lester’s work, led the Texas SBOE to reject use of this problematic textbook in Texas public schools.

Co-authored research report on religion in public education published by First Amendment Center which was featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The American Interest, USA Today, on C-Span, on NPR, and in various other media outlets around the nation.

Professor Lester is the author of four published book chapters including “Is Democracy for Religion in Public Schools Possible?” published in The Oxford Handbook on Religion and Education (Oxford University Press).
Numerous articles in scholarly journals including The Review of Politics, Polity, Journal of Church and State, Politics and Religion, and Public Affairs Quarterly.

•Recipient of 2019-2021 Waple Professorship.
•Recipient of 2010-2011 Jepson Fellowship.
•Member of the editorial board of the peer-reviewed journal, Religion & Education.

To view a guest blog by Professor Lester about his book on the Washington Post’s website, see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/political-bookworm/post/a-path-to-religion-in-the-classroom/2011/03/08/ABwNKy7_blog.html.


To send e-mail to Professor Lester: elester@umw.edu