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Arkansas and Regional Studies

Head, Heart, and Hand
John Brown University and Modern Evangelical Higher Education

Rick Ostrander
With a Foreword by George Marsden

A history reconnecting Christianity to higher education

Traveling evangelist John Brown believed that conventional colleges had become elitist and morally suspect, so he founded a small utopian college in 1919 to better combine evangelical Christianity and higher education. Historian Rick Ostrander places John Brown University in the long tradition of Christian education, but he also shows that evangelicalism had largely separated from mainstream higher education by the twentieth century. This engaging and objective history explores how John Brown University has adapted to modern American culture while maintaining its evangelical character.

Brown set out to educate the poor, rural children of the Ozarks who had no other opportunity for schooling. He wanted to instill in them not only religious zeal but also his conception of what constituted significant work, namely manual labor. His concern with practical work is evident today in programs for broadcasting, engineering, teacher education, and business. His sons made academic excellence an institutional priority and gradually transformed the school into an accredited, respected liberal arts college.

Head, Heart, and Hand deftly connects the story of John Brown University to the larger currents of American education and religion.

“A solid contribution to a historical understanding of religiously oriented higher education in the South. . . .”

—Randal Hall, author of William Louis Poteat: A Leader in the Progressive-Era South (Kentucky, 2000)

6" X 9"
256 pages
$39.95, cloth (s)
978-1-55728-761-8 | 1-55728-761-9

Rick Ostrander is the dean of undergraduate studies at John Brown University. He is also the author of The Life of Prayer in a World of Science: Protestants, Prayer, and American Culture, 1870–1930 (Oxford, 2000).

George Marsden is Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. His many books include The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief (Oxford, 1996).



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