John L. Puckett

Professor of Education

Education, Culture, and Society Division

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania

Phone: 215-898-7389


Professional Biography

Dr. Puckett’s background includes six years of teaching and administrative work in public and private secondary schools in North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. He holds a Ph.D. in education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before coming to Penn in 1987, Dr. Puckett was director of research and development for REAL Enterprises, a non-profit organization that helped catalyze school-based economic development projects in the rural South. He served as associate dean of the Graduate School of Education from 1998 to 2004, and again in 2006-07; he chaired the School’s Educational Leadership Division in 1999-2000, and the Education Policy Division from 2007-11; and he served on the school’s Executive Committee for eleven years.  His GSE courses and seminars include American education reform: history, policy, and practice; education and the American City; and John Dewey. 

Since coming to Penn, Dr. Puckett has been actively involved in building University partnerships with West Philadelphia schools; from 1988 to 1992, he worked with Ira Harkavy to develop the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Community Partnerships, now called the Netter Center. In conjunction with the Netter Center and the School of Arts and Sciences’s Urban Studies Program, he teaches undergraduate academically-based community service seminars that focus on school- and neighborhood-improvement projects in West Philadephia. He has co-authored a number of journal articles and book chapters with Arts and Sciences faculty affiliated with the Netter Center, advancing the development of university-assisted community schools and academically-based community service.

Research Interests and Current Projects

Dr. Puckett is the author of Foxfire Reconsidered: A Twenty-Year Experiment in Progressive Education (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989), co-author of Leonard Covello and the Making of Benjamin Franklin High School: Education As If Citizenship Mattered (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2007), and co-author of Dewey’s Dream: Universities and Democracies in an Age of Education Reform (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2007). He is currently co-authoring a book and a series of articles on the history of the University of Pennsylvania since World War II, giving particular attention to the concept of the “urban renewal university” and Penn’s complex relationship with West Philadelphia.  

Dr. Puckett serves on various university, community, public school, and citywide advisory boards and task forces; one of his recent projects was a successful five-year community-organizing effort to build a new West Philadelphia High School. In 1991–92, Dr. Puckett was designated a Spencer Foundation/National Academy of Education postdoctoral fellow; his study centered on the history of the community school idea from 1886 to the present. In 1996–97, he was designated a Fulbright Scholar to Germany, where he lectured in American Studies at the Otto-von-Guericke-Universität in Magdeburg. He is currently a Distinguished Fellow of the Netter Center. His other current projects include leadership roles in Penn GSE’s Masters Residency Program and GSE’s India Shakthi Initiative, conducted with the Head Held High Foundation in Bangalore.  Dr. Puckett is also a frequent Bodek Lecturer for the University.       

Selected Publications

Puckett, J.L., & M.F. Lloyd:Martin Meyerson’s dream of “one university”: The Penn presidency, 1970-81, and beyond.Journal of Planning History10 (2011): 193-218.

Puckett, J. L., Benson, L., & Harkavy, I.: Dewey’s Dream: Universities and Democracies in an Age of Education Reform. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2007.

Puckett, J. L., & Johanek, M. C.:Leonard Covello and the Making of Benjamin Franklin High School: Education as if Citizenship Mattered.Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2007.

Puckett, J. L.: The state of civic education: Preparing citizens in an era of accountability. Institutions of Democracy: The Public Schools. M. Lazerson & S. Fuhrman (eds.). New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Puckett, J. L., Benson, L., & Harkavy, I.: An implementation revolution as a strategy for fulfilling the democratic promise of university-community partnerships: Penn-West Philadelphia as an experiment in progress. Special issue of Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 29(1): 24-45, 2000.

Puckett, J. L., & Forgey, E.: History as public work. Service Learning and the Disciplines: Current Developments in Historical Scholarship. I. Harkavy & A. Donovan (eds.). Washington, D.C.: American Association of Higher Education, 2000.

Puckett, J. L., Harkavy, I., & Romer, D.: Action research as an approach for improving service, teaching and research. Special issue of Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning: 113-18, Fall 2000.

Puckett, J. L., & Harkavy, I.: University-assisted community schools and strategic academically-based community service. Reforming Education from the Bottom to the Top. Evans Clinchy (eds.). Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, Page: 150-170, 1999.

Puckett, J. L., & Harkavy, I.: The action research tradition in American social science: Toward a strategy for revitalizing the social sciences, the university and the American city. Action, Research: From Practice to Writing in an International Action Research Development Program. D. Greenwood (eds.). Philadelphia: John Benjamins, Page: 147-167, 1999.

Puckett, J. L., & Harkavy, I.:Lessons from Hull House for the contemporary urban university. Social Service Review 68(3): 299-321, 1994.

Puckett, J.L.:Foxfire Reconsidered: A Twenty-Year Experiment in Progressive Education.Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989.