James Ford headshot

James Thomas Ford, Ph.D.

Senior Lecturer, CLI
+1 507 258 8032
(507) 258-8066


Ph.D., History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2000
M.A., History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1992
B.A., History, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1990

Though grounded in the field of history, I employ any discipline at my disposal, any tool available, any technological aid that will help unravel the human drama of history. In exploring the breadth of humanity—and sometimes, sadly, the depth of inhumanity—the sky’s the limit.


Before finding an academic home at the Center for Learning Innovation (UMR), I had developed and taught a variety of lower and upper division courses on history and religious studies for Marian College of Fond du Lac, Viterbo University, and the University of Maryland University College-Europe. I published articles and book reviews on Reformation and Early Modern Germany, organized and chaired panel discussions, and presented papers at historical conferences in Germany and the U.S. I took a break from academic pursuits to serve as a U.S. Army intelligence and security officer in Afghanistan. Currently, at UMR, I incorporate a global and historical perspective into the BSHS curriculum. I am specifically designing courses with topics that allow students to examine and gain a degree of familiarity with both Western and non-Western cultures throughout the world.


My ultimate goal as an instructor in the humanities is to help students think, read and write critically about the complexities of the human experience. I provide them the tools with which they can establish a frame of reference, formulate their own questions, and seek answers to those questions. My intention is that they come out of the course mindful that history is essentially about interpretation. The course curriculum, ever the product of experimentation, equips students to draw meaningful connections between the past and present. The learning process puts the instructor and students on a path, an adventure full of twists and turns; together we are wayfarers trying to make sense of it all. In the end, I see myself as a facilitator of knowledge, offering UMR students expertise in the field of history and a variety of methods to examine the primary and secondary sources.


My doctoral work and earlier research focused on the interplay of confessional conflict and imperial politics in Reformation Germany. I have broadened my scope a bit and have given more attention in recent years to the darker side of humanity. My research now examines instances of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Early Modern Europe (c. 1500-c. 1800). Important in my assessment of eyewitness accounts is the appropriation of recent studies on evil and modern genocide from the social, behavioral, and biological sciences. I’m working on a comparative analysis of such infamous events as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in 1572, the Siege of Magdeburg in 1631, and the Vendée Revolt in 1793. Finally, I’m also developing teaching methods and strategies to communicate more responsibly and effectively the lessons we can glean from such atrocities.

Select Publications and Abstracts

James Thomas Ford, “Unter dem schein der concordien und confession: Wolfgang Musculus and the Confessional Identity of Augsburg, 1531-1548,” in R. Dellsperger et al., eds., Wolfgang Musculus (1497-1563) und die oberdeutsche Reformation (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1997), 111-29.

James Thomas Ford, “Wolfgang Musculus on the Office of the Christian Magistrate,” in Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 91 (2000): 149-67.

James Thomas Ford, “Preaching in the Reformed Tradition,” in Larissa J. Taylor, ed., Preacher and Audience: The Social History of Preaching in the Reformation and Early Modern Period (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2001), 65-88.