As of January 2017 Nichols is Director of the Oregon State University Center for the Humanities. He specializes in the history of the United States and its relationship to the rest of the world, particularly in the areas of isolationism, internationalism, and globalization. In addition to his work on the intellectual history of the U.S. role in the world, Nichols is an expert on modern U.S. intellectual, cultural, and political history, with an emphasis on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (1880-1920) through the present. Nichols is a 2016 Andrew Carnegie Fellow.
Before coming to Oregon State University, Nichols was the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in U.S. History, Department of History, University of Pennsylvania, and was Postdoctoral Fellow in U.S. History at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. Previously, he studied at Harvard College, Wesleyan University, and the University of Virginia, where he received his M.A. and Ph.D. in History (May 2008).
Nichols was deeply gratified to be honored as the Oregon State University Honors College Outstanding Professor of the Year for 2014, nominated and selected by students. He also was pleased to be nominated for the 2013 OSU Faculty Research Mentor of the Year Award. During his time as an instructor at UVa Nichols was honored to receive three awards for outstanding teaching, nominated and selected by both students and faculty. At Penn Nichols was nominated for two teaching awards.
Nichols has presented papers and published articles and opinion pieces in academic journals and newspapers on subjects including U.S. engagement with the world, transnationalism, the Spanish-American War, race and segregation, isolationism and internationalism, pacifism, WWI, progressivism, pluralism, trans-Atlantic liberal reform, the philosophy of history, neutrality legislation, deliberative democracy, anti-imperialism, interwar American political economy, the media and politics, religion and secular thought, secularization, the Monroe Doctrine, and the historical foundations of current American foreign policy. Nichols also is a frequent writer and commentator on current American foreign and domestic policy and on historical insights regarding contemporary political and diplomatic events.
At Oregon State Nichols teaches courses on the U.S. role in the world (1776-1898, 1898-present), isolationism and internationalism, religion and U.S. foreign relations, the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, international and transnational history, international relations and diplomacy, intellectual, cultural, and political history, and U.S. history since 1865. At Penn and UVa Nichols taught courses on isolationism and internationalism, the U.S. role in the world, the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, civil rights, American politics and culture since 1945, technology and world history (STS), international relations and diplomacy, intellectual, cultural, and political history.
Recently elected as a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Nichols is active in various professional societies including the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR), on several committees and as an appointed official society blogger, the Society for U.S. Intellectual History (S-USIH), and the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (SHGAPE), as the Society’s webmaster and web-content editor, and serves as a member of various SHGAPE Executive Council committees.
Dr. Nichols organized a path-breaking international conference and book project on "Rethinking Grand Strategy" at Oregon State in Corvallis, OR (May 12-16, 2016). The conference, which held panels and talks in Corvallis and Portland, was covered by C-SPAN and national as well as international media.
Nichols authored Promise and Peril: America at the Dawn of a Global Age (Harvard University Press, 2011, paperback 2015), and co-edited and co-authored, with Charles Mathewes, Prophesies of Godlessness: Predictions of America's Imminent Secularization from the Puritans to the Present Day (Oxford University Press, 2008). Nichols was Senior Editor, with David Milne, and Editor-in-chief Timothy Lynch, of the two-volume Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History (Oxford University Press, 2013).
Nichols and co-editor Nancy Unger recently completed the most up-to-date and comprehensive work on the state of the field of the history of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era: the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to the Gilded Age and Progressive Era: The Making of Modern America (forthcoming February 2017).
Dr. Nichols is at work on several new projects including a book on the election of 1952 and conservative visions for foreign relations in the early Cold War with Oxford University Press, tentatively entitled Republican Revival, and a sweeping study of "American Isolationism" and the historical development of ideas about isolation and the U.S. role in the world from the founders to the present.
With Elizabeth Borgwardt and Andrew Preston, Nichols is co-editing a book tentatively entitled Rethinking American Grand Strategy.
Nichols is helping to lead several new programming initiatives, including serving as Director of the OSU Center for the Humanities, which is the hub for interdisciplinary research, teaching, outreach, and engagement in the humanities at Oregon State University and aims to have wide community engagement in the Corvallis, Oregon, and Pacific NW communities, and beyond.
Since 2014 Nichols also has spearheaded a major multi-year interdisciplinary project on Citizenship and Crisis housed in the OSU School of History, Philosophy, and Religion, drawing on faculty, staff, and students from across the College of Liberal Arts, around OSU, and beyond.
Please contact Nichols directly for more information about the OSU Center for the Humanities or about the OSU Citizenship and Crisis Initiative.
Selected Recent Honors and Awards:
Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, Carnegie Corporation of New York (2016)
Bill and Caroline Wilkins Faculty Development Award, Oregon State University, College of Liberal Arts (September 2015)
Elected permanent (life) member of the Council on Foreign Relations (June 2015)
Roger D. Bridges Distinguished Service Award, Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (April 2015)
Emerging Scholar Award, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Oregon State University (May 2015)
Oregon State University Honors College Professor of the Year 2014 (June 2014)
Nominee, Oregon State University Faculty Mentor of the Year 2013