Reason Podcast

Renegade University's Thaddeus Russell Wants To Blow Your Mind

This historian and online-education entrepreneur says runaway slaves, ladies of the evening, bootleggers, and other dropouts and discontents made America free.


"It's time for a revolution in higher education. It's time for a renegade university."

That's the sales pitch for Thaddeus Russell's Renegade University (RU), a radical, innovative experiment in higher education that is inspired by his 2010 book A Renegade History of the United States. Russell argues that it wasn't the Founding Fathers, straight-laced business tycoons, or moral crusaders that made America great, but runaway slaves, ladies of the evening, bootleggers, and assorted other dropouts and discontents who defined and created our freedom. In online courses and events held around the country, Russell, a Columbia-trained historian, who has taught at Barnard, Occidental, and other colleges, and his faculty offer bracing, engaging alternative takes on U.S. history, political philosophy, postmodernism, the war on terror, and more. Russell also hosts the Unregistered Podcast

He spoke with Nick Gillespie while visiting New York to participate in a Reason/Soho Forum debate about postmodernism and libertarianism.

To read Thaddeus Russell's Reason archive, go here.

Last fall, he debated legal blogger Ken White at a Reason event about censorship and social-media platforms.

Audio production by Ian Keyser.