Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 3-11-2019

Document Type



Pallesen, K. (2019). "Political Activism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Preserving the Land-Grant Mission." Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Katie Pallesen 2019.


I committed to my education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln without knowing the history of the University. In one of my introductory level history courses, I was challenged to write a research paper about anything related to Nebraska. With my dual interest in politics and history, I decided to dive into the history of political activism on the University campus. Although this initial project was small in scope, it laid the foundation for what my undergraduate thesis, presented here, is all about. After learning about the founding of UNL and its mission, I wanted to know: did the political activism on campus reflect the land-grant mission?

To answer this question, I created this historical analysis, compiled of three main case studies. First, I analyzed the response to the Japanese-American internment policy during the 1940s. Second, I researched the campus participation in the civil rights movement and anti-war movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Finally, I addressed a recent movement in response to a white nationalist on UNL’s campus, which took place in the spring semester of 2018. For each of these movements, I looked for activism from students, faculty, and the administration. I utilized the materials provided in the University Archives and Special Collections, as well as books and relevant articles to give national context. While this is not a completely exhaustive outline of responses to every political movement on campus, these three case studies provided a theme that the University students, faculty, and administration strive to live out the ideals of the land-grant mission through actions, not just words.