Photo of Dr. Charles C. Bonwell

Dr. Charles C. Bonwell, Ph.D.

Office: Department of  History

If you look up "history teacher" in the dictionary it will refer you to Chuck Bonwell. Long before there was a national movement for the improvement of instruction in history, there was Bonwell encouraging the department -- and anyone else who would listen -- in developing better teaching techniques.

From 1959 to 1962, Bonwell served as an Air Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Navy and continued that service in the Naval Reserve until his retirement as a Captain in 1982. After earning an M.S. in engineering at Stanford University1 and an M.A in History at San Jose State College, Bonwell earned a Ph.D. at Kansas State University, specializing in the history of science and technology. At Southeast he pursued that interest by teaching about technology2.

By 1978, his passion for teaching began to take center stage in his career. He founded the College of Social Sciences Ad Hoc Committee for the Enhancement of Teaching, chaired the College Faculty Development Committee, coordinated workshops, and chaired the University Teaching Enhancement Committee. From 1983 to 1986, Bonwell led the Department of History -- people still talk about the retreat in Earth City! In 1990, he ended his full-time service in the department when he assumed the directorship of Southeast's Center for Teaching and Learning (now the CSTL).

While at Southeast Bonwell developed an international reputation for his efforts to improve teaching. The American Association for Higher Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching named him as one of fifty educators who provided "extraordinary educational leadership." He was one of five historians chosen to develop and present teaching/learning workshops by the Organization of American History FIPSE Project. Bonwell founded and presided over the Intellectual Skills Development Association, edited its newsletter, and was on the editorial board for their journal.

Bonwell's list of publications is numerous with several books, a dozen articles published, more than two dozen presentations delivered all over the world, and countless workshops. Between 1987-1993, he conducted teaching workshops at forty colleges and universities and in the last eight years at seventy-four more. One book, Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom (1991), is still extensively used.

Retirement from Southeast in 1993 meant a new challenge, not a rocking chair. From 1993 to 1998 Bonwell was the director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy. Following that retirement, Bonwell and his wife Marcia moved to Green Mountain Falls, Colorado so he could be near his beloved mountains. Bonwell is still very active in the scholarly community sharing his expertise on active learning. He has his own web site at:

To learn more, go to:

1 Some say he gave up engineering as a profession after he took his toilet apart and then could not put it back together.
2 He was the first historian at Southeast to own a computer


Fax: 573.651.5114
Carnahan Hall 311
Department of History
One University Plaza, MS 2960
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701