Vision & Change: A Regional Study of Student Activism in the American Midwest 1960-1964

Ryan Fallon, Fordham University


This paper analyzes the rise of the student movement in the early years of the American New Left from 1960-1964. More specifically, this paper serves as an analysis of student activism in defense of civil liberties prior to the Free Speech Movement in 1964, on three midwestern campuses: The University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champagne) and the University of Wisconsin (Madison). I demonstrate that student activists applied the “direct action” of their participation in protests in the Civil Rights Movement and against American militarism in the early 1960s to their burgeoning campus rebellion, through the organization of protests, rallies, and marches, as well as advancing their political causes through various student literature and campus newspapers. These youth driven political movements sought to radically change a society they saw as undemocratic and discriminatory, while also utilizing their political outreach beyond their campus borders in reforming their communities. A study of student activism for civil liberties between 1960-1964 will provide insight into the early formative era of student rebellion and bridge the gap of student activism between the McCarthy period of the 1950s and the radical protest of the late 1960s.

Subject Area

American history|American studies|Political science

Recommended Citation

Fallon, Ryan, "Vision & Change: A Regional Study of Student Activism in the American Midwest 1960-1964" (2023). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30246673.