Mark A. Castillo Program: Higher Education, Ed.D.

Anticipated Graduation: May 2023

Philadelphia, PA

Professional Biography

Mark Castillo is an Ed.D. student in the Higher Education Division and Program Coordinator for the University of Pennsylvania International Relations Program.

Mark's interests lie in higher education and American history -- social, political, and intellectual. Before coming to Penn, he earned two postgraduate degrees in the United Kingdom, from the University of Edinburgh and the War Studies Department of King's College London. He authored and taught three iterations of INTR-290-602, "Secret Intelligence in American Democracy, 1776 to Present." And alongside Frank Plantan, Co-Director of the IR Program, has co-taught several offerings of "Counterintelligence," named by Penn's student-run newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, as one of Penn's "most wanted" classes.

Research Interests and Current Projects

19th & 20th Century History, America and Europe
Higher Education
Social History
Political History
Intellectual History

"On the Slain Collegians": American Higher Education and the Coming of the Civil War

The American Civil War claimed the lives of 620,000 soldiers, roughly as many casualties as all the nation's wars from the Revolution through Korea, combined. 16 percent of the Union army, 31 of the Confederate, would not live to see its end. Males between the ages of thirteen and forty-five bore catastrophic losses: 6 percent of northern males, 25 of southern, were gone. At an average age of 26, combatants with a university education were on a college campus at some point in the 1850s. Among merely 1.18 percent of the American population, these wealthy, educated, white, Protestant boys were not representative of the average soldier, average youth, and surely not the average American. But their potential influence far outweighed their select quantity, as their pathways to power in government and the expanding marketplace were paved with privilege and entitlement. These fortunate sons had everything to lose, and little to materially gain, in risking their lives for their respective sections. So, why did some college men choose to fight? How did their opposing ideologies form? And how did their education shape their perceptions of the widening political chasm in the 1850s, known then and now as "the decade of crisis"? By shedding light on the motivations of these Civil War combatants, this research aims to discern the social forces that ushered the nation to violent internal conflict, and how these forces interacted with higher education at the individual level of experience.

Interest Categories

Curriculum & Instruction
Higher Education
K-12 Education
School & Society


MScR (History) The University of Edinburgh, 2011.
MA (War Studies) King's College London, War Studies, 2009.

Faculty Advisors

Jonathan Zimmerman
Judy and Howard Berkowitz Professor in Education
Literacy, Culture, and International Education Division Professor of History of Education

Areas Of Expertise

American History
Higher Education

Profile information is provided directly by the student