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Theda Skocpol, Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Theda Skocpol, Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Theda Skocpol, Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

She’s an internationally recognized scholar, professor at Harvard University and a Spartan.

B.A. College of Social Science and Honors College, 1969; M.A. Harvard University, 1972; Ph.D. Harvard, 1975

Distinguished Alumni: Presented to alumni who have differentiated themselves by obtaining the highest level of professional accomplishment in their field.

Theda Skocpol is a passionate researcher who loves tackling puzzles. She prefers to ask questions about what people care about in the real world and advises her students to pursue important topics regardless of how challenging they might be. Dr. Skocpol’s cutting-edge work was recognized early when her Ph.D. thesis, a comparative analysis of revolutions in France, Russia and China, earned the 1979 C. Wright Mills Award and the 1980 American Sociological Association Award for a Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship. Over the course of her career Dr. Skocpol has earned more than 30 major awards and honors and serves as the director of the Scholars Strategy Network, an organization that encourages nonpartisan public engagement.

As a member of all three major U.S. interdisciplinary scholarly societies in the U.S., Dr. Skocpol isone of the most cited scholars in social science. Her works have shaped modern understanding of states, social policy, and civic engagement in American democracy. Dr. Skocpol cherishes the professors at MSU who supported her start in academia and, in turn, values the students she teaches today.

Dr. Skocpol’s reputation reaches even beyond the realm of academic journals. Her resilient activism about democracy and social justice have been deeply embedded in her career and community involvements. As a student as a student at MSU she spent parts of two summers teaching language skills at workshops for students entering Rust College in Mississippi, the state’s oldest historically black college. Her obvious compassion and dedication allow her to take on questions which deeply matter to human welfare.

Dr. Skocpol combines academic excellence with deep care for humanity. She is a community fixture, regularly discussing professional football — and her beloved New England Patriots — in a Cambridge diner with her husband.

“Don't play it safe. If you're passionate about a topic, find a way to pursue it, because if you don’t care, no one else will.”

 Who will persist? Spartans Will.


Author: Aimee Klevorn