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William Julius Wilson to Receive 2017 SAGE-CASBS Award

William Julius Wilson

One of the nation’s most accomplished scholars of race, inequality, and poverty will deliver a public award lecture on June 8 at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

SAGE Publishing and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University are pleased to announce that William Julius Wilson is the 2017 recipient of the SAGE-CASBS Award.

Established in 2013, the SAGE-CASBS Award recognizes outstanding achievement in the behavioral and social sciences that advance our understanding of pressing social issues. It underscores the role of the social and behavioral sciences in enriching and enhancing public policy and good governance. Past winners of the award include psychologist and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, sociologist and education rights activist Pedro Noguera, and political scientist and former U.S. Census Bureau director Kenneth Prewitt.

Sociologist William Julius Wilson is considered one of the most influential and pathbreaking social scientists of the past half-century. He is currently the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University, and previously was the Lucy Flower University Professor and founding director of the University of Chicago’s Center for the Study of Urban Inequality. Among his extensive list of publications and other accomplishments, Wilson has published three widely read, controversial, landmark works of scholarship on different dimensions of race, class, and the urban poor: The Declining Significance of Race (1978), The Truly Disadvantaged (1987), and When Work Disappears (1996). Along the way, he has earned broad respect by challenging liberal orthodoxy about causes of a permanent underclass in U.S. society as well as conservative views that attribute the state of poverty to a dependency on welfare or cultural deficiencies.

As a fierce advocate of inclusive, far-reaching policy interventions at all levels, Wilson has shaped public as well as academic discourse. In 1996, he was named one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential Americans. Widely read, cited, and quoted, Wilson also has appeared frequently on television, testified before Congressional committees, and served as consultant to elected officials at all levels across the country. In 2001, with former CASBS director Neil Smelser, he co-edited America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, a two-volume study of evidence of racial disparities prepared for President Bill Clinton’s Advisory Board on Race.

“Bill Wilson has been instrumental in defining questions, refocusing debate, pointing to answers and, ultimately, enhancing society’s understanding on some of the most significant questions of our time involving race, class, poverty, and urban inequality in the United States,” said SAGE founder and executive chairman Sara Miller McCune. “Moreover, he has worked tirelessly to bridge gaps among the academic, public, and policy-making spheres. His impact is undeniable.”

Wilson spent the 1981-82 academic year as a CASBS fellow and the preface to The Truly Disadvantaged, published five years later, credits the Center for providing space and time for “a good deal of the initial reading” for the book. As he further notes in the preface, “partly through participation in a series of stimulating seminars at the Center with some of the leading policy experts in the country, [I] developed ideas about economic and social welfare policy.”

Wilson later served on the CASBS Board of Trustees from 1989-2002 and as its chair from 1999-2002.

“The seminal work of William Julius Wilson, so important when it first appeared, is at least as timely now,” said CASBS director Margaret Levi. “Few academics have had such a significant mark on both research and policy. We at CASBS are proud to count him as a former fellow and a current friend and ally in our efforts to analyze and combat inequality and inequity.”

Wilson is the recipient of 46 honorary degrees. A MacArthur Prize Fellow from 1987 to 1992, he has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of education, and the British Academy. Among the honors he has received are the National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor bestowed in the United States (and only the second sociologist to receive the honor); the Talcott Parsons Prize in the Social Sciences by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize by the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science; the Robert and Helen Lynd Award for Distinguished Career Achievement by the Community and Urban Section of the American Sociological Association; and the WEB Du Bois Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award by the American Sociological Association. In 2012, the Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility Section of the American Sociological Association renamed its Early Career Award as the William Julius Wilson Early Career Award.

CASBS and SAGE disseminated a call for award nominations in September 2016. Wilson was selected as the winner among a sterling group of nominated candidates after a thorough and rigorous selection process. The SAGE-CASBS Award selection committee consisted of Sara Miller McCune; Margaret Levi; Anthony Bryk, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and former CASBS fellow (2002-03); Ann Shola Orloff, professor of sociology, Board of Lady Managers of the Columbian Exposition Chair at Northwestern University, and former CASBS fellow (2014-15); Manuel Pastor, professor of sociology and American studies & ethnicity and Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society at the University of Southern California; Kenneth Prewitt, 2015 SAGE-CASBS Award winner, Carnegie Professor of Public Affairs at Columbia University, and former CASBS fellow (1983-84); and Sapna Cheryan, associate professor of psychology at the University of Washington and 2016-17 CASBS fellow.

Driven by the belief that flourishing educational programs and engaged scholarship create healthy minds and healthy societies, SAGE Publishing is the proud funder of the award. Since its founding in 1965, SAGE has been a passionate advocate for the social and behavioral sciences.

In addition to a cash prize, Wilson will deliver a lecture on June 8, 2017, at CASBS. The event will be free and open to the public with registration. View event details and registration info here.




Sara Miller McCune founded SAGE Publishing in 1965 to support the dissemination of usable knowledge and educate a global community. SAGE is a leading international provider of innovative, high-quality content publishing more than 1,000 journals and over 800 new books each year, spanning a wide range of subject areas. Our growing selection of library products includes archives, data, case studies and video. SAGE remains majority owned by our founder and after her lifetime will become owned by a charitable trust that secures the company’s continued independence. Principal offices are located in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC and Melbourne.

Founded in 1954, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University is renowned as a place where great minds come together to confront the problems of the day – a place where original, interdisciplinary thinking is the norm. CASBS has hosted generations of distinguished scholars and scientists who, in the spirit of collaboration, form an enduring community that advances our knowledge and changes the way we understand the world.

Contact: Mike Gaetani, CASBS / Tel: (650) 736-0119

Written by Mike Gaetani

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