Ira Katznelson Named Next SSRC President

PRESS RELEASE June 8, 2012

Ira Katznelson will be the next president of the Social Science Research Council, as announced to senior SSRC staff at the annual Board of Directors meeting on June 1, 2012, in New York City. He will take up his post on September 1, 2012.

Dr. Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History at Columbia University, is an accomplished social scientist, whose distinctive scholarship ranges across multiple fields, including American politics, comparative politics, and political theory. Prior to his position at Columbia, he taught at the University of Chicago, chairing its department of political science from 1979 to 1982, and at the New School for Social Research, where he was dean of the graduate faculty from 1983 to 1989. He was president of the American Political Science Association for 2005–2006, is a vice chair of the Academic Advisory Board of the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, and previously served as president of the Social Science History Association. Katznelson has been a Guggenheim Fellow and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. An influential and prolific author, he was the founding editor of the interdisciplinary journal Politics & Society. His latest book, Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time, is forthcoming in March 2013 from Norton’s Liveright imprint.

Professor Katznelson has played a leading role in many SSRC activities over the years, notably as a member of the Committee on States and Social Structures, a major Council initiative connecting new analyses of modern states within the social sciences, and a contributor to that committee’s volume on Bringing the State Back In (Cambridge University Press, 1985).

The chair of the SSRC Board, Michael J. Watts, remarked on his selection:

“Ira Katznelson is an acclaimed theorist of the liberal state with a particular focus on inequality, class, ethnicity, and the political economy of the city. His involvement with the SSRC dates back several decades, and he brings to the presidency a simply vast array of experiences and interests that speak directly to the core mission of the Council. He is a committed internationalist pursuing his political and historical interests in, for example, Eastern Europe and South Asia; and critically, through his presidency with the American Political Science Association, where he contributed directly to capacity-building among beleaguered African universities. Katznelson’s career and his intellectual disposition are exemplary of what the SSRC stands for and seeks to promote.”

Michael Kennedy, chair of the Board’s Executive Committee and of the Presidential Search Committee, reflected on the ratification of the new president:

“The Council is very fortunate to have appointed a scholar of such accomplishment, breadth, and distinction as Ira Katznelson. Our search was extensive, and we considered many candidates, several of whom would have been outstanding leaders of the SSRC. But this appointment is a very happy resolution to the search, and one that will lead to a smooth and promising transition. Ira is the ideal leader for the Council in these times. With his deep expertise on the challenges facing liberal democracies, his experience in leading a diverse set of institutions, his global stature as a leading social scientist, and his genuinely respectful and engaging manner, Ira is poised to take the SSRC to the next level following Craig Calhoun's spectacular leadership.”

Katznelson noted upon accepting the appointment:

“I am humbled by my selection and privileged to lead such a fundamentally important organization. It is a particular honor to follow Craig Calhoun, whose intellectual ambition and invaluable guidance have done so much to shape a vibrant SSRC.”

President Calhoun said of his successor:

“Ira Katznelson is one of the foremost social scientists in the world today and a wonderful choice to lead the SSRC. His work has been influential across many disciplines, reshaping research agendas both in the United States and throughout the world. Ira's books address themes from race and urban politics to class and citizenship and the way war and trade have shaped political institutions. Through a career of intellectual productivity and distinction, he has also been an institutional leader, not least at the SSRC itself.”

Founded in 1923, the Social Science Research Council is an independent, nonprofit international organization. It nurtures new generations of social scientists, fosters innovative research, and mobilizes necessary knowledge on important public issues.

Under Craig Calhoun’s leadership, the SSRC has initiated major projects on, among others, the public communication of social science knowledge, the privatization of risk, religion and the public sphere, HIV/AIDS, media reform and new communications technologies, transformations in knowledge production, Africa’s next generation of social scientists, African peacebuilding, and questions of how to assess and evaluate efforts to shape social change. The Council during his tenure has emphasized innovative public social science through initiatives such as the digital forum After September 11 and the social investigation Learning from Katrina.

Calhoun, a world-renowned social scientist whose work connects sociology and history to culture, communication, politics, philosophy, and economics, has been appointed the next director of the London School of Economics and Political Science. He will take up that post on September 1, 2012.