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Department of Sociology William Julius Wilson Symposium

The William Julius Wilson Award for the Advancement of Social Justice

Washington State University created the William Julius Wilson Award for the Advancement of Social Justice in 2009 to honor individuals who promote social inclusiveness and diversity in social policies and strive to reduce joblessness.

The award is named after William Julius Wilson, who received his PhD in sociology from WSU in 1966. Professor Wilson is widely considered one of the nation’s most influential sociologists.

2015 honoree Nalini Nadkarni presents

Not Such Strange Bedfellows: Bringing Science, Nature, and Nature Imagery to Prisons
Monday, Nov. 30, 7:30 p.m.
CUB Auditorium, WSU Pullman

Nalini Nadkarni Cedar

Nalini Nadkarni, PhD, is a world-renowned forest ecologist who works to bring science and job training to prisons. Her innovative efforts promote social inclusiveness of prisoners and reduce post-prison joblessness.

“One of the most pressing problems facing society today is the increasing distance between humans and nature,” Nadkarni says. “Another issue—seemingly unrelated—is the failure of our system of incarceration to provide inmates with the education and experiences they need to become useful citizens after release.”

To address both of these problems, Nadkarni has worked with corrections systems in Washington state and across the country to bring science and nature/conservation projects to the incarcerated, from prisoners in minimum security to those in solitary confinement. In her presentation, she will describe her successes and challenges she has faced at the convergence of academic science and state corrections.

Please mark your calendar for this free, public, WSU Common Reading event.

Read about the nature imagery in prisons project in the Washington Post.

About Dr. Nadkarni
Nalini Nadkarni is known as “the Queen of the Forest Canopy.” She is a professor of biology at the University of Utah and a forest ecologist who studies rainforest canopy organisms and their interactions in tropical rainforests. She is a passionate communicator about nature and science to people in all walks of life. She has innovated science engagement and conservation programs that bring lectures, experiential learning, and conservation projects to non-traditional public audiences, such as faith-based groups, urban youth, artists, modern dancers, rap singers, legislators, and incarcerated men and women. She has written more than 110 scientific articles and three scholarly books, including “Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connections to Trees,” published by University of California Press. Her recent awards include the National Science Foundation Public Service Award, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for Public Engagement, and the Archie Carr Medal for Conservation. Her work is supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society.

More information at

William Julius Wilson

william-julius-wilson_177x181WSU alumnus William Julius Wilson is the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. A past president of the American Sociological Association, he has received 46 honorary degrees from institutions across the United States and abroad. A MacArthur Prize Fellow from 1987 to 1992, he was 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.

Wilson is also a recipient of the 1998 National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor bestowed in the United States (and the second sociologist to received the honor). He was awarded the Talcott Parsons Prize in the Social Sciences by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2003); the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize by the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (2013); the Robert and Helen Lynd Award for Distinguished Career Achievement by the Community and Urban Section of the American Sociological Association (2013); and the WEB DuBois Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award, the highest award bestowed by the American Sociological Association (2014).

Professor Wilson is the author of numerous publications, including Power, Racism and Privilege: Race Relations in Theoretical and Sociohistorical Perspectives (1973, 1976); The Declining Significance of Race (1978, 1980, 2012), winner of the American Sociological Association’s Sydney Spivack Award; The Truly Disadvantaged (1987, 2012), selected by editors of The New York Times Book Review as one of the 16 best books of 1987, and recipient of The Washington Monthly Annual Book Award, the Society for the Study of Social Problems’ C. Wright Mills Award, and the American Political Science Association’s Aaron Wildavsky Enduring Contribution Award; When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor (1996), selected by The New York Times Book Review editors as a notable book of 1996 and recipient of the Sidney Hillman Foundation Award and the American Political Science Association’s Aaron Wildavsky Enduring Contribution Award; and The Bridge Over the Racial Divide: Rising Inequality and Coalition Politics (1999). He is coauthor of There Goes the Neighborhood: Racial, Ethnic, and Class Tensions in Four Chicago Neighborhoods and Their Meaning for America (2006) and Good Kids in Bad Neighborhoods: Successful Development in Social Context (2006); and author of More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City (2009).

He is a member of numerous national boards and commissions, and chaired the boards of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and the Russell Sage Foundation. Wilson also was a member of President Clinton’s Commission on White House Fellowships (1994-2001).

Download Professor Wilson’s autobiographical article “Reflections on a Sociological Career that Integrates Social Science with Social Policy” »