Robert Sampson Receives William Julius Wilson Award for Advancement of Social Justice

Robert Sampson Receives William Julius Wilson Award for Advancement of Social Justice

By Jordan Rinehart

Harvard professor Robert J. Sampson received the William Julius Wilson Award for the Advancement of Social Justice following a well-attended lecture on the Pullman campus in October. Fellow Harvard professor and 1966 WSU Sociology alum Prof. William Julius Wilson (PhD ’66) presented Sampson with the honor.

Robert Sampson.

Sampson, the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University, has made major contributions to sociology and the study of inequality. His recent groundbreaking book, Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect. examines the lasting effects of neighborhoods on crime and poverty. The book is part of the ongoing Project of Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN), a large, interdisciplinary study of how neighborhoods, schools, and families influence the development of youth across Chicago. Great American City embraces the perspective that community still matters, and that the spatial organization of individuals is essential in driving economic inequality, criminal activity and incarceration, and health outcomes.  Sampson’s book stakes a claim in the long-running sociological debate on whether agency or global structure has the upper hand in determining one’s position in society, arguing that space matters.

Dozens of WSU Sociology faculty and students, along with other members of the WSU community packed the Compton Union Building’s Junior Ballroom for Sampson’s lecture and award presentation. Sociology faculty and staff were particularly honored that Dr. Wilson returned to Pullman to present the award and took several opportunities throughout the day to meet with faculty and graduate students to discuss their work.

“William Julius Wilson has profoundly influenced public discussions of social inclusiveness, poverty and joblessness and helped shape social policies around these critical issues. The symposium in his honor demonstrates WSU’s commitment to a better understanding and progress in addressing these complex challenges,” said Julie Kmec, associate professor of sociology and chair of the symposium organizing committee.

sampson with grads.

WSU established the Wilson Award and Symposium in 2009 to honor those whose work promotes social inclusiveness, reduces joblessness, and promotes inclusive social policy. Past recipients include Dr. Wilson and David Simon, author, journalist, and producer of the Wire.