Michael Dawson returning to the University facultyBy William Harms
Michael Dawson, one of the nation’s leading experts on race and politics, will return to the University Friday, July 1, as a Professor in Political Science and the College.
He has been a faculty member at Harvard University since 2002, where he has taught in the government and African-American studies departments.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues in Political Science, the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, and elsewhere in the University. Chicago is a great place to do research, and in the last decade, the University has made enormous progress in building African-American studies specifically and racial studies more generally,” Dawson said.
Dawson added that family concerns also played a role in his decision to return. His wife, Alice Furumoto-Dawson, is joining the University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Health Disparities Research as a researcher. The center is an interdisciplinary program to study early-onset breast cancer among African-American women.
Dawson expects to resume teaching in the Winter Quarter and will teach both graduate and undergraduate courses. He anticipates eventually initiating some yearlong sequences in the study of race and politics and black politics with colleagues in the Political Science Department and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture.
“Michael Dawson has been the key scholar in deepening our understanding of race in relation to politics in the United States,” said Mark Hansen, the Charles L. Hutchinson Distinguished Service Professor in Political Science and the College and Dean of the Division of Social Sciences. “At Chicago, he also was a tremendously effective leader, whose vision carries forth at the University’s vibrant and innovative Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture. It is both a professional and a personal pleasure to welcome one of my closest colleagues back home again. The whole campus is buoyed by his return.”
Richard Saller, Provost, added, “The University will celebrate Michael’s return to an environment where he can foster the best research and teaching on race politics.”
Dali Yang, Professor and Chair of Political Science and the College, said, “This is an extraordinary development. Michael’s colleagues in Political Science are elated. We have tremendous enthusiasm for his return because he is such an outstanding figure in his field. It’s wonderful to bring him back, particularly in connection with his work with the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture. The University has strengths in this area, and his return cements our leadership in the study of race and politics and American politics in general.”
Dawson, who was named the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor in Political Science at the University in 2001, also is the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture. He was co-principal investigator of the 1988 National Black Election Study and was principal investigator of the 1993-1994 National Black Politics Study, which he conducted with Ronald Brown.
Dawson also was principal investigator for the Black Civil Society Study as well as a project with Lawrence Bobo in which they conducted six public opinion studies on the racial divide in the United States. The information they gathered between 2000 and 2004 is considered the richest data on this issue that exists. They currently are working on a book that analyzes this data.
Dawson’s research interests have included the development of quantitative models of African-American political behavior and public opinion, the political effects of urban poverty, and African-American political ideology.
He is the author of Black Visions: The Roots of Contemporary African-American Political Ideologies, published in 2001. His book Behind the Mule: Race and Class in African-American Politics was published in 1994. Dawson also has written numerous articles on African-American political behavior and race and American politics. He and Bobo co-edit the Du Bois Review, a journal dedicated to social science research on race.
Dawson received a B.A. in 1982 from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in 1986 from Harvard University.