THEDA SKOCPOL (PhD, Harvard, 1975) is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University. At Harvard, she has served as Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (2005-2007) and as Director of the Center for American Political Studies (2000-2006). In 1996, Skocpol served as President of the Social Science History Association, an interdisciplinary professional group, and in 2002-03, she served as President of the American Political Science Association during the centennial of this leading professional body. In 2007, she was awarded the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science for her "visionary analysis of the significance of the state for revolutions, welfare, and political trust, pursued with theoretical depth and empirical evidence." The Skytte Prize is one of the largest and most prestigious in political science and is awarded annually by the Skytte Foundation at Uppsala University (Sweden) to the scholar who in the view of the foundation has made the most valuable contribution to the discipline. Skocpol has also been elected to membership in all three major U.S. interdisciplinary honor societies: the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (elected 1994), the American Philosophical Society (elected 2006), and the National Academy of Sciences (elected 2008).
In addition to her teaching and research at Harvard, Skocpol also serves as the Director of the Scholars Strategy Network, an organization with dozens of regional chapters across the U.S. that encourages nonpartisan public engagement by university-based scholars, building ties between academics and policymakers, civic groups, and journalists. Network members summarize research findings on topics of public interest in two-page briefs written in everyday language with no jargon.
Skocpol’s work covers a broad spectrum of topics and her books and articles have been widely cited in political science literature and have won numerous awards. Over the last three decades, her research has primarily focused on health care reform, public policy, and civic engagement amidst the shifting inequalities and partisan polarization in American democracy. Among the many books she has authored or co-authored are Diminished Democracy: From Membership to Management in American Civic Life; Health Care Reform and American Politics; and The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism. Her most recent book is the edited volume, Upending American Politics: Polarizing Parties, Ideological Elites, and Citizen Activists from the Tea Party to the Anti-Trump Resistance (with Caroline Tervo). Skocpol speaks regularly to community groups and writes for blogs and public-interest magazines.