Political Science Now

Should APSA’s Most Prominent Award Continue to be Named after a Racist?

Should APSA’s Most Prominent Award Continue to be Named after a Racist?

by Jennifer Hochschild, Harvard University

As political scientists, we have no control over the possible renaming of the many institutions named for the twenty-eighth U.S. president—except for the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award, given annually by the American Political Science Association for the best book on government, politics, or international affairs. The APSA’s highest honor for book writing commemorates a man who not only held the nation’s presidency but also earned a Ph.D. in political science, wrote books and articles including the still-read Congressional Government (1885), taught jurisprudence and political economy in half a dozen colleges and universities, presided over the APSA as well as Princeton University—and directly or indirectly promoted racial segregation in universities, the federal employment, and the armed forces.  Should the association’s most prominent award continue to be named after a racist?

Like many APSA members, I have pondered this question a lot. Colleagues make thoughtful arguments on both sides. On the one hand: If I taught American politics, I would teach about George Wallace, but I wouldn’t want to receive the “George Wallace award.” I, like 16,000 1 other members of the Association, would have liked one day to win the “Wilson Prize.” Today, I no longer would.

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Perspectives on Politics / Volume 14/  Issue 3 / September 2016, pp. 760-761