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Craig Calhoun, former president of London School of Economics and Political Science, joins ASU

World-renowned social scientist to focus on strengthening social sciences to address society's most complex problems
July 4, 2018

Craig Calhoun, the world-renowned social scientist and former director and president of the London School of Economics and Political Science, has joined Arizona State University as University Professor of social sciences.

Executive Vice President and University Provost Mark Searle announced Calhoun’s appointment.

“Craig will serve as a catalyst for our efforts to enhance our impact in keeping with our charter’s instruction to advance research and discovery of public value and assume responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities we serve,” Searle said. “To accomplish this, we need to bring to bear our substantial expertise in the social sciences with other disciplines, and Craig will be working to enable that outcome.”

Calhoun’s work at ASU will focus on strengthening the ability of the social sciences, working together with the natural sciences and humanities, to address the most complex problems facing society today — problems ranging from the shifting nature of globalization to renewal of place-based communities and the complicated social and ethical issues raised by new technologies such as gene editing and artificial intelligence.

Calhoun previously served as president of the Berggruen Institute, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit, where his work has included developing an agenda for the organization based on improving governance systems in light of great transformations that reshape human life, such as advances in science and technology and the restructuring of global economics and politics. He joined Berggruen from the presidency of the London School of Economics.

“ASU has offered me the freedom to work on what I think are the most important questions in the world to which I can make a contribution,” Calhoun said. “I’m not locked into a single discipline or to just one of these questions. I’m able to connect the questions to each other, connect fields and lines of inquiry to each other, connect different schools at ASU to each other.”

Calhoun received his DPhil from Oxford, combining politics, sociology, and history. He also has advanced degrees in anthropology. His career has been interdisciplinary, but with a core focus on sociology.

He will hold joint appointments in the School of Politics and Global Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the School of Public Affairs in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions; the School for the Future of Innovation in Society; the School of Sustainability; and the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, a collaborative effort between the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Beyond exploring the societal challenges and ethical dilemmas posed by scientific advances, Calhoun will spend his time researching and writing about large social, political and economic issues relating to global economic transformations, participation in the political process, financial instability, reimagining and reinventing universities, and the creativity that goes into designing, building and sustaining communities, which are under significant stress in today’s society.

“If we value community, we have to figure out how to reinvent it,” he said. “We can’t just make community great again. We’ve got to figure out how to make community anew, if that’s what we want.”

Calhoun started at ASU on July 1.

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