University President Steven Knapp and professor Martha Finnemore were elected as members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an esteemed honorary society and a leading research center.
Knapp and Finnemore are among 212 new members who will join one of the nation’s most prestigious societies for achievements in science, scholarship, business, public affairs and the arts.
Knapp, who taught English literature at the University of California, Berkeley before serving as dean of arts and sciences and then provost at Johns Hopkins University, is a vocal supporter of the humanities. Knapp’s background in literary theory, philosophy and religion aligns with the academy’s goals.
“One of the key missions of the academy is to promote the role of scholarship in helping the nation and the world address critical social and intellectual problems. That effort is something to which I am strongly committed, and an example of my work in that area would be the lectures I have given on the role of the humanities,” with the academy Knapp said.
As one of more than 50 institutions of higher learning that are affiliates of the academy, the University maintains “a strong relationship,” Knapp said.
Paul Karoff, chief communication officer for the academy, said university affiliates “support and participate institutionally in the work of the academy, especially as it pertains to issues that we work on around higher education.”
“There’s a whole range of issues dealing with challenges facing higher education in America and the university affiliates and members of those institutions work closely with the academy on that agenda,” Karoff said.
GW faculty have served on several academy projects, Knapp said. In 2009, the academy sponsored an on-campus symposium on the humanities as part of the University’s annual National Humanities Alliance meeting.
“I am sure there is more we can do together, given our shared missions and the growing prominence of GW as a convener of important discussions here in Washington,” Knapp said.
Finnemore, a professor of political science and international affairs, has authored several prize-winning books and a variety of articles. Her research focuses on global governance, international organizations, ethics and social theory.
“I’m delighted to be part of the academy and looking forward to supporting its mission,” Finnemore said. “The academy’s work is an important component of independent policy research and I look forward to contributing to the academy’s research efforts.”
The academy’s more than 4,000 fellows and 600 foreign honorary members are elected through anonymous nominations, followed by a vote of the entire membership. After joining the society, members can contribute to policy studies, write for the academy’s publications or serve on governance committees, among other things.
“All fellows of the academy are encouraged to participate in the work of the academy and that could mean any number of things,” Karoff said.
Since its founding in 1780, the academy has inducted leading intellectuals such as George Washington, Daniel Webster and Albert Einstein.
“As the strength of our faculty and the impact of their scholarly contributions continues to grow, I am sure we will see increasing numbers of them singled out for membership in the AAAS or in one of the National Academies of Science,” Knapp said.
All newly elected members will be inducted in a formal ceremony Oct. 1 at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Mass.