Biographical Information

A short biography.

Recent Publications

The Great American University: Its Rise To Preeminence, Its Indispensable National Role, Why It Must Be Protected

The American research university is arguably the world's most powerful engine of innovation and discovery. Yet it is widely misunderstood and in danger of losing its capacity to drive economic progress and improve our lives.

Although America's universities have become the envy of the world for their creative energy and their production of transformative knowledge, few understand how and why they have become preeminent. This book traces the origins and the evolution of our great universities. It shows how they grew out of sleepy colleges at the turn of the twentieth century into powerful institutions that continue to generate new industries and advance our standard of living. Far from inevitable, this transformation was enabled by a highly competitive system that invested public tax dollars in university research and students while granting universities substantial autonomy.

Today, America's universities face considerable threats. Even greater than foreign competition are the threats from within the United States. Under the Bush administration, government increasingly imposed ideological constraints on the freedom of academic inquiry. Restrictive visa policies instituted after 9/11 continue to discourage talented foreign graduate students from training in the United States. The international financial crisis, which has depleted university endowments and state investments in higher education, threatens the vitality of some of our greatest institutions of higher learning. In order to sustain and enhance the American tradition of excellence, we must nurture this powerful - yet underappreciated - national resource. more...

2010: "Can American Research Universities Remain the Best in the World?," The Chronicle of Higher Education. January 3rd, 2010.

2009: "Defending Academic Freedom and Free Inquiry," Social Research, Volume 76, No. 3, Fall 2008, 811-844; 867-886.

Selected Works

2005: "Academic Freedom Under Fire," Daedalus. Volume 135, Number 2, Spring. Posted with permission from MIT Press. Please go to the MIT Press site for more information about Daedalus, which is the publication of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. (web site:

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2006: "Intellectual diversity in the U.S.: To What End?" The Journal of Higher Education: Academic Matters. OCUFA, Fall 2006, pp. 13-16

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2003: "The Patriot Act on Campus: Defending the University Post 9/11," Boston Review Volume 28, Number 3-4, Summer 2003, 16-18. (For letters and response)

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      Related Short Essays:

            2005: "The New McCarthyism," The Chronicle Review. Volume LII, Number 3, September 9,
            2005. B7-B8

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2004: "Paul F. Lazarsfeld: His Scholarly Journey." Keynote address at "An International Symposium in Honor of Paul Lazarsfeld, Brussels, Belgium, June 4-5, 2004. The keynote address will be published in a symposium volume; a shortened version will be published in a book of essay on Columbia's great teachers and researchers, which are part of the "Columbia's Living Legacies" series, edited by William T. De Bary.

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1996: "Two Cultures Revisited." The Bridge, National Academy of Engineering, Volume 26, Number 3-4, Fall/Winter, pp.16-21. Reprinted in Albert H. Teich, Stephen D. Nelson, Celia McEnaney (editors), AAAS Science and Technology Policy Yearbook, Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C.: 89-100. 1997. (Selected as one of most important articles published in the field during the past year.)

1993: "Balancing Acts: Dilemmas of Choice Facing Research Universities," Daedalus. Volume 122, Number 4, Fall, pp. 1-36. Lead article in issue entitled "The American Research University."

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1991: "A Theory of Limited Differences: Explaining the Productivity Puzzle in Science." (Jonathan R. Cole and Burton Singer) Chapter 13, pp. 277-310, in The Outer Circle Women in the Scientific Community (Harriet Zuckerman, Jonathan R. Cole and John T. Bruer, editors). New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Full publication list...

Academic Information

Department of Sociology

Courses for Sping Semester 2007

Sociology W3960: Science, Society and Law
The University in American Life
Journalism: Evidence & Interference

Contact Information

820 Jerome Greene Hall
435 W 116th Street
NY, New York 10027
phone: 1-212-854-1132
fax: 1-212-854-7946

Columbia University in the City of New York