2017 Wilson Award and Symposium

William Julius Wilson Symposium with Elijah AndersonWSU created the William Julius Wilson Award for the Advancement of Social Justice in 2009 to recognize individuals who promote social inclusiveness and diversity in social policies and strive to reduce joblessness. Wilson received his doctorate in sociology from WSU in 1966 and is widely considered one of the nation’s most influential sociologists. He is the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University.

The biennial award is presented during a symposium held on the Pullman campus. The 2017 recipient is Elijah Anderson, one of the nation’s leading urban ethnographers and the William K. Lanman Jr. professor of sociology at Yale University.

Anderson will discuss the resilience of the “cosmopolitan canopy”—a metaphor for civil society—and how the canopy can help teach, reinforce, and spread social tolerance and mutual understanding at a free, public address at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, in the Elson Floyd Cultural Center.

“A college campus can be thought of as a cosmopolitan canopy—an island of civility in a sea of segregated living, where diverse people come together and typically get along—unlike urban ghettos, suburbs, and ethnic enclaves where segregation is more often the norm,” Anderson said.

He will discuss what happens under the canopy when the two predominant types of people there encounter each other, how each feels and functions, and what challenges they face and adapt to or hide from.

“Elijah Anderson is a leading voice in important national conversations about race, culture, and criminal justice,” said Julie Kmec, WSU professor of sociology and chair of the Wilson Award committee. “In his ethnographic work, he has made deeply significant observations of urban life, including the way members of different race and class groups interact and how moral ‘codes’ shape the way people live.

“WSU audiences will learn how public spaces can foster positive race relations at a time when such relations are particularly critical,” Kmec said.

More details about the symposium and the speaker are available at go.wsu.edu/WJWilson.

The symposium and award are sponsored by the WSU Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Office of Equity and Diversity, Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences, Office of the Dean of Students, and Sociology Club.


By Adrian Aumen, College of Arts and Sciences