Leah Gordon’s research wins national award

Leah Gordon
Leah Gordon

In the 1949 musical South Pacific, Rodgers and Hammerstein explained that racial intolerance had to be “carefully taught.”

In 2016, LEAH GORDON, an assistant professor in the Stanford Graduate School of Education, was awarded the prestigious Linda Eisenmann Prize for her research on how racial intolerance was shaped in post-World War II America.

The Eisenmann Prize is given biennially to the best scholarly work in higher education history by a junior faculty member.

Gordon’s research is compiled in From Power to Prejudice: The Rise of Racial Individualism in Midcentury America. The focus is on how and why academic debate in the two decades following World War II favored arguments that viewed racial injustice in terms of individual perpetrators and victims.

In 2015, the American Council of Learned Societies awarded Gordon a Charles A. Ryskamp Fellowship to support her research on the concept of “equal educational opportunity” in 20th-century America.

A cultural and intellectual historian, Gordon draws on histories of American education, American social thought and the African American experience to examine the politics of knowledge production, the relationship between expert and popular social theory, and the American tendency to “educationalize” social problems. Her work has focused on the purposes of school desegregation, on the challenges scholar-activists faced linking social theory and political practice, and on shifting conceptions of racial justice and equality in the 20th century.

Read more about the research that led Gordon and her work to be honored with the Eisenmann Prize.

Watch Gordon discuss her research.