Social Sciences faculty inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Announcement Type: 

On Saturday, October 7, 2017, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences inducted 228 national and international scholars, artists, philanthropists, and business leaders as its 237th class. Of these, five scholars were from the University of Chicago, including two from the Division of the Social SciencesJohnathan Lear, John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the Department of Philosophy, and Tara Zahra, a professor in the Department of History and the College.


“It is an honor to welcome this new class of exceptional women and men as part of our distinguished membership,” said Don Randel, chair of the American Academy’s board of directors when the class was named in April 2017. “Their talents and expertise will enrich the life of the Academy and strengthen our capacity to spread knowledge and understanding in service to the nation.”


Lear works primarily on philosophical conceptions of the human psyche, specifically the ethical significance of human imagination. He has written extensively on a broad range of philosophical topics, ranging from Aristotle (Aristotle: The Desire to Understand) to Native American culture (Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation). A trained psychoanalyst, Lear has written extensively on the philosophical significance of talking cures. His most recent book is Wisdom Won From Illness (Harvard University Press, 2017). Lear received the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award in 2009. He currently serves as the Roman Family Director of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society.  


Zahra’s field of interest is in transnational and comparative approaches to the history of modern Europe, particularly Central and Eastern Europe. Her first book, Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle of Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900-1948 (Cornell, 2008), won several awards for European history. Her most recent book is The Great Departure: Mass Migration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World (Norton, 2016). Zahra received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2014 for “painting a more integrative picture of 20th-century European history.” Zahra is also co-chair for the executive committee of the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights.


Forty-eight (48) current Division faculty have been named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


The full list of the 237th class is available at


Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing—and opportunities available to—the nation and the world. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies of science, engineering, and technology policy; global security and international affairs; the humanities, arts, and education; and American institutions and the public good.