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Jack Levin Award Statement

The Public Understanding of Sociology Award is given annually to someone who has made exemplary contributions to the advancement of the public understanding of sociology, sociological research, and scholarship among the general public. The 2009 winner of the Public Understanding of Sociology Award is JACK LEVIN.

Jack Levin is the Brudnick Professor of Sociology and Criminology and co-director of the Center on Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University in Boston. Professor Levin’s work on hate crimes, mass murder, serial killers, and prejudice has made him one of the most widely recognized and quoted sociologists in the public sector.For over 25 years, Professor Levin has used the sociological perspective to contextualize sensational media stories, dispel myths, influence public policy and change how people think about violence and hate crimes.

Professor Levin’s work has been visible in the public sphere through op-eds, scholarly and trade books, and regular appearances on television programs. Levin has authored or co-authored over 100 op-eds in major newspapers such, as T he New York Times, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, Philadelphia Inquirer, Christian Science Monitor, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post,and USA Today, and 30 books, including his most recent, Serial Killers and Sadistic Murderers-Up Close and Personal (2008).In addition, he appears frequently on national television programs, including 48 Hours, 20/20, Dateline NBC, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Oprah, The O’Reilly Factor, Larry King Live, and all network newscasts.

Levin’s contributions to advance the sociological perspective have extended far beyond the media. He has testified in criminal and civil court cases, consulted with prosecution and defense attorneys in a variety of cases including murder, discrimination, and hate crimes.He has also consulted with state and local politicians, superintendents of schools, and other community groups.His work on why we hate and violence based on difference has made him a frequent speaker on college, campuses and at conferences both in the United States and internationally.

Levin is also an award winning teacher in the classroom at Northeastern University.He regularly teaches classes on the sociology of violence and hate, which students flock to year after year.He also teaches classes on statistics, has written two books on elementary statistics, and has worked to increase public understanding of the methods of sociology and their usefulness for students, policy makers, and the public.In recognition for his outstanding teaching, Levin won Northeastern University’s prestigious Excellence in Teaching Award, the Professor of the Year Award from the Massachusetts Council for Advancement and Support of Education, and the CASE Professor of the Year award.

In today’s post-9/11 world, Levin’s research helps the public understand hate and violence in a global context, the role of the media in shaping our views of people and events, and the effect hatred can have on society and culture.Americans must ask not only why we hate but why others hate us.Levin’s work reminds us that in the U.S., most terrorist acts come from within, not from afar.While the media is quick to look for individual psychopathology in those who commit acts of terrorism or violent crimes, Levin’s work draws our attention to the impact of social injustice, isolation, social environment, and domestic policies in the lives of individuals.Levin educates and enlightens but also offers ideas for how we can combat hate and violent crimes in the future.In order to create change, the sociological perspective must be brought to the attention of policy makers, law enforcement, and the public. We must see the acts of individuals embedded in their social context.