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David Segal Award Statement

David Segal, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland, is currently the foremost military sociologist in the country. David has a long and illustrious career devoted to rigorous sociological research on the military. At the same time, he works tirelessly to translate the important findings from that research for the audiences who need it. David’s research and outreach—understanding the military as an institution and how it articulates with the broader American society—is of critical importance, especially over the past several years since the American invasion of Iraq. He has been interviewed on major radio programs such as National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, and has been quoted in leading print outlets such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.

David’s efforts to enhance public understanding extend well beyond media outlets. He has provided important Congressional testimony on topics ranging from education benefits for military service to sexual orientation in the military. For example, in 1993, he testified to both the House and Senate on sexual orientation, and his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee was televised by CSPAN. He has served as an expert witness for the US Department of Justice in cases involving religious discrimination in the military. He recently served in an amicus curia role (along with other social scientists) in Cook Vs. Rumsfeld, regarding sexual orientation discrimination in the military (see the January 2007 issue of Footnotes).

A key public that David’s work serves is the military establishment itself. In a host of ways, he has helped military leaders better understand the institution they lead and the individuals they recruit, train, and deploy. He has lectured regularly at the military academies and schools, with visiting appointments at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He has served as a special assistant for peace operations to the Chief of Staff of the Army and was the only sociologist on the Defense Science Board Task Force on Human Resource Strategies (1998-2000). For his service, he has twice been awarded the U.S. Army’s Medal for Outstanding Civilian Service (in 1989 and 2000).

His work to bring sociological understanding to people outside of sociology is international in scope. For example, when the Netherlands was debating whether to end military conscription and adopt an all-volunteer force, he was invited to The Hague to provide expert testimony. He also served as an expert witness in a British Equal Employment Opportunity Commission case involving gender discrimination in the Royal Marines.

Perhaps David’s most important “public,” and most lasting legacy, is his training and mentoring of students, many of whom are active military personnel. Both by example and instruction, he instills in students that sociology has a mission and that mission is to serve the public. On four occasions, one of the students in his Center’s Military Sociology Program has won the University of Maryland’s George W. Phillips Award established to recognize graduate research in the public interest. On three of these occasions, the student’s research had a dramatic influence on national policy. For example, Darlene Iskra’s work on gender discrimination among military personnel stationed in Saudi Arabia fed into legislation to eliminate unequal requirements for men and women, legislation that ultimately passed both houses of Congress.

In sum, Daivd Segal has, without a doubt, made exemplary contributions to advance the public understanding of sociology through his scholarship, his translation of that scholarship for multiple audiences, and his training of the next generation of public sociologists. He is thus a most worthy recipient of the 2007 ASA Award for Public Understanding of Sociology.