Senior Scholar Samuel Beer Wins First Isaiah Berlin Award

May 01, 2000

The Woodrow Wilson Center's Samuel Beer received the first Isaiah Berlin Award of the Political Studies Association (PSA) of the United Kingdom. The prize, named after one of Britain's most distinguished political philosophers, was created in celebration of the PSA's 50th anniversary, to recognize those who have made lifetime contributions to political studies. The award was announced at the annual PSA conference dinner held in London on April 12 and will be presented at a dinner in Beer's honor on May 18. A preeminent authority on politics and government in both Britain and America, Beer is the author of many books, including Modern British Politics and To Make A Nation: The Rediscovery of American Federalism. He was the coeditor of and contributor to the Wilson Center Press 1998 volume Welfare Reform: A Race to the Bottom? (see below). The current focus of his work as a senior scholar of the Center is on the search for an American public philosophy adequate to meet the challenges of governance in the new century.

Samuel Beer is the Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, emeritus, at Harvard University. America's foremost scholar of British politics and sometime speechwriter (for FDR), he traces his interest in politics to a meeting with Warren Harding in 1921.

Educated at the University of Michigan, Oxford, and Harvard, where he received the Ph.D. in 1943, he taught in Harvard's Department of Government until his retirement in 1981. Over more than 30 years, his course on Western thought and institutions inspired thousands of Harvard students. Long active in U.S. politics, he was national chairman of Americans for Democratic Action from 1959 to 1962. A prolific writer, he is perhaps best known for his many books on Britain, especially Modern British Politics (1965), for which he received the American Political Science Association's Woodrow Wilson Award. He received the Harvard University Centennial Medal in 1990.

Upon retiring from Harvard, Beer was the first occupant of the Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Chair in American Politics at Boston College. He has honorary degrees from Drake, DePauw, and Sussex Universities; is a member of the Royal Historical Society; and has served as president of the American Political Science Association (APSA) and of the British Politics Group, whose annual award has been named the Samuel H. Beer Dissertation Prize.