Another famous sociology major: Arne Duncan

Occasionally I highlight famous sociology degree holders such as Ronald Reagan or the current President of Ireland or Martin Luther King, Jr. Add the current Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, to the list:

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan leads this year’s class of inductees for the Academic All-America Hall of Fame that was announced Tuesday by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Duncan was a basketball co-captain at Harvard and the Crimson’s leading scorer at 16.9 points a game as a senior in 1986-87. He was first-team Academic All-American that year, graduating magna cum laude with a degree in sociology.

He tried his hand at pro basketball from 1987-91, including a stint in Australia.

Some students want to know that sociology majors can make a difference in the US government or in large organizations. This is a good example: Duncan built upon his degree and parlayed into a career in education.

The title of Duncan’s senior thesis at Harvard sounds like something that might come out of a William Julius Wilson text:

Duncan attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools[2] and later Harvard University, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. His senior thesis, for which he took a year’s leave to do research in the Kenwood neighborhood, was entitled The values, aspirations and opportunities of the urban underclass.

It would be interesting to hear Duncan talk more specifically about how a sociology degree has helped him see the world differently and get involved in and move up within government organizations.

Can you imagine what might happen if Duncan, working out of personal experience as well as an administrator, led a charge to include sociology in curriculum?

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