Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

Harvard Graduate School of Education
Education specialist; Sociologist; Educator
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Member Since
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot is the Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education at Harvard University, where she has been on the faculty since 1972. An educator, researcher, author, and public intellectual, Lawrence-Lightfoot has written nine books, including Worlds Apart: Relationships Between Families and Schools (1978), Beyond Bias: Perspectives on Classrooms (1979) (with Jean Carew), and The Good High School: Portraits of Character and Culture (1983), which received the 1984 Outstanding Book Award from the American Educational Research Association. Her book Balm in Gilead: Journey of a Healer (1988), which won the 1988 Christopher Award for "literary merit and humanitarian achievement," was followed by I've Known Rivers: Lives of Loss and Liberation (1994) and The Art and Science of Portraiture (1997) (with Jessica Hoffmann Davis), which documents her pioneering approach to social science methodology, one that bridges the realms of aesthetics and empiricism. Lawrence-Lightfoot is a member of numerous professional and scholarly committees and boards of directors including: The American Philosophical Society, The National Academy of Education, Bright Horizons, The Coalition of Educational Success, WGBH Educational Foundation, The Berklee College of Music, and the Atlantic Philanthropies where she is Deputy Chair. Lawrence-Lightfoot has been a Fellow at the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College and at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. In 1984, she was the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Prize, and in 1993 she was awarded Harvard's George Ledlie Prize given for research that makes the "most valuable contribution to science" and "the benefit of mankind." In 1995, she became a Spencer Senior Scholar; and in 2008, she was named the Margaret Mead Fellow by the Academy of Political and Social Sciences. Lawrence-Lightfoot has been the recipient of 28 honorary degrees from colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. Upon her retirement, her chair will become the Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot Endowed Chair, making her the first African American woman in Harvard's history to have an endowed professorship named in her honor. She received the B.A. degree (1966) in psychology from Swarthmore College and the Ph.D. (1972) in sociology from Harvard University. She was elected a Fellow (III:1) of the American Academy in 2013.
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