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Friday, Aug 12, 2022

Stanger to take additional year of leave at Stanford and Library of Congress

Political Science Professor Allison Stanger has extended her sabbatical another year after winning awards that will take her to Stanford, Calif. and Washington, D.C. next fall and spring.

Stanger, who spent this past year as a fellow and visiting professor at Harvard University, will be the Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in Ethics and American History at the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress for 2020–2021. On a separate appointment, she will also be a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) during that time.

She will spend the year working on her new book, tentatively titled “Consumers vs. Citizens: Social Inequality and Democracy’s Public Sphere in a Big Data World,” she said in an email to The Campus. She noted that the locations of her upcoming posts will position her ideally for this kind of work, since she will be close both to the offices of the government and Silicon Valley.

Stanger said she plans on returning to Middlebury for the 2021–22 academic year.

“I’m very grateful to both my colleagues in the Political Science Department and to the administration for their exceptional support, and I am looking forward to returning to Middlebury when my fellowships end,” she wrote. “The experiences I have had these past few years should make me a better teacher and resource for Middlebury students.”

Stanger was injured by protesters during Charles Murray’s visit to Middlebury in 2017. In the fracas that followed the disrupted talk, Stanger, who mediated the talk and escorted Murray out of the venue, suffered whiplash and a concussion.

The following fall, Stanger began what was slated to be a two-year leave. But at the end of the second year, Stanger announced to the Middlebury Political Science faculty and staff her plans to remain off-campus for the 2019–2020 academic year.

Stanger is currently a technology and human values senior fellow at Harvard’s Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics, and is teaching a course at the university (now remotely, from Vermont) called “The Politics of Virtual Realities.” In her email, Stanger added that she was recently appointed to the Science Board of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico.

The handbook states that the college does not guarantee to faculty “extraordinary leaves” — leaves that last more than one year — but that the college may grant such a leave when a professor is offered “an unusual professional opportunity.”

Dean of Faculty Sujata Moorti said that the college prioritizes “departmental and college planning in approving leaves.” The Political Science department in particular typically has between two and four professors on leave in any given year, according to Political Science Department Chair Erik Bleich. Next year, only one other professor — Professor Nadia Horning, who teaches in a different subfield — will be on leave.

According to information available on the college’s website, Stanger’s current leave of absence is unpaid by the college. When asked if next year’s leave would also be unpaid, Moorti said Stanger “will be paid by the institutions hosting her.”

The CASBS offers stipends to first-time fellows, and an endowment at the Library of Congress funds the chair position, which pays a stipend of $13,500 per month. Nominees for that position are sourced from a number of individuals and are recommended to the Librarian of Congress by a selection committee.

Bill Ryan, the director of communications at the Library of Congress, characterized the position as one that “supports exploration of the history of America with special attention to the ethical dimensions of domestic economic, political and social policies.” He said the start and end dates of the chairmanship have not yet been finalized. The CASBS position runs September 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

Before the coronavirus led to the cancellation and postponement of all on-campus events, Stanger was scheduled to visit Middlebury April 7 to talk about her most recently published book, “Whistleblowers: Honesty in America from Washington to Trump,” alongside the New York Times’s David Sanger. The book was fortuitously released this September, the same day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. The inquiry was spurred by a whistleblower complaint against the President. 

In the months that followed the book’s release, Stanger made a number of high-profile radio and TV appearances, and penned pieces for the New York Times and The Atlantic. In February, Stanger was one of about 50 authors to win a Prose Award from the American Association of Publishers for the book, in the category of Government, Policy and Politics.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the location of Stanford University. It is located in Stanford, California.