U-M: Elizabeth Anderson named 2019 MacArthur Fellow

ANN ARBOR—University of Michigan philosopher Elizabeth Anderson—whose research focuses on democratic theory and equality in political philosophy—has been deemed an “exceptionally creative individual” by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Anderson was one of 26 chosen for the prestigious 2019 MacArthur Fellowship—also known as a “genius grant.”

The fellowship is a $625,000, no-strings-attached award to extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential. There are three criteria for selection of fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

Winners may use their fellowship to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers.

“I am honored and energized by this amazing award,” said Anderson, the John Dewey Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies. “I consider myself extremely fortunate to have pursued my career at the University of Michigan, the leading university for interdisciplinary scholarship in the world.”

Anderson, who has been a faculty member in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts for 32 years, plans to write several books tracing the history of egalitarianism and what that history means for society today, in terms of how people ought to relate to each other.

“The key to my work has been to synthesize insights from across the disciplines, especially philosophy, history, the social sciences, women’s studies and law,” she said. “With virtually no barriers across departments, programs and schools, and numerous colleagues in all units eager to converse and collaborate, the University of Michigan provides a superb setting for facilitating the kind of research that I do.”

Anderson received her bachelor’s degree in philosophy at Swarthmore College and master’s and doctoral degrees in philosophy from Harvard University. She joined the U-M faculty in 1987.