Alumnus Richard Sobel received the 2017 George Orwell Prize* for Distinguished Contribution to prominence in Public Language for his book “Citizenship as Foundation of Rights: Meaning for America.”
Sobel is a political scientist who has authored and edited eight books. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his doctorate from University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Sobel is currently a research associate at Harvard, and the director of the Cyber Privacy Project in Chicago and Cambridge. Soble taught political science, public policy, and history at Princeton, Smith College, the University of Connecticut, Harvard, and has researched and written at Northwestern as a visiting professor.
His prizewinning book, “Citizenship as Foundation of Rights,” contributed to public discourses in understanding the rights that citizens are given, which was fundamentally the reason why Sobel won the Orwell award.
The book explains the value of American citizenship and the rights given to Americans. The book spotlights the right to vote, right to employment, and the right to travel in the United States. Sobel evaluates how protecting citizen’s rights protect them from future issues and generations.
He thought it was essential to spell out the values of citizens in detail for America and anyone who plans on becoming an American. “We are in an era where people’s constitutional rights are threatened in everyday life. I wanted the book to contribute to public discussion to understand the rights of citizens,” said Sobel.
“I would like people to read my book then discuss it. I hope they pursue their interests in a way to preserve the preamble of The Constitution and to preserve the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” said Sobel.
Sobel also wanted to be an example of a good citizen and be involved in politics and policies. Sobel saw advantages to being a citizen and wanted to be involved in the process of politics.
While a student, Sobel was a volunteer for the Charles Percy campaigns for Governor and Senate. Students were a big part of the group known as “Teens for Percy.”
“Michael Greenebaum was one of my most influential teachers who I had for two years. When he left the school, he co-founded the Metro High School in Chicago, where I was an intern my junior year at Princeton.
He went on from there to become the principal of the laboratory school at the University of Massachusetts, School of Education. When I started graduate studies there, we reconnected and he agreed to become one of my graduate advisers.
“I want people to understand how the world operates, what our rights are, how we can protect them and how ID requirements can undermine them,” said Sobel.
*Arielle Bachman received the award for Sobel at the NCTE.