Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Michael Kennedy

Michael Kennedy

Michael Kennedy

Professor of Sociology and International and Public Affairs
Director of Graduate Studies, Master of Public Affairs Program

Michael D. Kennedy (@Prof_Kennedy) is professor of sociology and international studies at Brown University. Throughout his career, Kennedy has addressed East European social movements, national identifications, and systemic change. For the last 15 years, he also has worked in the sociology of public knowledge, global transformations, universities and social movements.  

Kennedy was the University of Michigan's first vice provost for international affairs in addition to being director of an institute and five centers and programs at UM; he also served as the Howard R. Swearer Director of the Watson Institute for International Studies. Kennedy just concluded nine years of service on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors at the Social Science Research Council and began work on the Advisory Board of the Open Society Foundations’ Higher Education Support Program.

His latest book, Globalizing Knowledge: Intellectuals, Universities, and Publics in Transformationis recently published by Stanford University Press. 


Globalizing Knowledge

Through Globalizing Knowledge, Kennedy explains how intellectuals and their knowledge institutions and networks shape, and are shaped by, global transformations. This cultural political sociology of knowledge and change is informed by his analysis of public engagements around inequality, nationalism, solidarity and energy across the world, especially in the USA, Europe and Eurasia.  His recently published book, Globalizing Knowledge http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=24607, has led to a number of lectures and book panels whose extensions are available here: https://www.academia.edu/10282109/Extensions_of_Globalizing_Knowledge.  

Global Trade, Technology and Public Knowledge

Through Global Trade, Technology and Public Knowledge, Kennedy explores 21st century transformative movements emphasizing three particular vectors:

a) the place of various energy technologies in global, national, and local public discourses (e.g. https://www.academia.edu/7962728/_2014_Articulations_of_Fracking_Fields_State_Diplomacy_Corporate_Energy_and_Environmental_Movements_across_the_European_Union_and_USA_); 

b) the ways in which transnational trade agreements figure in democracy's expression (e.g. https://www.academia.edu/9335536/_2014_Class_in_Trade_TTIP_ISDS_and_the_Cultural_Politics_of_the_Next_Left_) and

c) the mutation of key terms of democratic governance and social change through transformations of information and communication technologies. 

Projections of Identity and Transformations of Capacity

In this research arc, Kennedy analyzes and elaborates cultural practices that enable the transformation of human and social capacity.  

a) Recognizing the necessity of attachment to realize transformation, he has explored his own hometown’s search for grounding through the memorialization of a lost industry, Bethlehem Steel https://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/biography/v037/37.1.kennedy.pdf

b) Together with colleagues from Warsaw and Providence, he has recently begun to study the travel and translation of capacity-building social entrepreneurship http://watson.brown.edu/events/2015/between-criticism-and-co-action-meeting-need-new-kind-relationship-between-policy-makers  

c) He is currently writing about the process and consequence of transformations of self and community through heroic identifications and artistic projections across national and social differences.

d) Kennedy anticipates in the coming year to turn his work teaching about Martial Arts, Culture and Society (https://www.academia.edu/4319567/_2013_Martial_Arts_Culture_and_Society_Fall_2013_Syllabus_in_Sociology_for_students_at_Brown_University) into a more general cultural transformational sociology that articulates proprioceptive awareness in social change.


(2016) “Bernie Sanders for Rhode Island” RIFuture April 25, 2016 http://www.rifuture.org/bernie-sanders-for-rhode-island.html

(2015) “We Are Seeing You: Protesting Violent Democracies in Kosova”, Michael D. Kennedy and Linda Gusia. Open Democracy / ISA RC-47: Open Movements, 11 Decemberhttps://opendemocracy.net/michael-d-kennedy-linda-gusia/we-are-seeing-you-protesting-violent-democracies-in-kosova

(2015) Globalizing Knowledge: Intellectuals, Universities, and Publics in Transformation (Stanford University Press) (for the book’s commentaries, etc. see https://www.academia.edu/10282109/Extensions_of_Globalizing_Knowledge

(2015) Substantial Revision to (2001)  “Eastern European Studies: Culture” in James D. Wright (editor in chief) International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, second edition. Volume 6. Oxford: Elsevier (pp. 805-809).

(2014) “Rewriting the Death and Afterlife of a Corporation: Bethlehem Steel” Biography 37:1(242-74)

(2014) “From Affirmative to Critical Solidarity in Politics” pp. 30-47 in Ernst Stetter, Karl Duffek and Ania Skrzypek (eds.) Framing a New Progressive Narrative FEPS Belgium. http://www.feps-europe.eu/en/news/586_next-left-vol-viii

(2013) “Russia’s Energy Relations in Europe and the Far East: Towards a Social Structurationist Approach to Energy Policy Formation” Journal of International Relations and Development 13:1:1-29 (Pami Aalto, David Dusseault, Michael D. Kennedy and Markku Kivinen)

(2012) “Cultural Formations of the European Union: Integration, Enlargement, Nation and Crisis” pp. 17-50 in Rebecca Friedman and Markus Thiel (eds.) European Identity and Culture: Narratives of Transnational Belonging Aldershot: Ashgate.

(2011) “Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and Historical Frames: 2011, 1989, 1968” Jadaliyya http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/2853/arab-spring-occupy-wall-street-and-historical-fram


Sociology 1950: Senior Seminar concentrators in Sociology

Advanced research seminar for sociology concentrators. Students take each semester in senior year to work on an honors thesis. Participants examine methods for analyzing, writing, and presenting thesis material and apply peer review techniques in assessing each other's work. Culminates in presentation of thesis to the department. Students doing independent study research may also participate with the instructor's permission. Required for "honors" in sociology. WRIT

SOC1871R-S01 Knowledge Networks and Global Transformation

How do refined knowledge and the social relations that organize and distribute it influence changes in the institutions, inequalities and cultural systems and practices that define particular world regions and global formations? And how do global transformations influence the trajectories of knowledge production themselves? We will examine particular knowledge-identified agents, including universities, research institutes, think tanks, and professional associations, to consider why they approach global transformations in the way that they do. And we will consider how particular kinds of global transformations, from the end of the cold war and the transformation of information/communication technology to the last financial crisis, affect knowledge production itself. By exploring intersections between global complexity and reflexivity in this fashion, we hope to increase our own capacities for seeing the world not only as it is, but how knowledge might be used in making better alternatives for the future. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors. WRIT

News|Recent News

Poland Lacks a Coherent Historical Policy (comments by Michael Kennedy)

January 6, 2016 Wyborcza

Watson Fall '15 visitor Michal Luczewski comments on the politics in Germany and Russia in order to illuminate the ways in which the politics of history might be engaged in Poland. He concludes by quoting Watson's Michael Kennedy: "Solidarity is something too precious to leave to just the Poles."