My Wellesley
Thomas Cushman

Thomas Cushman

Founding Director of The Freedom Project. Deffenbaugh de Hoyos Carlson Professor in the Social Sciences; Professor of Sociology

Thomas Cushman is Founding Direcor of The Freedom Project and Deffenbaugh de Hoyos Carlson Professor in the Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College. He has served as Chairman of the Wellesley Sociology Department twice.

Professor Cushman’s teaching and research over his career at Wellesley focus on sociological theory, comparative sociology, genocide, human rights, dissent and freedom of expression, and the sociology of knowledge, ideology, and intellectuals.

In the past few years at Wellesley, in addition to required courses on sociological theory (including Contemporary Social Theory), he has taught several new classes on themes: The Individual and SocietyDissent and Freedom of Expression in the Global ContextModernity and Social ChangeTopics in Human Rights, and Freedom: Great Debates on Liberty and Morality (with Professor Jonathan Imber). 

In 2001, he founded and is currently editor-at-large of the Journal of Human RightsHe is the Director of The Freedom Project at Wellesley College, which aims to foster intellectual pluralism, debate, tolerance, and diversity of viewpoints at the College

Over the course of his career, his writings have focused on a wide range of topics, all of which can be characterized by a common theme of freedom and its repression in human societies.

His publications include Notes from Underground: Rock Music Counterculture in Russia, which was named as one of Choice’s Outstanding Academic Books in 1995; George Orwell: Into the 21st Century, with John Rodden (Paradigm, 2005); A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq, editor (University of California Press, 2005); Terror, Iraq and the Left: Christopher Hitchens and His Critics, edited with Simon Cottee (New York University Press, 2008); and The Religious in Responses to Mass Atrocity, edited with Thomas Brudholm (Cambridge University Press, 2009). He is the editor of The Routledge Handbook of Human Rights (2011), a standard reference work, which presents 60 original essays from leading scholars across the world and across the disciplines on all areas of human rights.

His current book project is a global study of dissidents in modern authoritarian societies who are moral exemplars of civil courage and whose lives testify to the meaning and importance of freedom  and what it means to be human. 

Profession Cushman has been actively involved in bringing social science perspectives to the understanding of public policy issues. He has given talks in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, offered testimony to the U.S. Congress Committee on Foreign Relations on human rights issues, and writes often on public policy issues.  

He is a Faculty Fellow at The Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University and has been a Visiting Professor at Brandeis University and Birkbeck College, University of London. He was an Honorary Professor in the Social Sciences at The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa from 2008-2011 and an External Examiner at Lingnan University, Hong Kong in 2009-2010.  


Recent Events

"Freedom of Expression and Political Polarization in America" (John Locke Foundation, Raleigh, NC)

"Censura, identidad y correccion politica" (Interview with Fundacion para el Progreso, Santiago, Chile)

"Safe Spaces and Free Speech" (Panel at the Wake Forest University Pro Humanitate Institute)


Recent Press

"Vivimos en una epoca de la antiilustracion; todo el mundo vive en sus propias tribus" (El Mercurio del Valparaiso, Chile)

"What The Freedom Project at Wellesley College Stands For" (Podcast)

"The Problem with the Term 'Safe Space'" (Washington Post)

"Reasons Behind the British Vote to Leave the E.U." (New York Times)

"Policing University Partnerships in Authoritarian Countries" (New York Times)

"What Wellesley's Reading" (Podcast)