M. Brewster Smith selected to receive Social Sciences emeriti award

Emeritus Professor M. Brewster Smith

Social psychologist M. Brewster Smith, whose ground breaking insights into the ways in which people's political ideas relate to their personalities, has been selected to receive the 2010 Distinguished Social Sciences Emeriti Faculty Award.

Smith, 90, emeritus professor of psychology, remained active in research since he retired from UC Santa Cruz in 1988. His career spanning more than six decades has focused on the interplay of psychological and political processes. Most recently, Smith has drawn on psychological research to suggest ways to reduce the threat of nuclear war.

The committee that chose Smith noted his prolific publications and service as an elder statesman and advocate for psychology in the public interest as well as his success as a researcher, scholar, author, and teacher.

"His work is exquisitely sensitive to the political undertones of psychological theories and findings, earning him the recognition of being psychology's 'gentle conscience,'" the selection committee wrote, noting that Smith's "expert testimony contributed to the landmark ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education."

Smith will be honored at an award luncheon Thursday, April 15, 11:30 a.m.- 1:30 p.m. in the La Feliz Room at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center.

He coauthored the pioneering book Opinions and Personality published in 1956 as well as more than 300 other publications, including several books and the 2003 compilation For a Significant Social Psychology, his collected writings. In the forward, Smith wrote that he "continues to aspire to a 'personality and social psychology' that is interdisciplinary, scientific, humanistic, and socially relevant .."

In 2008, he was honored for Distinguished Theoretical and Philosophical Contributions to Psychology from a division of the American Psychological Association (APA). In announcing the award, the Society for Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology said Smith "has championed with force and clarity the need for psychology to engage in self-critical refection; to recognize and account for the significance of historical and sociocultural contexts; and to develop a socially relevant discipline."

Smith's career began at Harvard University, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1947. He subsequently served on the faculties of Vassar College, New York University, UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and UCSC, beginning in 1970.

For more information about the luncheon and to RSVP visit http://community.ucsc.edu/socsciemeritilunch.