Politics Professor Mark Fathi Massoud recognized nationally for teaching and mentoring, research excellence

Portrait of Mark Massoud
Politics and Legal Studies Professor Mark Fathi Massoud

Mark Fathi Massoud is on a roll. The University of California, Santa Cruz, politics and legal studies professor won two awards during the recent American Political Science Association (APSA) annual meeting. Founded in 1903, APSA is the leading professional association for the study of political science, serving 11,000 members in more than 100 countries.

Massoud received the APSA Law & Courts Section Teaching and Mentoring Award for his teaching efforts within and beyond UC Santa Cruz. Massoud directs UCSC’s Legal Studies Program and is affiliated with the Center for the Middle East and North Africa. He is also a visiting professor at the University of Oxford Faculty of Law. 

Massoud is a past recipient of UC Santa Cruz’s Excellence in Teaching Award, and the APSA award committee praised “his intentionality in putting teaching and mentorship at the center of his mission.” 

“Mark gives generously of himself to students at all levels,” the committee said in a statement.

In undergraduate education, Massoud sparks students’ natural curiosity, creating opportunities for individualized learning and making the study of law and politics relevant to students’ lives and interests. 

Massoud has also organized workshops and mentoring programs for graduate students at UC Santa Cruz and across the world. While doing fieldwork in Somaliland, he taught research methods courses at a local university. He also organized writing and publishing workshops for African graduate students and postdoctoral scholars with colleagues at the University of Cape Town.

Massoud enjoys helping early career scholars “find their voice” in their academic writing, and he said he approaches his own research as a form of teaching. 

“I see teaching more broadly than what happens in a classroom,” Massoud said. “It also happens during office hours and when we create spaces for peer mentoring. It also happens through the publications we produce. The articles and books I write teach people new ways of thinking about what they already know, and that's what I try to do in the classroom too.”

In addition to the Teaching and Mentoring Award, Massoud received the APSA Ralph J. Bunche Award for his book, Shari‘a, Inshallah: Finding God in Somali Legal Politics. The Bunche Award, named after the UCLA graduate and political scientist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950, recognizes the best book in political science on ethnic and cultural pluralism. 

Shari‘a, Inshallah also earned accolades earlier this year, winning book awards from the American Sociological Association, Socio-Legal Studies Association, and the Association of American Publishers

The APSA Ralph J. Bunche Award is a discipline-wide award from nominated books across every subfield in political science. Internationally focused books, such as Shari‘a, Inshallah, rarely earn this award; in the past 30 years, all but two other Bunche Award-winning books have covered race or ethnicity in the United States. 

“To receive an award named for Ralph J. Bunche is very meaningful to me,” Massoud said. “Bunche taught political science, devoted his life to peace, and fought for ethnic and cultural pluralism in the United States and overseas. I am grateful that political scientists noticed my research and just as much that they noticed my teaching.”