In her response to Kenneth Prewitt’s piece "Can Social Science Matter?,” Lisa Anderson traces the historical relationship of social science to the modern state. As the state’s role in promoting the well-being of citizens becomes increasingly challenged, to what, or to whom, social science is now accountable similarly grows ambiguous, even as calls for its accountability grow.
Lisa Anderson most recently served as president of the American University in Cairo for five years, stepping down on January 1, 2016. Prior to her appointment as president, she was the university’s provost, a position she had assumed in 2008. As AUC provost and president, she navigated the university through the most significant political upheavals in its history while establishing new schools and programs. Dr. Anderson is dean emerita of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, where she led the school from 1997 to 2007, having been on the Columbia faculty since 1986. Before coming to Columbia, she taught at Harvard University in the government and social studies departments. Dr. Anderson’s research has included work on state formation in the Middle East and North Africa, regime change in the global south, and social science, academic research, and public policy both in the United States and around the world. Among her books are The State and Social Transformation in Tunisia and Libya, 1830-1980 and Pursuing Truth, Exercising Power: Social Science and Public Policy in the Twenty-First Century. Dr. Anderson is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations and served as chair of the Board of the Social Science Research Council (1998-2008).