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Michael Joseph Smith is the Thomas C. Sorenson Professor of Political and Social Thought and Associate Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia. He grew up in Yonkers, New York, where he attended public schools. He was an undergraduate at Harvard University, receiving his B.A. in 1973. He was then awarded a British Government Marshall Scholarship to Oxford University and received a Master of Philosophy degree from Oxford in 1976. After serving as a Lecturer in Politics at Merton College, Oxford for two years, he returned to Harvard for his Ph.D., which he received in 1982. He then taught as an Assistant Professor of Government and Social Studies at Harvard, and came to the University of Virginia in 1986.
At Virginia he currently directs the interdisciplinary, undergraduate Program in Political and Social Thought, and from 1994-99 he directed the Politics Department’s Distinguished Majors program. He teaches courses on human rights, political thought, and on ethics and international relations; from 1988-99 he also taught in the Politics Honors program. In 1995, Professor Smith led a National Endowment for the Humanities seminar for college professors on Teaching Ethics and International Relations. He won the All-University Teaching Award in 2002. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs in New York. In 2002-03, Prof. Smith was elected Chair of the University of Virginia Faculty Senate, and in 2003-04, President Casteen appointed him to co-chair the President’s Commission on Diversity and Equity.
Professor Smith is the author of Realist Thought from Weber to Kissinger (LSU, 1987) and co-author and co-editor (with Linda B. Miller) of Ideas and Ideals (Westview, 1992). He has also written extensively on the ethical dilemmas raised by contemporary international politics, most recently contributing to the United Nations International Commission on Sovereignty and Intervention. With Stanley Hoffmann of Harvard University he is working on a long-term book project about human rights and the ethical dilemmas of modern international relations.