Kerry Whiteside, the Clair R. McCollough Professor of Government, is the 2009 recipient of the Bradley R. Dewey Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Franklin & Marshall’s highest honor for scholarship. The following citation was presented to Whiteside during the College’s Commencement ceremony on May 16:
Kerry Whiteside, the Clair R. McCollough Professor of Government, joined the Franklin & Marshall College faculty in 1983 after receiving his Ph.D. from Princeton University. Professor Whiteside’s career exemplifies the global citizenship and international contribution we hope to inspire all our graduates to achieve.
Connecting with Europe has been Professor Whiteside’s destiny. His first two years of primary school were in The Hague, Netherlands, where his father was posted by the U.S. Navy, and those years left a deep mark. For his 2002 sabbatical, Professor Whiteside accepted a position as an invited professor at the National School of Political Science in Paris. A bicycle accident forced him to postpone his departure by several months, but when he finally arrived in France, he found that a straightforward lecture at the school had been reformatted as a debate. He gave his talk on French and American theories of environmental politics, and a lively conversation ensued, as the commentators included the two most prolific French scholars of environmental politics, a leader of the French Green Party and an editorialist from Le Monde newspaper. After the debate, one of the French scholars, Dominique Bourg, suggested that he and Professor Whiteside become research partners, and the two have since co-authored four articles and are currently working on a book together.
The delay in Professor Whiteside’s sabbatical had another unanticipated consequence; through a language exchange group, he met a French-Hungarian woman who, not two years later, would become his wife. In sum, it was a very productive sabbatical.
In addition to nearly 30 scholarly articles and chapters in edited volumes, Professor Whiteside has published three books. His doctoral research and his first book were on the French existential philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Thanks to the kindness of the philosopher’s widow, Professor Whiteside was the first scholar to interpret Merleau-Ponty’s political writings in light of his unpublished notes from the 1940s and ’50s.
After finishing that project, Professor Whiteside pursued a longstanding concern for environmental politics and he contrived to do so in a way that kept up his connections with Europe. In his second book, Divided Natures: French Contributions to Political Ecology, he analyzed how different conceptions of nature underlie environmental political theories in French and in English. His most recent book, Precautionary Politics, follows up on that analysis by comparing European and American approaches to risk management in matters such as regulating genetically modified crops and greenhouse gases. For his upcoming sabbatical, Professor Whiteside will work with Bourg on a book about the implications of global environmental challenges for representative government.
The 1998 recipient of the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award, Professor Whiteside brings to his teaching the same depth, probing intellect and lucidity that he demonstrates in his research. As proof of his commitment to student experience, Professor Whiteside has developed our flagship faculty-led study-abroad program, F&M in Paris, in which students are introduced to the culture, language and issues that have propelled Professor Whiteside’s own intellectual journey.
Professor Whiteside has served as a model faculty member, playing key roles on the Professional Standards Committee and serving as chair of the Government Department, among many other contributions.
Professor Whiteside is respected for his commitment to his scholarship, his students and the College. Franklin & Marshall College is proud to present him with its highest award for scholarship.