Kenneth Prewitt

Kenneth Prewitt

Research Interest


Kenneth Prewitt joined the faculty of SIPA in 2002 as the Carnegie Professor. Professor Prewitt's research includes the use of ethnoracial classification in national statistics. In 2013, Princeton U. Press published his What is Your Race? The Census and Our Flawed Effort to Classify Americans. He has authored or co-authored a dozen books and more than 100 articles and book chapters.  He is currently Director of The Future of Scholarly Knowledge, a project based at Columbia, which was motivated in part by a National Academies of Science report he chaired and co-edited: Using Science as Evidence in Policy Making.  He is Guest Editor, Social Research (Fall 2017) that is publishing papers from a New School conference on Future of Scholarly Knowledge topics.

Professor Prewitt has had a professional career outside the classroom, as Director of the U.S. Census Bureau (1998-2001), Director of the National Opinion Research Center, President of the Social Science Research Council, and Senior Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation. He has served on several dozen Boards and Advisory Committees. Among his awards is an honorary degree from Carnegie Mellon University; the Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany; Charles E. Merriam Lifetime Career Award, APSR.

At Columbia he was the Vice-President for Columbia Global Centers for six years, and for five years has been Special Advisor to the President, currently advising on Columbia World Projects.

He earned his B.A. from SMU in 1958, M.A. from Washington University in 1959, Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University in 1963. From 1965 to 1982 he was on the faculty of the University of Chicago. His other academic appointments include Dean of the Graduate Faculty at the New School University (2001-2002) and faculty positions at Stanford University, Washington University, the University of Nairobi, and Makerere University.