In a move administrators characterized as a major boost to the University’s internationalization efforts, Yale tapped a leading scholar of comparative politics and international law to take an interdisciplinary professorship in the Law School and Political Science Department this fall.
Alec Stone Sweet, who since 1998 had headed the Comparative Government Department at Oxford University, was tenured this semester as an interdisciplinary professor under the auspices of the Yale Center for International and Area Studies. Stone Sweet, who specializes in European court systems and international relations, came to New Haven as part of the University’s plan to expand global course offerings.
“It seems to me that Stone Sweet is the perfect example of the kind of interdisciplinary, international focus that we’re trying to promote,” Political Science chairman William Foltz said. “I’m looking forward to a lively and, I hope, long collaboration.”
Stone Sweet fills a gap in the Yale’s international faculty created when Arjun Appadurai, a decorated professor of globalization, left the University after just three semesters as a YCIAS professor to become provost of the New School University in New York.
Yale administrators and professors said they were pleased with Stone Sweet’s appointment, particularly since they said he has expressed a desire to stay long-term.
“I think Alec Stone Sweet is really committed to making a career at Yale, so I think that’s very exciting,” said law professor Daniel Esty, who directs the Yale World Fellows Program. “It gives Yale an opportunity to hire some real talent to really beef up the scholarly issues with internationalization and globalization.”
Stone Sweet is teaching two courses on European court systems at the Law School this semester. Though he is not scheduled to teach any undergraduate courses this year, Foltz said Stone Sweet will soon begin teaching political science courses for undergraduates.
Stone Sweet, who did not return calls seeking comment this weekend, earned degrees from Western Washington University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Washington. He has published three books, including a highly-regarded study of judicial politics in France, and has edited six volumes.
Neil Fligstein, a sociology professor at the University of California at Berkeley who has written several articles and books with Stone Sweet, called his colleague a “renaissance man.”
“I think he’s very energetic and stimulating, and he’s intellectually engaged in a way that students will really find compelling and exciting,” Fligstein said.
Yves Meny, president of the European University Institute in Italy, worked with Stone Sweet while researching the French judicial system. He said Stone Sweet will be an asset for Yale.
“I think he’s an extremely dynamic person, extremely committed and dedicated,” Meny said. “When he decided to work on France, he decided to really dive into all possible aspects of French life.”
Stone Sweet has developed several non-academic passions as well — he has recorded three acoustic guitar albums and competed on the U.S. national petanque team at the world championships in Geneva last year. A classically trained cordon bleu chef, he has also written articles on French food and wine in Bon Appetit, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue magazines.