CUNY Graduate Center professor elected to honorary and prestigious society

Graduate Center Professor

The Graduate Center

Rachel Dalloo

The CUNY Graduate Center recently named professor Ruth Wilson Gilmore to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which is one of the United States’ oldest and most prestigious honorary societies.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which was founded in 1780, showcases individuals who further their knowledge with the purpose of addressing societal issues.

Many Academy members professionally excel in fields including the arts and humanities, social policy, education, global affairs and science and technology.

“I’m delighted the USA’s most venerable society of artists and scholars recognizes the urgency and vitality of scholarship involved in fights for economic, social, spatial and racial justice,” Gilmore said. “CUNY should play a major role in such struggles, given where and who we are. I trust the honor will encourage my institution, and the City and State of New York, to expand and deepen public education for the public good.”

At the Graduate Center, Gilmore teaches earth and environmental sciences for its Ph.D. program.  Her work focuses on the ending of “structural inequalities that contribute to the vulnerability and premature deaths of millions throughout the world,” according to a CUNY report.

Throughout her career, Gilmore has partnered with union groups, grassroots organizations, indigenous movements, environmental justice groups and urban and rural people across the world to help advance her findings.

According to a CUNY report, Gilmore is widely known for creating the ideology of “carceral geography,” which is the examination of the relationships between landscape, natural resources, infrastructure and the political economy.

“The Graduate Center congratulates Professor Gilmore on her election to the American Academy of Art and Sciences,” Robin Garrell, president of the Graduate Center, said. “Through her innovative scholarship and activism, she has challenged societal norms, catalyzing grassroots initiatives to address persistent inequality and injustice. She is also a treasured mentor and adviser for our students and alumni, exemplifying our mission to enhance the public good through outstanding scholarship and education.”

Gilmore is very active within the community at the Graduate Center. There, she leads the Center for Place and the Culture and Politics.

She is also a part of the executive committee of the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean.

Gilmore joins approximately 251 new members who are now a part of the Academy. Other notable members include former Interim President of the Graduate Center Joy Connolly, Oprah Winfrey and legal scholar and civil rights advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw.

Other members include playwright, screenwriter and actor Suzan-Lori Parks, neurosurgeon and CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, playwright David Henry Hwang and journalist Kara Swisher, according to the Graduate Center’s press release.

“We are honoring the excellence of these individuals, celebrating what they have achieved so far, and imagining what they will continue to accomplish,” David Oxtoby, president of the Academy, said. “The past year has been replete with evidence of how things can get worse; this is an opportunity to illuminate the importance of art, ideas, knowledge, and leadership that can make a better world.”

In 2019, The New York Times Magazine published a profile of Gilmore.

“Gilmore has shaped the thinking of many geographers, as well as generations of graduate students and activists,” Rachel Kushner, the author of the piece, wrote.