Steinberg Named Lewis Chair of Sustainability and Society

January 9, 2014

Paul Steinberg, professor of political science and environmental policy, has been named to the newly established Malcolm Lewis Chair of Sustainability and Society, created with a gift from Cindy Lewis, wife of the late Malcolm Lewis ’67.

The endowed faculty chair honors Lewis’ legacy of socially aware, continuous innovation in energy and environmental sustainability. It also recognizes and supports an outstanding faculty member in the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts whose research, teaching and service focus on issues related to sustainability and its relationship with and impact upon society.

“Malcolm deeply appreciated the relationship between green design and social policy, and I think he would be delighted to know that Paul Steinberg is the inaugural holder of the Lewis Chair,” said Jeffrey Groves, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. “Malcolm and Paul had great respect for each other, and they shared a commitment to environmental responsibility. Paul will carry that commitment forward, honoring Malcolm’s life and work.”

Endowed faculty chairs are among the highest recognition accorded to a faculty member. An endowed chair honors and recognizes the distinction of outstanding faculty while providing invaluable support for salary, research, teaching or service activities.

Malcolm Lewis '67
Malcolm Lewis ’67

“This is an incredible honor. Malcolm Lewis was not only a visionary and a global leader in green building design, but also a dear friend,” said Steinberg. “By emphasizing the human dimensions of environmental problems, the title of this endowed position recognizes that sustainability is not merely a personal choice—it is a social choice. For me, the distinction is a reminder that Harvey Mudd College and its constituencies take seriously that part of the College mission that emphasizes social impact.”

Steinberg has spent the past 20 years studying biodiversity conservation and the human dimensions of global environmental problems. Before joining the Harvey Mudd faculty in 2003, he was a visiting scholar at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. He also served as founding director of a new policy program at RARE Conservation and as a research consultant to The World Bank and Conservation International. 
He is the author of three books: Who Rules the Earth? (Oxford University Press), Comparative Environmental Politics (MIT Press) and Environmental Leadership in Developing Countries (MIT Press), which won the Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for the best book in international environmental affairs.

His animated film Who Rules the Earth?  was accepted into the 2014 Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Nevada City, Calif. Written and produced by Steinberg, the film is part of The Social Rules Project, which shares insights from 20 years of social science research and reveals ways individuals can shift society toward a more sustainable future.

Engineering alumnus Malcolm Lewis held a lifelong commitment to Harvey Mudd College. He was the first alumnus elected to the College’s board of trustees (1973) and its first alumnus chair (2012), serving on the board continuously for 39 years.  Active in the development of the LEED green building rating system, he was the driving force behind the LEED certification of the Sontag Residence Hall, Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons and the R. Michael Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning. He and his wife, Cindy, also established the Patton and Claire Lewis Fellowship program to provide students with the opportunity to be mentored by professional engineers within academia and industry while gaining practical experience.