(781) 283-2142
B.A., Saint Michael’s College; M.A., Ph.D., University of Virginia

Thomas Orton Cushman
Deffenbaugh de Hoyos Carlson Professor in the Social Sciences; Professor of Sociology

Interested in the interdisciplinary study of rights, social theory, modernity, freedom and dissent. Founder of The Journal of Human Rights.

Thomas Cushman is Deffenbaugh de Hoyos Carlson Professor in the Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College. He has served as Chairman of the Wellesley Sociology Department twice.


Professor Cushman’s teaching and research  over  a quarter century at Wellesley include sociological theory, comparative sociology, genocide and human rights, and the sociology of culture (focusing especially on the relations between knowledge, ideology, and intellectuals). His books have focused on a wide range of topics, all of which can be characterized by a common theme of freedom and its repression in human societies: cultural dissidence in Russia, genocide, propaganda, freedom of expression, and the wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Iraq.

In 2001, he founded and is currently the editor-at-large of the  Journal of Human Rights.

His publications include George Orwell: Into the 21st Century, with John Rodden (Paradigm, 2005); A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq, editor (University of California Press, 2005);Terror, Iraq and the Left: Christopher Hitchens and His Critics, edited with Simon Cottee (New York University Press, 2008); and The Religious in Responses to Mass Atrocity, edited with Thomas Brudholm (Cambridge University Press, 2009). He is the editor of The Routledge Handbook of Human Rights (2011),  a standard reference work which presents 60 original essays across the disciplines on all areas of human rights.

Professor Cushman has received grants from The American Council of Learned Societies and National Science Foundation. He is a Faculty Fellow at The Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University and has been a Visiting Professor at Brandeis University and  Birkbeck College, University of London. He was an Honorary Professor in the Social Sciences at The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa from 2008-2o11 and an External Examiner at Lingnan University, Hong Kong in 2009-2010. He has twice given speeches in the  Parliament of the United Kingdom and given testimony to the U.S. Congress Committee on Foreign Relations on human rights issues.

He is the director of The Freedom Project at Wellesley College ( and is currently at work on a  study of dissidents in modern authoritarian societies who are moral exemplars of civil courage and whose lives  testify to the meaning of freedom  and what it means to be human.