Historian of human rights joins Harvard Law faculty

Samuel Moyn '01

Samuel Moyn ’01

Samuel Moyn ’01, a leading historian, will join the faculty of Harvard Law School starting July 1, 2014 as professor of law.

Moyn currently serves as James Bryce Professor of European Legal History in the Columbia University history department. He joined the Columbia faculty in 2001 as assistant professor, and was named professor of history in 2007.

Moyn, a prize-winning author and teacher, has focused his recent scholarship on the origins and trajectory of human rights. He has also written on the history of other topics in international law and comparative constitutional law, against the background of broad trends in political and cultural life. He teaches and works on modern European and American thought and its development more broadly, with a focus on moral, political and legal theory.

“Sam Moyn’s deep learning is rivaled only by his originality,” said Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow. “His work on the history of human rights gives experts as well as students so much food for thought. An outstanding teacher, he is also an expert in European intellectual history with crucial implications for ongoing issues of law and justice. We are delighted to welcome him back to his alma mater and I look forward to being his colleague.”

Moyn’s book “The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History” was published by Harvard University Press in 2010. “Human Rights and the Uses of History,” a collection of essays, is forthcoming this spring from Verso. He has authored and edited many other volumes and has written numerous articles and reviews. (See a more complete list of his writings). He is the editor of Humanity, an interdisciplinary journal of human rights, humanitarianism, and development.

In 2007, Moyn received Columbia’s annual Mark Van Doren Award for outstanding undergraduate teaching and the Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award for “unusual merit across a range of professorial activities.” In 2008, he won a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship.

“It is a wonderful privilege to join the HLS faculty,” Moyn said. “I look forward most of all to the opportunity to learn from such insightful colleagues and talented students.”

In addition to a J.D. from HLS, Moyn holds a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis (1994) and a Ph.D. in European history from the University of California-Berkeley (2000).