Michael D. Bess

Michael D. Bess

Fellow: Awarded 2008
Field of Study: Intellectual and Cultural History

Competition: US & Canada

Vanderbilt University

Michael Bess, Chancellor’s Professor of History at Vanderbilt University, is a specialist in twentieth-century Europe, with a particular interest in the social and cultural impacts of technological change. He is the author of three books: Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II (Knopf, 2006); The Light-Green Society: Ecology and Technological Modernity in France, 1960-2000 (2003), which won the George Perkins Marsh prize (2004) of the American Society for Environmental History and an Honorable Mention (2004) from the Pinkney Prize committee of the Society for French Historical Studies; and Realism, Utopia, and the Mushroom Cloud: Four Activist Intellectuals and Their Strategies for Peace, 1945-1989 (1993).

As a Guggenheim Fellow, he is currently writing a research monograph entitled Icarus 2.0: Technology, Ethics, and the Quest to Build a Better Human.

Mr. Bess has received fellowships or grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Institutes of Health / National Human Genome Research Institute, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Fulbright research grants program, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and the University of California’s Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation.

Since receiving his Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1989, Mr. Bess has been a faculty member at Vanderbilt University. He teaches undergraduate courses on World War II, twentieth-century Europe, and Western Civilization, as well as specialized seminars on environmentalism, the boundaries of the human, or utopian thought. His graduate courses include a survey of the historiography on twentieth-century Europe, and a semester-long workshop to train graduate students for teaching history at the college level. Mr. Bess has been awarded the Ellen Gregg Ingalls Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching and the Chair of Teaching Excellence.


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