Mitchell L. Stevens

Director – Stanford

Mitchell L. Stevens is Associate Professor of Education and (by courtesy) Organizational Behavior and Sociology at Stanford University.  Previous appointments include New York University (2003-2009) and Hamilton College (1996-2003).  He received his PhD in Sociology from Northwestern University in 1996.

Stevens has longstanding interests in the management of individualism in human-service organizations, and in the role of quantification in organizational decision-making. With Wendy Nelson Espeland, he has written on the evolution of measurement as a peculiarly important social form (2008, 1998). 

His first book, Kingdom of Children: Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement(Princeton, 2001), is an organizational analysis of the rise of a controversial and now global educational phenomenon.

Over the last decade Stevens has turned his attention to the study of universities, contributing to a renaissance of social-science inquiry into higher education in Europe and North America. His second book, Creating a Class: College Admissions and the Education of Elites (Harvard, 2007) assesses the consequences of the quantification of youthful accomplishment for the organization of American culture generally.  Professional recognitions of Creating a Class include the Pierre Bourdieu Award of the American Sociological Association’s Education Section.

Stevens’ current research includes two projects on the organization of higher education. The first, a collaboration with Cynthia Miller-Idriss (NYU) and Seteney Shami (Arab Council for the Social Sciences), is a comparative study of how U.S. research universities have formally organized research on world regions since World War II.  The second, supported with funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is a collaborative effort to build a more robust supply-side social science of broad-access colleges and universities in the United States. 

Stevens is active in Stanford University's efforts to take world leadership in the digital transformation of higher education.  With colleague Roy Pea, he co-convenes the Education's Digital Future project in Stanford's Graduate School of Education (