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Lee Epstein named Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar

Lee Epstein will deliver public lectures and participate in academic life at 80 institutions of higher learning. (Photo/Roger Snider)

Lee Epstein, Provost Professor of Law and Political Science at the USC Gould School of Law, has been selected to serve as a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar for the 2013-14 academic year. She is one of 14 distinguished scholars in the liberal arts and sciences chosen by the national honor society to deliver public lectures and participate in academic life at 80 institutions of higher learning.

“I’m thrilled by this honor and look forward to participating in the academic life of the schools I’ll visit,” Epstein said. “It has all the makings of an exciting intellectual adventure.”

Epstein, holder of the Rader Family Trustee Chair in Law, will travel to eight institutions that house Phi Beta Kappa chapters. She will meet with students and faculty, participate in seminars, class discussions and colloquia, and deliver public lectures on a range of topics relating to the U.S. Supreme Court, constitutional law and judicial behavior.

A nationally renowned interdisciplinary scholar, Epstein is one of only 10 provost professors at USC. In her work, she examines judicial decision-making, the politics of judicial appointments, law and judicial politics, law and social science, and empirical legal research.

She has pioneered the application of empirical analysis to judicial decision-making, publishing 14 books in the process. Her latest project, The Behavior of Federal Judges: A Theoretical and Empirical Study of Rational Choice, will be published later this year by Harvard University Press. She has also authored or co-authored more than 100 articles and essays.

Most recently, Epstein edited the fall issue of Daedalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In the issue, titled “On Public Opinion,” 11 prominent scholars examined why public opinion matters, how it is shaped and to what extent it influences public policy. The issue included Epstein’s essay “On the Importance of Public Opinion.”

An expert on constitutional law and the federal courts, Epstein is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Political and Social Science. She is the co-editor of The Journal of Law, Economics and Organization; president of the International Society for New Institutional Economics; and principal investigator for the National Science Foundation-funded project on the Supreme Court database.

Epstein came to USC in 2011 from Northwestern University, where she held a university-wide chair as the Henry Wade Rogers Professor.

As a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, Epstein joins an elite group whose past honorees include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Nobel Prize winners, and Pulitzer Prize-winning writers and journalists.

The Phi Beta Kappa program seeks to energize the intellectual lives of undergraduates and promote their active participation in the life of the mind. Over the program’s 56 years, a total of 4,917 visits have been made by 600 visiting scholars.

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