The Irving Kenneth Zola Prize for Excellence in Sociology

Irving Kenneth Zola (1935–1994) was a beloved professor in the Department of Sociology and an eminent medical sociologist. Irv was born in Boston in 1935, received his PhD from Harvard in 1962, and joined the Brandeis faculty a year later. He taught at Brandeis for 31 years until he died suddenly of a heart attack in 1994. Irv served the department for many years as a chair and influenced generations of students with his creative teaching style, intellectual enthusiasm and wide-ranging knowledge.

Irv was an innovative thinker in medical sociology and a pioneer in the sociology of disability. He published scores of articles, several considered classics in the field, and half a dozen books. Irv had a physical disability and walked with two canes. His transformation into a disability activist and scholar is powerfully depicted in his now classic book Missing Pieces. He founded and edited the journal Disability Studies Quarterly and helped found the Society for Disability Studies. He also wrote compelling short stories, many based on his life experiences.

Irv received many accolades for his scholarly work. He served as Chair of the Medical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association and as President of the Eastern Sociological Society. He received numerous awards including the N. Neal Pike Prize for Service to the Handicapped, the Leo G. Reeder Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Sociology, and the Lee Founders Award given by the Society for the Study of Social Problems.

Irv was a wonderful colleague, inspiring teacher, and supportive mentor. He had a remarkable mind, an infectious sense of humor, and nurturing temperament. To many students he was a marvelous intellectual midwife; his humanity gave others strength. He was, in the Yiddish he loved, “a mensche among mensches,” a wise man and a gentle soul.

In his spirit we honor an outstanding senior in sociology with the Irving Kenneth Zola Prize.


Quinn Weiner, 2021

Kavita Megha Sundarum, 2020

Rebecca Margalit Hersch, 2019

Ruby Nel Macsai-Goren, 2018

Aja Janine Antoine, 2017

Shayna Rose Rubenstein, 2016

Holly Elizabeth Rutledge, 2016

The Elise Boulding Sociology and Social Activism Award

This prize is for a student who best exemplifies the thoughtful application of Sociological analysis to their own activist endeavors.

Elise Boulding (1920–2010) was one of the major figures in the field of Peace Studies within the United States and internationally. She chaired the Sociology Department at Dartmouth College for many years and was one of the major inspiring figures in the systematic application

of sociology to understanding social discord and acting thoughtfully to move beyond it. She spent her later years living locally and took part in numerous PAX events at Brandeis.


Elias Rosenfeld, 2021

Miriam Berro Krugman, 2020

Noa Anna Buchalter, 2019

Saren Elizabeth McAllister, 2018

Chinyere Anasha Brown, 2017

Justin Lee Bradshaw, 2016

The Dewey-Boyte Prize for the Scholarship and Practice of Democracy

Named after John Dewey (1859–1952), America’s most distinguished philosopher of democracy, and Harry Boyte, a prominent contemporary theorist and practitioner of a reinvigorated democratic commonwealth, the Dewey-Boyte prize honors students who have combined excellent scholarship with active civic engagement and effective democratic leadership. It recognizes work of distinction in line with Dewey’s most basic insight that democracy is not just a form of government, “but a way of life,” and that “democracy needs to be reborn in each generation and education is its midwife.”


Amber Crossman, 2021

Jonah Nguyen, 2021

Tayla Guenzburger, 2020

Brianna Nicole Brown, 2019

Yael Sammi Jaffe, 2018

Jamie Wong, 2017

Amaris Diana Brown, 2016

Molly Potter Pearlman, 2016