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Faculty Profile

Realist with Vision

By Steve Stamas

"The goal of every teacher in a great university is to achieve a feeling of intimacy on a large scale." The crowd which packs Emerson 211 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to listen to Professor Sigmund Neumann talk on "Europe in World Politics" attests to his success in doing just that.

Neumann dreads large classes. Once, lecturing before a large group of students at Yale, he had occasion to criticize John Gunther's pseudo-Freudian explanations of famous men and events and went on to dissect thoroughly the famous author. At the end of the lecture, a sweet young thing who had been sitting in the back row of the spacious room came up and introduced herself as Mrs. Gunther. The experience left Neumann wary.

His Saxon accent reveals a rich European background. Born in Leipzig, Germany, Neumann did his undergraduate work at the University of Leipzig and went on to Heidelberg and Grenoble in France for graduate study. Later, he joined the staff of the Deutsche Hochschule fur Politik in Berlin, the only political science school in Germany.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, Neumann crossed the Channel and joined Arnold Toynbee at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. He was lecturing in the London School of Economics when a call arrived from Wesleyan University. Hastily looking up the Connecticut school, of which he had never heard, Neumann made his way to America and started the teaching career that has made him a popular figure on the sprawling Wesleyan campus.

He has definite ideas on teaching. He believes strongly that political science can only be studied with the perspective of the whole social science field. He has taught courses in history, economics, and sociology, stressing always the interdependence of the social sciences. From his own experience, he also feels that teaching and research belong together, the researcher gaining much from the personal contacts of instructing.

Having taught in both Europe and in this country, Neumann is thoroughly sold on American education. Because it does not separate the scholar from the man, our education creates a social individual better fitted for leadership and responsibility, he believes.

During the war, he helped train senior officers in military government and worked with the OSS in Washington. In 1949 he returned to Germany as a visiting expert on education and helped reestablish the Deutsche Hochschule fur Politik which had been dissolved by the Nazis. He also visited his old colleague, Theodor Heuss, now President of the West German Republic.

Amazingly enough, Neumann has found time to write profusely. In 1942, he published a study of revolution and followed it with "Future in Perspective," his account of the turbulent history of the twentieth century. He is currently working with other professors on a cooperative effort on international parties, his contribution being German parties.

In his own words, he looks upon the future as a "realist with vision." He does not recognize war as inevitable, but he feels that the next few decades will be a time of tension. "Education must play its part by producing capable leaders and citizens. If education can meet that challenge, a better world may yet be ahead."

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