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Faculty & Research

Timothy Patrick McCarthy

Lecturer on Education
Harvard Kennedy School

Timothy Patrick McCarthy

Degree:  Ph.D., Columbia University, (2006)
Email:  [javascript protected email address]
Faculty Assistant:  Jeffrey Brisbin


Timothy McCarthy is an award-winning historian, educator, and human rights activist who has taught on Harvard’s faculty since 2005. The adopted only son and grandson of public school teachers and factory workers, McCarthy currently holds a joint appointment in the undergraduate honors program in history and literature, Graduate School of Education, and Kennedy School of Government, where he is core faculty at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. He is also Academic Director emeritus and now Stanley Paterson Professor of American History in the Boston Clemente Course, a free college course for lower income adults in Dorchester, where he has taught since its founding in 2001. The Clemente Course was co-recipient of the 2015 National Humanities Medal.

McCarthy graduated with honors in history and literature from Harvard College and earned his M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in history from Columbia University. A noted historian of politics and social movements, he is the author or editor of five books from the New Press, including the forthcoming Stonewall’s Children: Living Queer History in an Age of Liberation, Loss, and Love. A frequent media commentator whose work has been featured in Salon, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Pangyrus, Gay and Lesbian Review, The Nation, NPR, and several documentary films, he was guest editor for The Nation’s historic “Reclaiming Stonewall 50” forum in June 2019.

Twice named one of Harvard Crimson’s “Professors of the Year,” McCarthy has received many awards for his commitment to students, including the 2015 Dean’s Award for Exceptional Leadership on Diversity and Inclusion and the 2019 Manuel C. Carballo Award, the Kennedy School’s highest teaching honor. Dr. McCarthy is also one of ten faculty members from across Harvard whose teaching is showcased in HGSE’s Instructional Moves Project. In May 2020, amidst the COVID pandemic, Kennedy School graduates selected him to deliver the faculty address, “Precedented Bravery,” at their virtual Class Day ceremony.

Inspired by the activism and organizing of his student years, McCarthy has devoted his life to public service and social justice. Since 1990, he has been a brother to Malcolm Green, now 34, whom he met as an undergraduate while volunteering as an after-school teacher in the Cambridge public schools. As founding director of Harvard’s Alternative Spring Break Church Rebuilding Program, he spent fifteen years organizing hundreds of students to help rebuild Black churches destroyed in racist arson attacks throughout the United States. A respected leader in the LGBTQ+ community, McCarthy was a founding member of Barack Obama’s National LGBT Leadership Council, gave expert testimony to the Pentagon Comprehensive Working Group on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and was part of the first-ever LGBTQ delegation from the United States to Palestine/Israel. He currently serves as Board Chair for Free the Slaves, a leading global NGO in the fight against modern slavery, and also hosts and directs A.R.T. of Human Rights and Resistance Mic! through the Tony Award-winning American Repertory Theater, where he serves on the Board of Advisors.

Click here to see a full list of Timothy McCarthy's courses.

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