Wade M. Cole

Curriculum Vitae

Wade M. Cole portrait
  • Associate Professor, Sociology Department


Research Statement

Wade Cole (Ph.D., Stanford University, 2006) is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Utah. A macrosociologist, he conducts research in the areas of political sociology and global/transnational sociology, with substantive emphases in human rights and the rights of minority groups. He previously held positions at Montana State University, where he was Assistant Professor of Sociology, and the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, where he conducted policy-relevant education research for the Washington State Legislature.

Wade is author of Uncommon Schools: The Global Rise of Postsecondary Institutions for Indigenous Peoples (Stanford University Press, 2011). His recent work focuses on (1) the impact of global human rights norms, treaties, and institutions on country-level practices, and (2) changes in the content of the formal curriculum at minority-serving and women’s colleges in the United States. This work has appeared in journals such as American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, Social Science Research, Sociological Forum, and Sociology of Education, and has been supported financially by the American Educational Research Association, the Spencer Foundation, and the National Academy of Education.

Wade is currently at work on a book project, under the provisional title What's Old Is New Again: A Historical Idealist Account of Human Rights, that analyzes the dialectical underpinnings of the global human rights project. The project seeks to understand how two pivotal world-historical watersheds -- the Protestant Reformation and World War II -- propelled the development of human rights as a universalistic ideology or ethic for the modern world. He contends that the notion of human rights synthesizes a series of five interconnected "dynamic dualisms" in Western thought: sacrality and secularity, individual and state, body and soul, morality and rationalization, and universalism and particularism. This historical and ideational approach seeks to make sense of the international human rights regime's contemporary and quite material successes and failures worldwide.


Cole, Wade M. 2011. Uncommon Schools: The Global Rise of Postsecondary Institutions for Indigenous Peoples. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Reviewed in American Journal of Sociology: “Cole’s book is important precisely because it is so cognizant of the wider social and political milieu of indigenous claims making vis-à-vis modern nation states . . . . A book with a rare combination of elements—it is diachronic, interdisciplinary, theoretically strong, empirically grounded, and (particularly unusual for those books that focus primarily on the U.S. context) also consciously international.”

Selected Articles

Cole, Wade M. 2016. "Human Rights and the Individual: Cross-Cultural Variation in Human Rights Scores, 1980 to 2010." Social Forces 95(2): 721–752.

Cole, Wade M. 2015. “International Human Rights and Domestic Income Inequality: A Difficult Case of Compliance in World Society.” American Sociological Review 80(2): 359–390.

Cole, Wade M. 2015. “Mind the Gap: State Capacity and the Implementation of Human Rights Treaties.” International Organization 69(2): 405–441.

Cole, Wade M. 2013. "Strong Walk and Cheap Talk: The Effect of the International Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights on Policies and Practices." Social Forces 92(1): 165–194.

Cole, Wade M., and Francisco O. Ramirez. 2013. “Conditional Decoupling: Assessing the Impact of National Human Rights Institutions, 1981–2004.” American Sociological Review 78(4): 702–725.

Cole, Wade M. 2012. “A Civil Religion for World Society: The Direct and Diffuse Effects of Human Rights Treaties, 1981–2007.” Sociological Forum 27(4): 937–960.

Cole, Wade M. 2012. “Human Rights as Myth and Ceremony? Reevaluating the Effectiveness of Human Rights Treaties, 1981 to 2007.” American Journal of Sociology 117(4): 1131–1171.

Cole, Wade M. 2011. “Individuals v. States: The Correlates of Human Rights Committee Rulings, 1979–2007.” Social Science Research 40(3): 985–1000.

Cole, Wade M. 2011. “Minority Politics and Group-Differentiated Curricula at Minority-Serving Colleges and Universities.” Review of Higher Education 34(3): 381–422.

Cole, Wade M. 2006. “Accrediting Culture: An Analysis of Tribal and Black College Curricula.” Sociology of Education 79(4): 355–388.

Cole, Wade M. 2006. “When All Else Fails: International Adjudication of Human Rights Abuse Claims, 1976–1999.” Social Forces 84(4): 1909–1935.

Cole, Wade M. 2005. “Sovereignty Relinquished? Explaining Commitment to the International Human Rights Covenants, 1966–1999.” American Sociological Review 70(3): 472–495.