19 Nov 2021

New Faculty Profiles: Summer Jackson


HBS faculty comprises more than 300 scholars and practitioners who bring leading-edge research, extensive experience, and deep insights into the classroom, to organizations, and to managers. We asked new faculty at HBS about their background, their new roles, and their interests.

Summer Jackson, assistant professor, Organizational Behavior

What is your educational background?
I went to Stanford University, where I studied international relations and feminist studies and briefly competed as a D1 athlete in the heptathlon. Later I earned a master’s degree from the Heller School for social policy and management at Brandeis University, and joined the U.S. State Department upon graduation. After a few years working in foreign policy, I switched gears and completed my MS and PhD in economic sociology at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

What’s your area of research and what led you to it?
I focus on organizational inequality. I’ve always been interested in how social identities— such as race, class, and gender—are enacted in the workplace and other settings. My own background and lived experiences pushed me to explore these research questions more deeply while at MIT. I was born in Spain and grew up in Saudi Arabia. My father is African-American and my mother is English. I’ve always been fascinated by how we are made up of these bundles of different identities that can become more or less salient depending on the context and setting. In many ways, I’m still that multi-racial, multi-national, third-culture kid just trying to find my way in this world.

What will you be teaching here?
I will be teaching Leadership and Organizational Behavior (LEAD) in the Required Curriculum.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a professor?
I would still be at the U.S. Department of State managing elements of our country’s foreign aid programming. Public service is very important to me, and I found it rewarding to play a role in shaping how our government operates internationally, and determining how we can best use foreign aid to signal what’s important to us as Americans.

Where are you from?
This question is always difficult for kids like me who grew up internationally. I was born in Mallorca, Spain, and spent my childhood in Saudi Arabia. When I was 15, my family moved to Sedona, Arizona. It’s an incredibly beautiful place, made up of really warm and welcoming people. While Boston is now my home, I think of Sedona as where I am from.

What is something you like to do outside of your academic work?
I enjoy running, hiking, using my Peloton, and spending time in the sunshine. Prior to Boston, I’ve always lived in warm places so I try to soak up as much sun as possible during the summer months.

What’s your favorite book, movie, or piece of art?
I love the Lord of the Rings, and in general am a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien. I was president and co-founder of the Tolkien Society in high school and have read everything he’s written. Every few years, I like to re-read the Lord of the Rings and uncover new details or make new connections to his other works (like The Silmarillion).

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