Eric Silver

Eric Silver
Professor of Sociology and Criminology

Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D. Sociology, State University of New York at Albany, 1999

Professional Bio


I teach an award-winning course called Knowing Right from Wrong. The course enrolls 700+ students each semester. It promotes ethical development and critical thinking using morally challenging topics. Students are encouraged to share their ideas honestly, respectfully, and courageously, and to keep an open mind as their classmates share theirs. Teaching this course is one of the great joys of my professional life.


My research focuses on morality, public opinion, racial attitudes, crime, social control, criminal justice, stigmatization, and patriotism. My past research focused on the relationship between mental disorder and violence, communities and crime, and violence risk assessment. I’ve authored over 60 peer-reviewed articles in high-quality outlets and have received awards for my research.

I have a new book out with colleagues John Iceland and Ilana Redstone called Why We Disagree about Inequality: Social Justice v. Social Order. In it we show how two clashing worldviews – one emphasizing Social Justice and another Social Order – are preventing Americans from solving their most pressing social problems.


  • 2023 Open Inquiry Teaching Award, Heterodox Academy (HxA): “For the educator who has most effectively integrated open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, or constructive disagreement into the classroom or curriculum.”
  • 2013 Malvin E. and Lea P. Bank Outstanding Teaching Award, College of the Liberal Arts, Penn State University.
  • 2005 Outstanding Tenure Line Teaching Award, College of the Liberal Arts, Penn State University.
  • 2002 American Society of Criminology Ruth Shonle Cavan Award for outstanding early career contributions to the discipline of criminology.
  • 2002 Saleem Shah award for early career excellence, sponsored by the American Psychology-Law Society (Division 41 of the American Psychological Association) and the American Society of Forensic Psychology.
  • 2002 American Psychiatric Association Manfred Guttmacher Award for the Oxford University Press book, Rethinking Risk Assessment: The MacArthur Study of Mental Disorder and Violence (Monahan, Steadman, Silver et al., 2001).



  • Founding Co-Chair, Heterodox Academy at Penn State (2023-present)
  • Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, College of the Liberal Arts (2013-2017)
  • Associate Department Head (2009-2013)
  • Director of Graduate Studies (2003-2009)

Research Interests by Concentration


morality and rule breaking behavior, the relationship between mental disorder and violence/victimization, deviance
Eric Silver
(814) 865-8714
902 Oswald Tower University Park, PA 16802
Mailroom: 203 Oswald Tower