David Allen (1983)


Dr. David Allen had several careers, all of which were motivated by his politics and passion. At age 16, David Allen became an activist after the assassinations of MLK and Robert Kennedy. He actively opposed the war in Vietnam and was sympathetic to the Black Power movement. Dr. Allen got his Bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1974 and his Master’s degree in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1986. He got his PhD in 1995 from the University of California at Berkeley, writing his dissertation on a topic he loved: the New Left.

Dr. Allen began his academic career as an adjunct instructor of sociology at the University of California at Santa Cruz and then the University of California at Berkeley. He then became an assistant professor of sociology at Phillips University and an assistant professor of sociology at Georgia Southern University in 1998. After that, he took several visiting assistant professor positions at Drexel and Montgomery County Community College. He joined the faculty at Temple first as a visiting assistant professor of sociology in August 2004 and later became an assistant and then associate professor of teaching instruction. 

Dr. Allen’s intellectual interests concerned the turbulent politics and organizing of the sixties and the aftermath of the movements of that decade.  Some of his recent talks have had provocative titles such as “McLuhan as prophet of the sixties, 68ers as harbingers of the Global Village,” “May ’68: The student revolt that changed the history of revolution,” and “Conflating the cultural and political in social movement theory today.” He has published on philosophy and politics in the classroom and on the disappearance of childhood, and has presented a creative multi-media work called “Imagination is seeking power” at the Fourth International Social Theory Consortium. He was working on a manuscript asking the question: “Is it possible to reinvent Communism in the 21st Century and if so in what forms?”  and had intended to use his upcoming sabbatical to finish the work.

Dr. Allen will be remembered by his colleagues at Temple and the many students who loved his classes. Dr. Allen taught such diverse courses as Development of Sociological Thought, American Ethnicity and Comparative Societal Development, Honors Introduction to Sociology, Social Inequality, Social Movements and Social Change, Race and Ethnicity, Ethnicity and Immigration in America, and The History of Race in America. He was a valuable department citizen, teaching the courses that needed to be taught without hesitation.  He was an active participant in meetings and sought to make the department a better and more intellectually stimulating place. When he regularly brought in outside speakers to talk about Berkeley in the 1960s, students were completely engrossed and full of questions. 

His colleagues describe him as a “sensitive, kind humanitarian,” “generous, kind, warm, interested in and knowledgeable about many subjects and devoted to his family,” “a good soul,” “ a vibrant thinker,” “a wonderful and dedicated teacher and a good department citizen,” and  will remember his “amazing wit and his deep, deep love for deep, deep thinkers.” Many of his students were genuinely devoted to him and had the following to say about him and his classes: “He was open to all viewpoints and even encouraged people to speak up with what they were thinking;” “Very genuinely kind and caring. Cares a lot about the topics discussed in class. He is very open and personable. The class feels like a book club almost- somewhere where we are all able and willing to speak and take in information;” “He is very enthusiastic and passionate about the material, which makes it easier to feel the same way;” “He was open with his students about a range of different topics. We learned from him and he also learned from us;” and, simply, “He is an amazing professor.” I think that sums up how many of us feel about David Allen: We learned from him, and he was indeed amazing.

Dissertation Title
The Second Failed Experiment: The American New Left from Third Camp to Maoism