Aaron Belkin

Aaron Belkin

Department Chair (acting)
Phone: 415-338-1641
Email: belkin@sfsu.edu
Location: HUM 468

Professor Belkin specializes in military masculinity and sexuality in the armed forces, and has published two dozen peer-reviewed journal articles. His books include "Bring Me Men: Military Masculinity and the Benign Facade of American Empire, 1899-2012" (Columbia University Press, 2012), and "Counterfactual Thought Experiments in World Politics" (Princeton University Press,1996, co-edited with Philip Tetlock).

Belkin served for 24 years as founding director of the Palm Center, which the Advocate named as one of the most effective LGBTQ rights organizations in the nation. He designed and implemented much of the public education campaign that eroded popular support for military anti-gay discrimination, and Harvard Law Professor Janet Halley said of Belkin that, "Probably no single person deserves more credit for the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’" When the military lifted its transgender ban in 2016, a senior Pentagon official said during a White House Ceremony that the Palm Center was one of the organizations most responsible for helping the Pentagon formulate inclusive policy for transgender troops. 

In 2018, Belkin founded Take Back the Court to underscore Supreme Court expansion as a necessary step for restoring American democracy. When he launched the organization, there were no members of Congress and no other organizations in the US in support of expansion. By the time he left the organization in December 2022, 60+ members of Congress and 130+ organizations were calling for court expansion, and polls indicated majority public support for the idea. As director of Take Back the Court, Belkin raised more than $4 million in grants and built an advisory board that includes W. Kamau Bell, Heather McGhee, and Laurence Tribe.

Professor Belkin has devoted considerable attention to the question of research translation, in other words how to use social science to engage with public audiences, and his research has been covered widely by the New York TimesWashington PostLos Angeles TimesNPRCNN, and national network news. His e-book summarizing lessons he learned during the campaign to repeal the military's gay ban is "How We Won: Progressive Lessons from the Repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'" (Huffington Post Media Group, 2011).

Prior to his arrival at SF State, Belkin was associate professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, associate professor of psychology at CUNY Hunter, visiting member of the political science faculty at Stanford University, MacArthur Foundation postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley, and pre-doctoral fellow at the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford. He earned his B.A. in international relations at Brown University in 1988 and his Ph.D in political science at the University of California, Berkeley in 1998.

Website: Aaron Belkin's personal website