Hahn, Harlan 1939–2008

views updated

Hahn, Harlan 1939–2008

(Harlan Dean Hahn)


See index for CA sketch: Born June 9, 1939, in Osage, IA; died of a heart attack, April 23, 2008, in Santa Monica, CA. Political scientist, activist for the disabled, educator, and author. Hahn taught at the University of Michigan and the University of California at Riverside for several years before he found a permanent home in the political science department at the University of Southern California, where he taught from 1972 until 1998. It was not his academic career that inspired his lifelong goal, however; it merely provided the venue and the fuel for his pursuit. Hahn had survived polio as a child in the 1940s and spent his life confined to a wheelchair. His primary objective as an adult was to improve the quality of life for disabled people everywhere, but especially in his own workplace. Hahn had supported the U.S. Rehabilitation Act in 1973, the year after he joined the University of Southern California, but twenty-five years later the campus remained a veritable obstacle course that not only inconvenienced him needlessly, but also interfered with his academic commitments. He sued the university in 1992 and eventually won a far-reaching settlement, not for personal damages, but to improve what used to be called "handicap access" campus-wide, with annual budget provisions for continued improvement. Hahn was not only a political scientist, but also earned degrees in rehabilitation counseling and public health. He held a joint appointment at the university as a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the Keck School of Medicine. His early writings focused on political science and government, but gradually, as he came to classify disability issues more as civil rights than charitable entitlements, his writings came to reflect his expanded scope. Hahn wrote or edited several books, including Urban-Rural Conflict: The Politics of Change (1971), American Government: Minority Rights versus Majority Rule (1976), The Issue of Equality: European Perceptions of Employment for Disabled Persons (1984), Disabled Persons and Earthquake Hazards (1988), and Urban America and Its Police: From the Postcolonial Era through the Turbulent 1960s (2003).



Los Angeles Times, May 10, 2008, p. B8.

About this article

Hahn, Harlan 1939–2008

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article