In Memoriam: Rachel Schurman

Rachel Shurman

On Sunday, March 17, 2024, the world lost a truly exceptional woman. At the too-young age of 65, UMN Sociology Professor Rachel Schurman passed away peacefully in her home, surrounded in her last weeks by her husband Professor Michael Goldman and her children Nadia and Eli. She lived and died with exceptional grace and gratitude.

Throughout her life, Rachel pursued social change by multiple roads, often bringing her academic smarts to engage in broader politics. While in Boston she began writing for Dollars and Sense, a collectively run magazine that questioned dominant economic theories and invited people to examine economics as they saw it in their own lives. 

Rachel found a better academic home by taking a sideways step into sociology, completing a doctorate at the University of Wisconsin. She lived in Chile for a year during this time and studied the travails of firms and workers in the Chilean fishing industry under the Pinochet regime. This work evolved into a series of influential articles on the contradictions of an authoritarian government directing with a heavy hand the supposed invisible hand of the “free market” of Chile’s natural resource industries, devastating environments and marginalizing working-class and peasant communities in their path. 

Rachel’s scholarship eventually evolved across a rich spread of areas and traditions, and one constant was her fascination with how people work together, and the cultures they create – from labor to social movements, from corporate life worlds to the rising force of big tech philanthropy.

Rachel always held on to life in its broadest scope. She adored her family and extended family, and kept strong loving connections with her many friends around the world. In short, she ravenously pursued connection with humanity. With life-loving humor, curiosity and care she made vital connections wherever she went.

To so many people around the world, Rachel was a constant source of light, positive energy, honesty, and love of life. And while it seems impossible that one could have so much energy for caring and giving, Rachel was able to do so with sincerity and passion, until her final days. 

For those wishing to honor Rachel’s memory, she asked that donations be made to the Middle East Children's Alliance – Meca for Peace

Share on: