About Scott Stapleton

Scott M. Stapleton, a student of anthropology who graduated from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in 2005. Scott was a student of extraordinary talent who impressed his professors with his intellectual curiosity and love of learning.

During a semester of study abroad in France he developed an interest in the extreme sport-Le Parkour-being performed by Parisian teenagers in the resonant public spaces linked to national symbols and high culture. Intrigued that the sport seemed to be dominated by second-generation youth, Scott developed an original senior honors thesis based on this sport and the youth culture associated with it. The finished work won the coveted Jesse A. Mann medal in the Culture and Politics program in 2005.

Scott took time after graduation to work abroad before his admission to a PhD program in anthropology at the London School of Economics. He was tragically killed in a traffic accident weeks before he was to begin graduate work. Professor Susan Terrio, his mentor, condensed the thesis into an article that was published in 2010 in the respected journal, International Migration. The publication of this article ensures that Scott’s unique contribution to the anthropology of sports and youth expression will be part of a scholarly archive available for generations to come.

We are very grateful to his family for their generous gift to the Department of Anthropology and for their support of the discipline he loved. All of those who knew Scott as professors, friends, and classmates deeply mourn the loss of a brilliant, passionate and compassionate young man.


When we lost Scott , we began noticing little things — little signs from the universe — that felt directly connected to him. Perhaps that’s a natural phenomenon for families who’ve lost a child, but for us, who had always seen our son as destined to have a lasting impact on the world, these signs have offered a chance to connect with him and maybe even make sense of a life that was too short. For as much as Scott was an innately curious, kind, intelligent soul — and Pam and I loved watching and guiding him as he grew from a child to an adult — he was irrevocably shaped by institutions and the world around him.

It was as a freshman at Georgetown in September of 2001 that he first saw the urgent need to engage himself positively in a troubled world and it was here that he set a course to become a world citizen. In those 4 wonderful years he made friends for life, was intellectually inspired by professors, seminars, concepts…and was challenged and stretched in new ways. Here he found the unique tools and connections to take on giant challenges. In those chaotic times Georgetown’s Anthropology and Language Departments had a huge impact on his life and represent for us a lasting symbol of Scott and his passion.

After graduation in 2005, armed with a degree in Culture and Politics from the Foreign Service School he was inspired to work for an IT company in Bangalore, India where he lived the complexities and challenges of those participating in the truly global economy. Over the next three years he began to see ways to turn his firsthand experience in global migration into a lifetime of positive works through a graduate program in anthropology at the London School of Economics. Sadly, he was taken from us before he could begin that chapter.

We take comfort that we can nurture in some small way intellectual curiosity and rigor as well as citizenship in our greater world. These provide the most powerful and lasting signs for us of our Scott.

-Pam and Frank Stapleton