The earliest recognized use of the term in its current meaning is found at the University of Chicago, which created The Committee on Social Thought just after WWII. The University was a center for intellectuals from its founding in the 1880's and, under Albion Small in 1893, was the earliest American university to establish a sociology department . The Committee on Social Thought was the product of President Robert M. Hutchins, Edward Shils and Leo Strauss. It focused on the relationship between Greek classics and contemporary trans-European society. A typical Committee paper would be: "Platonic Thought in Modern Romance Novels". However, the Committee has remained focused on this narrow conception long after social thought blossomed into a full-blown, independent field of study.
It has not yet possible to identify the forces acting within the academic community which resulted in the development of social thought n a dozen fields in the 1960's and 1970's, but the explosion occurred, unrecognized, nearly everywhere. The following is a limited sample of the dominant thinkers from a variety of fields.