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Robert W. Fuller

Robert W. Fuller named the problem of rankism in Somebodies and Nobodies and described how societies can promote universal dignity in All Rise. With Pamela A. Gerloff he co-wrote Dignity for All - a handbook for the Dignity Movement. His most recent books are Religion and Science: A Beautiful Friendship?, Genomes, Menomes, Wenomes: Neuroscience and Human Dignity, and The Rowan Tree: A Novel.



About Robert Fuller

About Robert Fuller

Robert FullerRobert W. Fuller, Ph.D., former president of Oberlin College, is an internationally recognized authority on rankism and dignity. His books and ideas have been widely covered in the media, including The New York Times, The Oprah Magazine Magazine, National Public Radio, C-SPAN, The Boston Globe, the BBC and Voice of America. Fuller has also given hundreds of talks at a variety of organizations, from Yale University to Microsoft to Kaiser Hospital.


Back Story:
After earning his Ph.D. in physics at Princeton University in 1961, Robert Fuller taught at Columbia University and co-authored the book Mathematics of Classical and Quantum Physics. The mounting social unrest of the 1960s drew his attention to educational reform, and in 1970 he was appointed president of his alma mater Oberlin College at the age of 33.

In 1970 Fuller traveled to India (where he served as a consultant to Indira Gandhi) and, on a return visit the following year, witnessed firsthand the famine resulting from the war of succession of Bangladesh from Pakistan. With the election of Jimmy Carter, Fuller began a campaign to persuade the new president to lead the nations of the world, once and for all, to end hunger. His meeting with Carter in the Oval Office in June 1977 led to the establishment of the Presidential Commission on World Hunger.

During the 1980s, Fuller traveled frequently to the USSR, working as a citizen-scientist to improve the Cold War relationship. This work helped lead to the creation of the non-profit global corporation Internews, which promotes democracy via free and independent media, and for many years Fuller served as its chairman.

With the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR, Robert Fuller looked back reflectively on his career and understood that he had been at different junctures in his life, a somebody and a nobody. His periodic sojourns in “Nobodyland” led him to identify and investigate rankism – defined as abuse of the power inherent in rank – and ultimately to write Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank (New Society Publishers, 2003). In 2006 he published a sequel that focuses on building a dignitarian society titled All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity (Berrett-Koehler). With co-author Pamela Gerloff, Robert Fuller has also published Dignity for All: How to Create a World Without Rankism (Berrett-Koehler, 2008). His most recent books are Religion and Science: A Beautiful Friendship? and The Rowan Tree: A Novel. Fuller’s books have been translated and published in India, China, Korea, and Bangladesh. In addition to his many speaking engagements in the United States and Canada, Fuller has served as a Visiting Professor at the Indian Institute of Science (Center for Contemporary Studies) in Bangalore, India.