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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Religion and American Public Life: The Calling of a Public Intellectual

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

william galston

William A. Galston holds the Ezra K. Zilkha Chair in the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program, where he serves as a senior fellow. He is a political theorist who both studies and participates in American politics and domestic policy. His expertise includes American political thought, institutions and processes; contemporary political and social philosophy; history of political thought; and U.S. domestic policy. Galston was Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy during the first Clinton Administration and Executive Director of the National Commission on Civic Renewal, which was chaired by Sam Nunn and William Bennett. His books include Public Matters: Essays on Politics, Policy and Religion (2005), The Practice of Liberal Pluralism (2004) and Liberal Pluralism: The Implications of Value Pluralism for Political Theory and Practice (2002). A winner of the American Political Science Association’s Hubert H. Humphrey Award, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. Galston holds a Ph.D. and a M.A. from the University of Chicago and a B.A. from Cornell University.

howard gardner

Howard Gardner is the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. A recipient of the MacArthur Prize Fellowship, the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education, the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences and the Brock International Prize in Education, he is a leading thinker of education and human development. He has received honorary degrees from thirty colleges and universities. He has studied and written extensively about intelligence, creativity, leadership and professional ethics, and is senior director of Project Zero and co-founder of the Good Project. For the last several years, he has worked in various capacities with Harvard undergraduates and is now undertaking a study of liberal arts and sciences in the 21st century. Gardner’s books include Good Work (2001), Changing Minds (2004), The Development and Education of the Mind (2005), Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons (2006) and Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed (2011). His latest co-authored book is The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World (2013).

susan jacoby

Susan Jacoby is an independent scholar specializing in the history of atheism, secularism and religious liberty. She is the author of eleven books, including her most recent, Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion (2016). Her other books include Never Say Die (2011), The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought (2012), The Age of American Unreason (2008), Alger Hiss and the Battle for History  (2009) and Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism (2004). Her articles have appeared frequently in the op-ed pages of The New York Times and in forums that include The American Prospect, Dissent and The Daily Beast. She has been the recipient of many grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim, Rockefeller and Ford Foundations. In 2001 she was named a fellow of the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. Jacoby is a member of the honorary boards of the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Center for Inquiry, a secular think tank. She lives in New York City.

ira katznelson

Ira Katznelson has been the Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History at Columbia University since 1994. Since 2012, he has been president of the Social Science Research Council. His book Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time (2013) has been awarded the Bancroft Prize in History, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award in Political Science and the Sidney Hillman Foundation Prize for Book Journalism. Other recent books include Liberal Beginnings with Andreas Kalyvas (2008), When Affirmative Action Was White (2006) and Desolation and Enlightenment (2003). Katznelson has served as president of the American Political Science Association, the Social Science History Association and is a research associate at Cambridge University’s Centre for History and Economics.


Randall Kennedy is the Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard Law School where he teaches courses on contracts, criminal law and the regulation of race relations. Born in Columbia, South Carolina, he attended St. Albans School, Princeton University, Oxford University and Yale Law School. He served as a law clerk for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the United States Court of Appeals and for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. He is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia and the Supreme Court of the United States. Awarded the 1998 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for Race, Crime, and the Law (1997), Kennedy writes for a wide range of scholarly and general interest publications. His most recent books are For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law (2013), The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency (2011), Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal (2008), Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption (2003) and Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word (2002). A member of the American Law Institute, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Association, Kennedy is also a Charter Trustee of Princeton University.


Sanford Levinson holds the W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair in Law and is a professor in the government department at the University of Texas at Austin Law School. This year he is a visiting professor at the Harvard Law School. He is the author of multiple books, including Constitutional Faith (1988), Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (and How We the People Can Correct It) (2006), Framed: America's 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance (2012) and An Argument Open to All: Reading the Federalist in the 21st Century (2015). He is also the editor of Torture: A Collection (2004) and the co-editor with Mark Tushnet and Mark Graber of The Oxford Handbook on the United States Constitution (2015). Levinson has also published in a wide variety of professional and popular journals and is a regular contributor to the blog Balkinization. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association in 2010 and was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001. Levinson holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University, a J.D. from Stanford University and an A.B. from Duke University. 

richard mouw

Richard J. Mouw served as president of Fuller Theological Seminary from 1993 through June 2013, and presently serves on the Fuller faculty as Professor of Faith and Public Life. Prior to joining the Fuller faculty in 1985, he taught in the philosophy department at Calvin College. Mouw has also served as a visiting professor at several institutions, including the Free University in Amsterdam. A graduate of Houghton College, Mouw studied at Western Theological Seminary and earned a master’s degree in philosophy at the University of Alberta. His Ph.D. in philosophy is from the University of Chicago. Mouw has served on many editorial boards, including currently Books and Culture. He is the author of twenty books, including The God Who Commands (1990), The Smell of Sawdust (2000), Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport (2004), Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World (1992) and most recently, Called to the Life of the Mind (2014). He has received several awards, including Princeton Theological Seminary’s 2007 Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life and the Shalom Award for Interfaith Cooperation from the American Jewish Committee. He recently served as president of the Association of Theological Schools and co-chaired for six years the official Reformed-Catholic Dialogue. 

2012.11.01 Latinos Election Panel 06 Erik Owens

Erik Owens is associate director of the Boisi Center and associate professor of the practice in theology and international studies at Boston College. For the 2015-16 academic year he is a research fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown University, where he is working on a manuscript about religion, citizenship and civic education. His research explores a variety of intersections between religion and public life, with particular attention to the challenge of fostering the common good of a religiously diverse society. His interdisciplinary scholarship bridges the fields of theological ethics, political philosophy, law, education, international studies and public policy. He is the co-editor of three books: Gambling: Mapping the American Moral Landscape (2009), Religion and the Death Penalty: A Call for Reckoning (2004) and The Sacred and the Sovereign: Religion and International Politics (2003), the last of which was called a "must read" by Foreign Affairs in 2009. At the American Academy of Religion, he serves on the committee on the Public Understanding of Religion, was recently co-chair of the Religion and Politics section, and serves on the steering committee of the "Religion and Public Schools: International Perspectives" group. He received his Ph.D. in religious ethics from the University of Chicago, an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School and a B.A. from Duke University. Before joining the Boisi Center, Owens received research fellowships from the Spencer Foundation and the University of Virginia’s Center on Religion and Democracy, taught at the University of Chicago and DePaul University, and worked for the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life as well as the City of Chicago’s Board of Ethics.

david quigley

David Quigley is provost and dean of faculties and professor of history at Boston College. He teaches a wide range of courses on the nineteenth-century United States and on political and urban history. His research has explored the history of race and democracy between the American Revolution and Reconstruction in the local political cultures of New York. He is completing a new synthetic project, Last, Best Hope: International Lives of the American Civil War (forthcoming) as well as editing A Companion to American Urban History (2012) and Busing in Boston: A Brief History with Documents (2014). His most recent books include Second Founding: New York City, Reconstruction, and the Making of American Democracy (2004) and Jim Crow New York: A Documentary Reader on Race and Citizenship, 1777-1877, co-authored with David N. Gellman (2003). Quigley received his Ph.D. from New York University in history.


Joseph F. Quinn is a professor of economics and the former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Boston College. He has done extensive research on aging issues. His work has covered the economics of aging with emphasis on the economic status of the elderly, Social Security reform, the determinants of the individual retirement decision and trends and patterns of labor force withdrawal among older Americans. Quinn’s work using the Retirement History Survey from the 1970s was summarized in Passing the Torch: The Influence of Economic Incentives on Work and Retirement (1990), co-authored by Richard Burkhauser and Daniel Myers. He is now working with the Health and Retirement Survey, analyzing the nature and timing of retirement since the 1990s. Quinn has served on numerous boards and was co-chair of the technical panel on trends and issues in retirement savings for President Clinton’s 1994-95 Advisory Council on Social Security. He received his B.A. from Amherst College and his Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

susan shell

Susan Meld Shell is a professor, and currently chair, of the department of political science at Boston College. She has been a visiting professor at Harvard University, and received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Bradley Foundation, the Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst and the Radcliffe Institute. She is also the author of Kant and the Limits of Autonomy (2009), The Embodiment of Reason: Kant on Spirit, Generation and Community (1996) and The Rights of Reason: A Study of Kant's Philosophy and Politics (1980). She is the co-editor with Robert Faulkner of America at Risk: Threats to Liberal Self-Government in an Age of Uncertainty (2009). She has also written on Rousseau, German Idealism and in selected areas of public policy. 


Alan Wolfe is the founding director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life and professor of political science at Boston College. He is the author and editor of more than twenty books, including, most recently, At Home in Exile: Why Diaspora Is Good for the Jews (2014), Political Evil: What It Is and How to Combat It (2012), The Future of Liberalism (2009), The Transformation of American Religion: How We actually Practice our Faith (2005), Moral Freedom (2003) and One Nation After All (1999). He is a frequent contributor to The New York TimesThe Washington Post and The Atlantic, and has delivered lectures across the United States and Europe. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Pennsylvania and has received honorary degrees from Loyola College in Maryland and St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.