Wells College Hosts Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar

October 19, 2011
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Wells College is proud to welcome cultural anthropologist Dr. Richard A. Shweder as the 2011 Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar. Dr. Shweder will be at the College October 26–28 to meet with students and faculty members, join classroom discussions and give a lecture for the community. The lecture, titled “Robust Cultural Pluralism in the New World Order: Three Prophecies” will take place at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 27 in the Hostetter Lecture Hall of Stratton Hall. 

Dr. Richard Shweder is the William Claude Reavis Distinguished Service Professor of Human Development at the University of Chicago. Dr. Shweder has spent more than 40 years in cultural psychology, studying areas such as moral reasoning, emotional functioning, gender roles and explanations of illness. His extensive work related to cultural relations includes the popular texts Thinking Through Cultures: Expeditions in Cultural Psychology and Why Do Men Barbecue? Recipes for Cultural Psychology (both published by Harvard University Press). He has edited or co-edited many books in the areas of cultural psychology, psychological anthropology and comparative human development, including Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self and EmotionWelcome to Middle Age! (And Other Cultural Fictions); and Cultural Psychology: Essays on Comparative Human Development. He is the editor-in-chief of the reference work on child and adolescent development titled The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion.

Dr. Shweder’s recent research examines the conflicts that arise when differing practices and beliefs meet in multicultural Western liberal democracies. He compares issues arising from people’s migration from Africa, Asia and Latin America to countries in the “North,” bringing culturally endorsed practices such as arranged marriage, animal sacrifice and ideas about parental authority that mainstream populations in the United States or Western Europe sometimes find disturbing. He has co-edited two books on the topic titled Engaging Cultural Differences: The Multicultural Challenge in Liberal Democracies and Just Schools: Pursuing Equality in Societies of Difference (Russell Sage Foundation Press) and is currently writing a book titled Customs Control: The Moral Challenge in Cultural Migration.

During the 2008-2009 academic year, Dr. Shweder was a Member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. He is currently a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has held a number of other prestigious professional roles, such as visiting scholar at the Stanford University Hoover Institution, Carnegie Scholar, fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Palo Alto and fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (The Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin). He is the recipient of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Socio-Psychological Prize, and he has served as President of the Society for Psychological Anthropology.

In 1972, Dr. Shweder earned a Ph.D. degree in social anthropology from Harvard University, following that with a year of teaching at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Since then, he has taught at the University of Chicago in the departments of comparative human development and psychology. He has conducted significant fieldwork examining life in the Hindu temple town of Bhubaneswar on the east coast of India.

Dr. Shweder’s visit to Wells College is part of the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program. Each year, the program makes available 12 or more distinguished scholars who visit colleges and universities with chapters of Phi Beta Kappa. They spend two days on each campus, meeting informally with students and faculty members, taking part in classroom discussions, and giving a public lecture open to the entire academic community. Now entering its 56th year, the Visiting Scholar Program has sent 586 scholars on more than 4,800 two-day visits. Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest academic honor society, with chapters at 280 colleges and universities and over 600,000 members. The Wells College chapter was formed in 1932.


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