Home» News» News» Global»

[Beijing Forum 2011] Renowned sociologist confirms presence

OCT . 20 2011

Peking University, Oct.19, 2011: The Professor Emeritus from the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley), Robert Nelly Bellah, is invited to deliver a keynote speech at the eighth annual meeting of the Beijing Forum, which will be held in Beijing during November 4 and 6, 2011.



Prof. Robert N. Bellah


As a famous contemporary American sociologist and one of the leading scholars of contemporary American religion, Professor Robert N. Bellah received US National Humanities Medal in 2000.


Based on the Protestant and Catholic theological background, the Elliott Professor of Sociology Emeritus always puts religions into contemporary social context. His new theory of religion evolution, as well as another called "Civil Religion in America", has become a clout in the circle of religious sociology.


Professor Bellah and his research team have been focusing on the diagnosis of American social and ethical crisis for almost two decades. They prescribed American local religion and civic tradition to overcome that crisis, which attracted extensive social attention and provoked continuously heated debate.


During the meeting of the Beijing Forum, Professor Bellah will hold the "Dialogue between Axial Civilizations" together with Harvard University Professor Tu Weiming, president of Peking University (PKU)’s Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies. “Dialogue", as the Forum recommended, is a way of communication between the western and eastern cultures. It is also one of the most important organizational forms that can manifest the academic role of the forum - an exchange platform for different civilizations and cultures.


Ever since the foundation of the Forum, a number of prime academic dialogues have been held, with a long list of prestigious scholars enrolled - W.H. Tim (professor from the University of Turin and member of the European Parliament), Seyyed Hossein Nasr professor from the University of Washington, and a world-renowned Islamic philosopher), Grand Mufti (Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina), Jürgen Moltmann (Professor Emeritus of the University of Tuebingen, a world-famous philosopher of religion), etc.


Background Info:


Professor Bellah graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College with a B.A. in social anthropology in 1950. His undergraduate honors thesis on Apache Kinship Systems won the Phi Beta Kappa Prize and was published by the Harvard University Press. In 1955, he received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in Sociology and Far Eastern Languages in 1957. After two years of postdoctoral work in Islamic Studies at McGill University in Montreal, he began teaching at Harvard in 1957 and left 10 years later as Professor of Sociology to move to the University of California, Berkeley. From 1967 to 1997, he served as Ford Professor of Sociology.


Among Professor Bellah's great works, the most influential are Religious Evolution (1964) and Civil Religion in America (1967). Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (published by the University of California Press, 1985) also raised continuing concerns.


In September of 2011 the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press published Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age, the result of Bellah’s lifetime interest in the evolution of religion and thirteen years of work on this volume.


On December 20, 2000, Professor Bellah received the United States National Humanities Medal.  The citation, which President Clinton signed, reads:


The President of the United States of America awards this National Humanities Medal to Robert N. Bellah for his efforts to illuminate the importance of community in American society. A distinguished sociologist and educator, he has raised our awareness of the values that are at the core of our democratic institutions and of the dangers of individualism unchecked by social responsibility.

Written by: Jiang Zhaohui
Edited by: Arthars
PKU News (Chinese)