About Robert W. Fuller

Robert W. Fuller, former president of Oberlin College, is an internationally recognized authority on the subject of rankism and dignity. His books and ideas have been widely covered in the media, including The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, National Public Radio, C-SPAN, The Boston Globe, the BBC and Voice of America. Fuller has also given more than 300 talks at a variety of organizations, from Princeton University to Microsoft to Kaiser Hospital. Fuller is the author of Somebodies & Nobodiesa book that identified the malady of rankism and All Rise, which describes a dignitarian society committed to overcoming it and along with Pamela A. Gerloff is the co-author of the new book Dignity for All: How to Create a World without Rankism. His most recent books are Religion and Science: A Beautiful Friendship? and The Rowan Tree: A Novel. Contact Robert Fuller at Dignity4All (AT) breakingranks (DOT) net.

Ending Academic Apartheid: Equity and Dignity for Adjunct Professors

University of Leeds 350

Robert Fuller: No one takes exception to cost-cutting, but forcing one group to subsidize another that’s doing comparable work, while maintaining working conditions that signal second-class status, is what the world now rejects as Apartheid.

Am I a Home for Identities?

divided-self-short

Robert Fuller: We know that our current persona will eventually give way to another. In contrast, the self ages little, perhaps because it partakes of the detached agelessness of the witness.

Who Am I?

baby mirror

Robert Fuller: A better understanding of selfhood holds the promise of resolving perennial quarrels and putting us all on the same side as we face the challenges in a global future, not least of which will be coming to terms with machines who rival or surpass human intelligence.

Rankism vs. the Golden Rule

SYMMETRY

Robert Fuller: What is Rankism? It is a collective name for the various ways power can be abused. Whereas rank is meant to serve, rankism is a self-serving perversion of service. There are many varieties of rankism — sexism, racism, and ableism are a few.

Something America and China Could Do Together

chinese dragon

Robert Fuller: At the moment, the greatest threats to China and America come not from each other, but from flaws in their own systems of governance. Chinese and Americans alike are burdened by political systems that are not keeping pace with the times.

The Source of Indignity

left out

Robert Fuller: The twentieth century witnessed the successful application of the strategies and tactics of identity politics. Those same organizational techniques, applied to overcoming rankism, can render it as insupportable as the isms that identity politics has now put on the defensive.

Peace Dividend: A Model of Morality

bullying

Robert Fuller: That we’ve found ways to curb the indignities suffered by minorities, women, gays, the elderly, and people with disabilities suggests that making dignity the norm universally may not be out of reach.

Season of Hope: A New Deal for Religion and Science

zen

Robert Fuller: Those who argue that religion should be counted out are overlooking the role that religious leaders played in overcoming segregation in America, repealing apartheid in South Africa, and ending the communist dictatorship in Poland and Central Europe.

The Evolution of Moral Models

dinosaur

Robert Fuller: A society that rejects the theory of natural selection, Newton’s laws, or the standard model of elementary particle physics because they make no claim to being absolute truths, shoots itself in the foot.

A Foundation for a Beautiful Friendship

reincarnation

Robert Fuller: The allure of mystery points directly to the nature of reality as open and infinite. It offers a foretaste of our real power within that reality as its discoverer and knower.

Is Anyone Enlightened?

sadhu holy man

Robert Fuller: Getting a close look at several individuals who were advertised as enlightened led me to conclude that there’s a lot of hype and hypocrisy in the business. A good many of them, not unlike a fair number of academics I’d known, seemed to me to be in it primarily for the lifestyle.

Eureka, Epiphany, and Enlightenment

enlightedned leap

Robert Fuller: When it comes to the discovery process, the differences between the eurekas of science and the revelations of religion are superficial.

To Use Beliefs or Be Used by Them: THAT Is the Question

bill buckner

Robert Fuller: As we come to see ourselves as separate from, and senior to, our beliefs, we realize that we’ll survive a change in them. They’re our servants, not our master.

Beyond Fundamentalism and Relativism

elmert gantry

Robert Fuller: Fundamentalism of the imperious sort comes in a variety of disguises: moral righteousness, technological arrogance, intellectual condescension, and artistic snobbery, to name a few.

Some Big, Civilization-Shaping Ideas from Religion

dove of peace

Robert Fuller: Religious ideals, decoupled from political pressure, have seldom been enough to prevent predation or to arrest the cycles of vengeance that tend to ensue.

Why One God Is Better Than Ten

michaelangelo creation

Robert Fuller: An omniscient, unique god, worthy of the name, would insist that the truth is singular, and that it’s His truth. In consequence, there cannot be two distinct, true, but contradictory bodies of knowledge.

Keeping Your Balance When There’s No Place to Stand

galileo

Robert Fuller: I realized that, as in science, political, moral, or personal convictions could be questioned and might need amending or qualifying in certain circumstances.

What Science Does: Model Building

model building

Robert Fuller: No species other than ours holds the fate of the Earth in its hands. The question, then, is what is it about humans that has brought us such power?

Whatever Happened to “Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men”?

boy praying

Robert Fuller: It seems to me then that religion’s most serious shortcoming was not that it harbored “deniers” of well-established science models, but that it had not found a way to realize its own aspirational goals.

Rankism: The Poison That Destroys Relationships

ashamed girl

Robert Fuller: People are no longer willing to be treated like nobodies; they’re demanding to be treated like somebodies. Once people stand up for their dignity, it’s not long before they’re marching for justice.

Reason to Hope: A New Deal for Science and Religion

woman dna

Robert Fuller: Many of the voices now being raised against religion are over-confident and patronizing, rather like those of trial-lawyers who feel the jury is in their pocket.

The Dignity Movement Finds Its Feet

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Robert Fuller: A new dream is taking hold: people are sensing the possibility of building societies in which dignity is universal and secure.

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Transforming the One-Size-Fits-All Workhouse Into a Custom-Fit Workplace

Assembly Line

Robert Fuller: The ill-effects of rigid work schedules, inequitable pay, and other demeaning practices are now the subject of a growing body of research documenting the damage done not only to individual employees but to the companies for which they work.

Eight Ways You Can Stop Rankism

waitress

Robert Fuller: If you’re patronizing a store or restaurant, avoid the mistake of thinking that because “the customer is king” you can be a tyrant. The majority of servers and clerks are doing their jobs as best they can, often under trying conditions and a great deal of pressure.

Blueprint for a Majority Third Party

Broken Government

Robert Fuller: Given the dysfunctional state of American politics, the need for a path that Right and Left can travel together is urgent. If conservatives and liberals cannot subordinate their partisan agendas to the common good, world leadership will pass to nations that do manage to transcend this obsolete ideological dichotomy.

What Is Rankism and Why Do We “Do” It?

Cleaning Lady

Robert Fuller: you conclude that rankism is human nature — that we’re like the apes, and they do it, so we have no choice — and dismiss the possibility of overcoming it, consider this list of specific kinds of “put downs” that, not long ago, were deemed cool, but have become a sure way to embarrass yourself.

Too Much Inequality Harms Society

Depression

Robert Fuller: Within American society, it’s not the absolute income levels of states that determines their social well being, but rather the level of income disparity, as is the case with nations. Economic inequality and social dysfunction go hand in hand.

Obama’s Nobel Honors His Dignitarian Politics

Dr. Nobel captured in Barack Obama style poster

Obama got the prize not for doing, but for being. Not for making peace, but for exemplifying something new on the world stage — the politics of dignity.

­How Nobodies Can Be Somebodies: FAQs for the Dignity Movement against Rankism

Dominance

When discrimination and injustice are race-based, we call it racism; when they’re gender-based, we call it sexism. By analogy, rank-based abuse and exploitation are rankism. We won’t be able to confront rankism until we overcome our fear of seeming uppity by using the word in public.

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