Jean Bethke Elshtain
Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics in the Divinity School; also in the Department of Political Science and the Committee on International Relations
Ph.D. (Brandeis University)
Regularly named as one of America's foremost public intellectuals, Jean Bethke Elshtain is the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics, Divinity School, The University of Chicago, with appointments in Political Science and the Committee on International Relations.
Jean Elshtain's books include Public Man, Private Woman: Women in Social and Political Thought; Meditations on Modern Political Thought; Women and War; Democracy on Trial (a New York Times' notable book for 1995); Real Politics: At the Center of Everyday Life; Augustine and the Limits of Politics; Who are We? Critical Reflections, Hopeful Possibilities (recipient of the Theologos Award for Best Academic Book 2000 by the Association of Theological Booksellers); Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy (honored by the Society of Midland Authors in 2002); Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World (named one of the best nonfiction books of 2003 by Publishers Weekly); and Sovereignty: God, State, and Self (her Gifford Lectures, published 2008).
In addition, Professor Elshtain has edited numerous books. She writes frequently for journals of civic opinion and lectures widely in the United States and abroad on themes of democracy, ethical dilemmas, religion and politics, and international relations. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow; a Fellow at the Bellagio Center of the Rockefeller Foundation; holder of the Maguire Chair in Ethics at the Library of Congress; and a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, where she also served on the Board of Trustees. In 2012 she will serve as the Kluge Chair in Modern Culture at the Library of Congress.
She has been a Phi Beta Kappa Lecture. In 2002 she received the Goodnow Award, the highest award bestowed by the American Political Science Association for distinguished service to the profession. She is a member of the Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Scholars Council of the Library of Congress, and the Board of the National Endowment for Democracy. In 2008 she was appointed to the President's Council on Bioethics. In 2006, she delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh, joining such previous Gifford Lecturers as William James, Hannah Arendt, Karl Barth and Reinhold Niebuhr. In 2011 she was honored with the Democracy Service Award, previously given to the Dalai Lama, Lech Walesa, and Vaclav Havel, among others.
Professor Elshtain's recent graduate-level courses at the University of Chicago include:
- Politics, Ethics, and Terror
- Political Realism
- Just War and Politics
- War and Human Identity
- Augustine's The City of God
- History of Social and Political Ethics
Full Biographical Sketch
Jean Bethke Elshtain, a political philosopher whose task has been to show the connections between our political and our ethical convictions, is the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at The University of Chicago.
Professor Elshtain was born in the irrigated farm country of northern Colorado and grew up in the small village of Timnath, Colorado (population 185). She attended public schools in Colorado. A graduate of Colorado State University (A.B., 1963), Professor Elshtain went on to earn a Master's degree in history as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow before turning to the study of politics. She received her Ph.D. from Brandeis University in Politics in 1973. She joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts/Amherst where she taught from 1973 to 1988. She joined the faculty of Vanderbilt University in 1988 as the first woman to hold an endowed professorship in the history of that institution. She was appointed to her current position at the University of Chicago in 1995. She has been a visiting professor at Oberlin College, Yale University, Harvard University, and held the Leavey Chair in the Foundations of American Freedom, Georgetown University. She is the recipient of nine honorary degrees. Professor Elshtain was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1996.
Her books include* :
1. Sovereignty: God, State, and Self. The Gifford Lectures (2008).
2. Just War against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World (2003) Named "One of the Best Non-fiction Books of 2003" by Publishers Weekly.
3. Co-author, with Aziza al-Hibri and Charles Haynes, Religion in American Public Life: Living With Our Deepest Differences. Introduction by Martin E. Marty. (W.W. Norton, 2001).
4. Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy (Basic Books, 2002). Runner-up, "Best Biography of the Year," the Society of Midland Authors.
5. Editor, The Jane Addams Reader (Basic Books, 2002).
6. Who Are We? Critical Reflections and Hopeful Possibilities. Politics and Ethical Discourse. Named "Best Book of 2000" by the American Society of Theological Booksellers. Also runner-up for "Best Book of the Year," by the Society of Midland Authors.
7. New Wine in Old Bottles: International Politics and Ethical Discourse. The 1996 Hesburgh Lectures (University of Notre Dame Press, 1998).
8. Real Politics: Political Theory and Everyday Life (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997).
9. Co-editor, Promises to Keep: Decline and Renewal of Marriage in America (Rowman and Littlefield, 1996)
10. Augustine and the Limits of Politics (University of Notre Dame Press, 1996). Named "One of the Top Five Religion Books of 1996" by The Christian Century.
11. Democracy on Trial (Basic Books, 1995). Named a New York Times notable book.
12. Co-editor, Politics and the Human Body: Assault on Dignity (Vanderbilt University Press, 1995).
13. Co-author, with Michael Walzer, George Weigel, Stanley Hauerwas, and Sari Nusseibeh, But Was It Just? Reflections on the Morality of the Persian Gulf War (Doubleday, 1992).
14. Editor, Just War Theory (Basil Blackwell, 1990).
15. Power Trips and Other Journeys (University of Wisconsin Press, 1990).
16. Co-editor, Rebuilding the Nest: A New Commitment to the American Family (Family Services Publication, Milwaukee, 1990).
17. Co-editor, Women, Militarism, and War (Roman and Allenheld, 1990).
18. Women and War (Basic Books, 1987; Italian translation published by Il Mulino, Bologna, 1991; Japanese translation published by Hosei University Press, 1994; second paperback edition with new Epilogue, University of Chicago Press, 1995)
19. Meditations on Modern Political Thought (Praeger, 1986; reissued by Penn State Press, 1992).
20. Editor, The Family in Political Thought (University of Massachusetts Press, 1982).
21. Public Man, Private Woman: Women in Social and Political Thought (Princeton University Press, 1981; second edition, 1992). Selected by Choice as one of the top academic books of 1981-82.
Jean Bethke Elshtain is also the author of more than six hundred essays in scholarly journals and journals of civic opinion. She is a contributing editor for The New Republic. Of her several hundred guest lectures and universities in the United States and abroad, over four dozen have been endowed lectureships.
Professor Elshtain has been a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; a Scholar in Residence, Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Conference and Study Center, Como, Italy; and a Guggenheim Fellow (1991-92). She is the recipient of the Ellen Gregg Ingalls Award for excellence in classroom teaching—the highest award for undergraduate teaching at Vanderbilt University. She has served on the Board of Trustees at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton; the National Humanities Center; the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke; and the National Endowment for Democracy. In 2003-2004, she held the Maguire Chair in American History and Ethics at the Library of Congress. In 2006, she was appointed to the Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and also delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh, joining such previous Gifford Lecturers as William James, Hannah Arendt, Karl Barth, and Reinhold Niebuhr. She is a founding member of the Scholars Council of the Library of Congress.
Professor Elshtain has served as co-chair of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life; Chair of the Council on Families in America; Chaired the Council on Civil Society; and as a member of the National Commission for Civic Renewal and the Penn Commission on American Culture and Society (1996-1999). She was a Phi Beta Kappa Scholar for 1997-1998. She served as vice-president of the American Political Science Association for the 1998-99 academic year.
In recognition of Professor Elshtain's body of work, she is being honored by a series of four conferences during 2010-2013 at the University of Chicago Divinity School, under the general title, "Jean Bethke Elshtain: The Engaged Mind," funded by a grant from the McDonald Agape Foundation. Each conference will focus on a set of themes that characterized her work during different periods in her career, and feature senior scholars and public intellectuals bringing their own expertise to bear on the conference topic.
Jean Bethke Elshtain is married and the mother of four children: Sheri, Heidi, Jenny, and Eric; and also the grandmother of four: JoAnn Paulette Welch, Christopher Matthew Welch, Robert Paul Bethke, and Christiane Lind Elshtain.
Professor Jean Bethke Elshtain
Laura Spelman Rockefeller of Social and Political Ethics
University of Chicago Divinity School
1025 E. 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
tel (773) 702-7252
fax (773) 702-6048
Information for those booking an appearance by Jean Bethke Elshtain
(1) Please note that Jean Bethke Elshtain is a person with post-polio. This means that she must be met at the gate at the airport; someone must assist her with luggage; she must be driven from place to place, including going from one building to another on a university campus if a walk of more than a half block is involved; and she must be helped upon her return to the airport. Professor Elshtain is ambulatory, please be assured, and she finds these requirements as much of a nuisance as anyone. But she has been assured by her physician that it is vital to her continuing mobility that she minimize the physical exertion involved in walking, especially in hauling the heavy bags she tends to overload with books, although she is trying to do better in that regard.
(2) Please be advised that Professor Elshtain cannot struggle upstairs with luggage. She must, therefore, be on a ground floor, if accommodations are in a home or inn with no elevator. If she is in a standard hotel with an elevator, a request must be made for a room as close to an elevator as possible in order that she can minimize the exertion involved in getting to and from the room with luggage. These considerations are on orders from her physician to reduce physical demands on her left leg given "post-polio syndrome."
(3) Given the concern expressed by her family, she no longer books flights on "puddle jumper" aircraft. This means she must be met at the nearest airport with regular jet service. As well, she reserves the option of canceling a flight at the last minute if weather conditions seem hazardous. She has done this only one time in ten years, so the possibility is remote.