Jean Bethke Elshtain

 Jean Bethke Elshtain
Address1025 East 58th Street
Swift Hall
Chicago, IL 60637

Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics, University of Chicago Divinity School

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 and holder of the Leavey Chair in the Foundations of American Freedom, Georgetown University.

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; 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; a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, where she also served on the Board of Trustees.

She has been a Phi Beta Kappa Lecturer and in 2002 she received the Goodnow Award, the highest award bestowed by the American Political Science Association for distinguished service to the profession. She has served on the Board of the National Humanities Center and currently 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.

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 or Rousseau?
History of Social and Political Ethics
Ethics and Autobiography
Freud’s Ethics
Politics, Ethics, and Embodiment
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, and Harvard 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.

Areas of Interest

Social and Political Ethics;

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