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Robert W. Fuller (*1936) earned his Ph.D. in physics at Princeton University in 1961, and taught[1] at Columbia University where he co-authored the book Mathematics of Classical and Quantum Physics. The mounting social unrest of the 1960s drew his attention to educational reform, and in 1970 he was appointed president of his alma mater Oberlin College at the age of 33, one of youngest college Presidents in US history. During his time at Oberlin, Fuller re-shaped the student body by tripling the enrollment of minorities at the college. Fuller also recruited and hired the first four African-American athletic coaches in a predominantly white American college or university, including Tommie Smith, the Gold Medalist sprinter from the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Fuller was interviewed on campus by Howard Cosell and appeared on primetime television to talk about these changes.


In 1970 Fuller was named the tenth president of Oberlin College, succeeding Robert Carr. He served four years, during a turbulent time at Oberlin and in higher education generally, until 1974. He hired Jack Scott as athletic director.

In 1971 Fuller traveled to India (as a consultant to Indira Gandhi) and there witnessed firsthand the famine resulting from the war with Pakistan over what became Bangladesh. With the election of U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Fuller began a campaign to persuade the new president to end world hunger. In 1977, Fuller co-founded The Hunger Project, along with Werner Erhard and John Denver. His June 1977 meeting with President Carter in the Oval Office helped lead to the establishment of the Presidential Commission on World Hunger. In January 1975, he co-authored A look at est in education with Zara Wallace on the topic of Erhard Seminars Training.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Fuller traveled frequently to the Soviet Union, working as a citizen-scientist to improve the Cold War relationship. This work led to the creation of the non-profit global corporation Internews, which promotes democracy via free and independent media, and for many years Fuller served as its chairman.

Fuller continued traveling the world to promote peace, stopping in Afghanistan, Somalia, Israel, Northern Ireland, Russia, and other world hot spots to meet with problem solvers and decisionmakers in order to develop solutions. Fuller and colleagues helped to found a new form of diplomacy called "citizen diplomacy", which enabled them to circumvent oft-ossified bureaucracies not flexible enough to enable positive change[citation needed]. Fuller worked with Kim Spencer and David M. Hoffman (founders of Internews), Evelyn Messinger, Alia Johnson, and John Steiner.

With the collapse of the USSR, Fuller’s work as a citizen diplomat came to a close and he began reflecting on his career and came to understand that he had, at various times, been a somebody and a nobody and the cycle was continuing. His periodic sojourns in “Nobodyland” led him to identify and investigate rankism – defined as abuse of the power inherent in rank – and ultimately to write Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank (New Society Publishers, 2003). This book inspired a group in Virginia to set up the Dignitarian Foundation. He later published a sequel that focused on building a dignitarian society titled All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity (Berrett-Koehler, 2006). In 2008, Fuller and co-author Pamela A. Gerloff released an eighty-six page "action-oriented guide" titled Dignity for All: How to Create a World Without Rankism[2]. Fuller currently maintains a blog at, and he also writes regular articles for The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and OpenLeft.

Personal life

Fuller lives in Berkeley, California with his wife. Fuller has four children - two living on the West Coast and two living on the East Coast. His daughter, Karen Fuller, works to decrease rankism in the healthcare industry. His oldest son, Ben Fuller, works for Link TV and has been involved in Dignitarian Movement since its early days. Fuller also has three grandchildren.

Further reading


Physics articles

  • Effect of a Composition Dependent Surface Tension upon the Masses and Stability of Heavy Nuclei, With R. Brandt, F. G. Werner, M. Wakano and J. A. Wheeler. Proc. of International Conference on Nuclidic Masses, Hamilton, (1960).
  • Dependence on Neutron Production in Fission on Rate of Change of Nuclear Potential (Thesis with John A. Wheeler), Physical Review 126, 684 (1962).
  • Causality and Multiply Connected Space-Time, with John A. Wheeler, Physical Review 128, 919 (1962).
  • S-Matrix Solution for the Forced Harmonic Oscillator, with S. M. Harris and E. L. Slaggie. American Journal of Physics 31, 431 (1963).

Other articles

  • On the Origin of Order in Behavior, General Systems, Vol. XI, pp. 99–112 (1966) MHRI, Univ. of Michigan (co-authored with Peter Putnam)
  • Causal and Moral Law—Their Relationship as Examined in Terms of a Model of the Brain, Center for Advanced Studies, Wesleyan University, Monday Evening Papers: # 13 (1967) (On Peter Putnam’s work.)
  • On Educating Model-Builders, Publication of the 18th Symposium of the Conference on Science, Philosophy, and Religion, Jewish Theological Seminary, (1968)
  • Project Rebound: A Science Course of Near-Drop-outs, Science Education News (AAAS) Nov. 1969.
  • Polar Bears, Walrus Hides, and Social Solidarity, The Alaska Journal, Vol. 3, No. 2; Spring, 1973 (with Sergei Bogojavlensky).
  • Inflation: The Rising Cost of Living on a Small Planet, Worldwatch Paper, No. 34, Fall 1979.
  • Inflation on a Small Planet, Economic Impact, 1980, No. 3.
  • Inflation as a World Problem, Cry California, 1980, Summer
  • Our Enemies, Our Selves, CoEvolution Quarterly, Spring 1980.
  • A Better Game Than War, Evolutionary Blues, 1983. The Utne Reader Vol. 1, No. 1, Feb. 1984; Reprinted in The Peace Catalog, Press for Peace, Seattle, WA.; and in Citizen Summitry: Keeping the Peace when it Matters Too Much to be Left to Politicians, J. Tarcher, L.A., and St. Martin's, N.Y.C., 1986.
  • Motzu in Kenya and Poland, CoEvolution Quarterly, Spring 1983.
  • Motzuing: Notes on Discussions Regarding Nuclear Winter and Space Bridges with Chinese and Soviet Scientists, Whole Earth Review, May, 1985.
  • We Are All Afrikaners, Annals of Earth, Vol. IV, #2, 1986. Reprinted in In Context, No. 14, Autumn 1986.
  • AmerRuss, Whole Earth Review, Winter 1986; updated, as One World Scenario, Whole Earth Review, Fall 1990.
  • Proposal for a World Peace Corps, included in the anthology Securing our Planet: How to Succeed When Threats Are Too Risky and There's Really No Defense, J. Tarcher, L.A., and St. Martin's, N.Y.C., 1986.
  • The Asian Vortex, (with Robert Cabot), Harvard Magazine, November 1987. Reprinted in Resurgence, March-April 1988, Issue 127.
  • Chasing Our Shadow, New Age Journal, Jan. 1988; Interview by David Hoffman.
  • From Physics to Peace, included in the anthology At the Leading Edge, edited by Michael Toms, Larson Publications, Burdett, N.Y., 1991.
  • Empire’s End, Russia’s Rebirth, (with Robert Cabot), Harvard Magazine, May-June, 1991, Volume 93, No. 5. (Also published in Annals of Earth, May, 1991.) Also, Should We Help Russia?, Harvard Magazine, (October, 1991).
  • A description of citizen diplomacy, which includes a description of the “Motzu” project, may be found in the book Multi-Track Diplomacy: A Systems Guide and Analysis, by Louise Diamond and John McDonald, Iowa Peace Institute (1991).
  • The Future of Equality, The Deeper News, A Global Business Network Publication, Volume 4, Number 1, February 1993.
  • Section in All of Us: Americans Talk About the Meaning of Death, Edited by Patricia Anderson, Delacorte Press, N. Y., N. Y. (1996), pp. 323–327.

External links


  1. Dignitarian Foundation, Conversation with Robert W. Fuller, 2004-2006,[dead link]
  2. Fuller, Robert W.; Pamela A. Gerloff (2008). Dignity for All: How to Create a World Without Rankism. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. back cover. ISBN 978-1-57675-7895.

es:Robert W. Fuller

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