Parker Palmer (1962)

Writer, Educational Consultant and Speaker, Madison, Wisconsin

My years in Berkeley (1962-65, 1967-69), were among the most formative of my life, largely because of the social movements of that era and the vision of community I caught and never lost. I specialized in the sociology of religion, and have long felt grateful to Robert Bellah, Hanan Selvin, Gertrude Selznick, Philip Selznick and Neal Smelser for their mentoring (and to Albert Rasmussen and Charles S. McCoy, both deceased, who were on the faculty at Pacific School of Religion). The influence of sociology in my life and work is largely caught up in C. Wright Mills' notion of the sociological imagination, which I value deeply and try to keep alive. When I left Berkeley in 1969, I left formal academic life as well. I moved to Washington, D.C., where I was a community organizer working a racial issues for five years, and then to Philadelphia, where I worked for a decade as dean of studies at Pendle Hill, the Quaker living-learning community. During that time, I started trying to learn how to write, and am now working on my seventh book; the last two were "The Courage to Teach" and "Let Your Life Speak". For the past fifteen years, I've worked independently as a writer and traveling teacher, focused on the same themes that preoccupied me in Berkeley: education, community, spirituality and social change. During this time I have lived in Madison, Wisconsin, a city that reminds me of Berkeley, thus making me feel much younger than the sixty-four that I am. For that reason, I have no intention of moving, ever! I am taking 2004 as a work-free, sixty-fifth year sabbatical to try to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. 

Dissertation Title: 
A Comparative Analysis of the Process of Secularization in Modern Societies