Professor James Davison Hunter, one of America’s preeminent sociologists of religion, is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology and Religious studies at the University of Virginia. He graduated from Gordon College and later studied under the eminent sociologist Peter Berger at Rutgers University, where he completed his doctorate in 1981. Mr. Hunter joined the faculty of the University of Virginia in 1983, where he currently serves as the Department Chair and the Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. Mr. Hunter has written eight books and a wide range of essays, articles, and reviews all variously concerned with the problem of meaning and moral order in a time of political and cultural change in American life. These have earned him national recognition and numerous literary awards. In 1988 he received the Distinguished Book Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion for “Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation”. In 1991 he was the recipient of the Gustavus Myers Award for the Study of Human Rights for “Articles of Faith; Articles of Peace”. The Los Angeles Times named Mr. Hunter as a finalist for their 1992 Book Prize for “Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America”, for which he also received an Honorable Mention in the Phi Beta Kappa Book Competition.
In recent years, much of Mr. Hunter’s time has focused on establishing and overseeing the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, a university-based, interdisciplinary research center concerned with understanding contemporary cultural change and its implications for individuals, institutions, and society. Under his direction, the Institute has sponsored university-wide colloquia, provided doctoral and post-doctoral research support, held conferences, and fielded two national surveys of public opinion on the changing political culture of late 20th and early 21st century America.
Mr. Hunter’s latest work, “The Death of Character” (Basic Books, 2000), is a historical and cultural analysis of moral education in American society. The focus of this research is on the social and cultural conditions that make “character” possible, how these conditions have changed over the years, and what these changes mean for the normative ordering of self in society.
Over the years, his research findings have been presented to audiences on National Public Radio and C-Span, at the National Endowment for the Arts and at dozens of colleges and universities around the country including Columbia, Harvard, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, and Holy Cross College. He also has been a consultant to the White House, the Bicentennial Commission for the U.S. Constitution, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the National Commission on Civic Renewal. Mr. Hunter also instrumental in founding of The Trinity Forum and over the years has contributed to the development of several of the Trinity Forum’s curricula.