Cornel R. West, MA, PhD
Dietrich Bonhoeffer Professor of Philosophy & Christian Practice
A.B., Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, Harvard University, 1973
M.A., Philosophy, Princeton University, 1975
Ph.D., Philosophy, Princeton University, 1980
Dr. Cornel West is the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Chair at Union Theological Seminary. Dr. West teaches on the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as well as courses in Philosophy of Religion, African American Critical Thought, and a wide range of subjects — including but by no means limited to, the classics, philosophy, politics, cultural theory, literature, and music.
Dr. West is the former Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. Cornel West graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton.
He has written 20 books and has edited 13. He is best known for his classics, Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and for his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. His most recent book, Black Prophetic Fire, offers an unflinching look at nineteenth and twentieth-century African American leaders and their visionary legacies.
Dr. West is a frequent guest on the Bill Maher Show, CNN, C-Span and Democracy Now. He has a passion to communicate to a vast variety of publics in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. – a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.
This course examines two prophetic figures of the Twentieth Century. Both are exemplary in their profound thought, moral courage, genuine spirituality, and willingness to confront xenophobic ways of life.
This course critically plunges into the rich tradition of Black political thought. Students begin with Phyllis Wheatley, David Walker, and Martin Delaney, through Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Marcus Garvey, and C. L. James, and on to James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Stokely Carmichael, and Angela Davis. The textual basis of this class is the instant classic – “African American Political Thought: A Collected History”, edited by Melvin L. Rogers and Jack Turner, University of Chicago Press, 2020.
This course examines the classical works of three modern intellectuals: W.E.B. Du Bois, Lorraine Hansberry and Toni Morrison. Students wrestle with the rich formulations, subtle arguments and courageous visions of three Black thinkers who continue to speak with power and passion to our turbulent times.
This course seeks to explore the life and teachings of Mohandas K. Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Recent years have seen a considerable expansion of the literature on both figures. The time is ripe for a reconsideration of their legacy with respect to such central questions as the viability of nonviolent resistance in a context of neoliberalism, ecological devastation, the relationship between spirituality and political engagement, and the conflict between religious traditions. What is the meaning and promise of their double legacy for our time? What can both figures teach us about interreligious dialogue and learning? What is the relationship between the work of Gandhi and King and the later emergence of liberation theology? What can we learn from Malcolm X’s critique of King, B. R. Ambedkar’s critique of Gandhi and feminist critiques of both?