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Neil Smelser
Harvard College, 1952, B.A., Social Relations
University of Oxford, B.A. 1954; M.A. 1959, Philosophy, Politics & Economics
Harvard University, 1958, Ph.D.
San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute, 1971

Neil Smelser is a Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.  He grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, during the 1930s and 1940s as the middle child in a family of three boys.  After his time at Oxford, at the age of 26 he co-authored Economy and Society with Talcott Parsons, a renowned American sociologist.  He is a former president of the American Sociological Association.  He was also the Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford from 1994 to 2001.   Professor Smelser is the author of over a dozen books, including The Theory of Collective Behavior.  His most current publication is The Odyssey Experience: Physical, Social, Psychological, and Spiritual Journeys. It is a “very general study of taking leave from your daily circumstances and getting involved in something special.”  Travel continues to remain an important aspect of his life ever since he hitchhiked all over Europe in his youth.

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Jeremy DauberJeremy Dauber
Harvard University, 1995, A.B., Social Studies
University of Oxford, 1999, D. Phil., Yiddish Studies

Jeremy Dauber grew up in Northern New Jersey, the oldest of three boys.  Before heading to college, he studied abroad for a year at a yeshiva in Israel.  He is currently an associate professor in the Germanic Languages and Literatures department at Columbia University, where he is also the director of the Yiddish studies program and director of the university’s Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies.  He has written Antonio’s Devils: Writers of the Jewish Enlightenment and the Birth of Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literature and co-edited and co-translated (with Joel Berkowitz) an anthology called Landmark Yiddish Plays.  He has also written a television and movie review column for the Christian Science Monitor.

We spoke in August 2008 during the Beijing Summer Olympics.

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Faith SalieFaith Salie
Harvard University, 1993, B.A., History and Literature
University of Oxford, 1995, M. Phil., Modern English Literature

Faith Salie was born in Boston, but grew up mainly in Atlanta, Georgia, the youngest of three children. At an early age, she found a love for theater. She attended Northwestern University for a year before transferring to Harvard, where she won the Jonathan Levy Award for most promising actor at the university. She had a brief stint on “Sex in the City” involving a gold lamé outfit and portrayed a genetically enhanced mutant on a couple of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” episodes. She has also done years of stand-up comedy and improv, including two seasons in the BRAVO sitcom, “Significant Others.” You can now find her hosting a public radio satirical news and entertainment show called “Fair Game” from Public Radio International. Read the rest of this entry »

Bonnie St. John
Harvard University, 1986, B.A., International Political EconomyBonnie St. John
University of Oxford, 1990, M. Litt., Economics

Bonnie St. John grew up in San Diego, California, the youngest of three children of a single working mother. At the age of five, her leg was amputated, because of a birth defect. But 10 years later, after a friend invited her to go skiing, she decided to pursue competitive skiing. While in college, she participated in the 1984 Paralympics in Innsbruck, Austria. Despite falling after hitting an icy patch during one of her races, she went on to win two bronze medals in the slalom and giant slalom. She also received a silver medal for her overall ranking as the second-fastest female amputee skier in the world. Before becoming a motivational speaker and coach, she had a successful career in sales for IBM and was on the National Economic Council under the Clinton administration. She is also the author of three books: Succeeding Sane: Making Room for Joy in a Crazy World, Getting Ahead at Work Without Leaving Your Family Behind, and Money: Fall Down? Get Up! In November 2007, she published her fourth book entitled How Strong Women Pray, featuring interviews with Maya Angelou, Barbara Bush, Edie Falco, and others.

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