Indian university taps Holmes for chair


Robert Holmes, professor of philosophy, has been appointed to the newly established Rajiv Gandhi Chair in Peace and Disarmament at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India.

He will continue as a professor at the University while occupying the Gandhi Chair.

Holmes is a world-renowned expert on issues of peace and non-violence. He has been invited to numerous conferences in Europe, the Middle East, the United States and Canada, and participated in the first conference on nonviolence ever held in the former Soviet Union in November 1989. Most recently he was invited to speak at the World Congress of Philosophy held in Boston in August.

As the first appointee to the Gandhi Chair, Holmes will shape the mission of the chair on instruction, research, or lectures. He will deliver the chair's inaugural lecture here on "The Challenge of Nonviolence in the 21st Century," during a colloquium starting November 14. The date, which marks the birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru, will also be celebrated at the university that bears his name in New Delhi.

"Bob is that remarkable scholar whose ground-breaking research is also an expression of an unshakable sense of social responsibility, and whose commitment to research never gets in the way of his commitment to teaching. The enthusiasm of his students here speaks for itself," said philosophy department chair Deborah Modrak.

"The Rajiv Gandhi Chair provides further evidence of the extent to which Holmes's work on non-violence has influenced thinking on this topic throughout the world."

A member of the Rochester faculty since 1962, Holmes specializes in ethics and in social and political philosophy, and he has long advocated the view that war is immoral. Active in Rochester-area peace groups in the 1960s, he ran for Congress in 1968 on a campaign of peace and justice issues. Holmes called for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam, using the savings in military spending for educational and anti-poverty programs, ending the draft, and urging the United Nations to ban international military sales while working on disarmament and nonmilitary responses to world conflict.

Holmes has written numerous articles and books on ethics and peace, including On War and Morality. He also edited an anthology titled Nonviolence in Theory and Practice and for three years has been the editor of Public Affairs Quarterly, a scholarly journal on current issues in social and political philosophy.

Holmes is the recipient of a Fulbright Lectureship to the former Soviet Union, research grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, and fellowships from the National Humanities Institute at Yale University and the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois. He also was awarded first prize for an essay on violence in a competition sponsored by the Council for Philosophical Studies.

Besides teaching courses in non-violence and ethics, Holmes is developing a correspondence course with taped lectures for the Gandhi Center for Non-Violence at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tenn.

A graduate of Harvard University, Holmes holds master's and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan.

Jawaharlal Nehru University was created as a memorial to the first prime minister of India by a government act "to promote the principles for which Jawaharlal Nehru worked during his lifetime, namely, national integration, social justice, secularism, democratic way of life, international understanding and scientific approach to the problems of society." It is the premier research university in the country, with a student body that is actively involved in campus politics and elections.

JNU, which opened in 1969, has 4,151 students, of whom 22.5 percent come from underprivileged castes and ethnic groups. The university is organized under seven schools: social sciences, international studies, languages, life science, environmental sciences, computer and system sciences, and physical sciences. In addition to the Gandhi Chair, JNU has six other specially designated chairs.

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