Experts in the psychology of politics and the life of Martin Buber win 2009 Rollo May Award

The exclusive award, given every two years, honors scholars whose life work demonstrates faith in human possibility

This year Saybrook will honor the author of a seminal study on the psychological underpinnings of political beliefs, as well as the world’s foremost authority on Jewish philosopher Martin Buber. Every two years Saybrook, in collaboration with the Rollo May Committee, presents the Rollo May Award for Humanistic Service, recognizing distinguished individuals whose life’s work demonstrates faith in human possibility.

2009 recipient Dr. Maurice Friedman has been called “the world’s foremost authority” on Martin Buber, and authored the landmark texts on that seminal 20th century thinker. His three volume biography Martin Buber’s Life and Work received the National Jewish Book Award. Dr. Friedman is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University and is the Co-Director of the Institute for Dialogical Psychotherapy in San Diego. He received his PhD in the History of Culture from the University of Chicago. His other writings include works on the thought of Melville, Dostoevsky, Kafka and Camus, as well as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Elie Wiesel. Dr. Friedman is also a Distinguished Consulting Faculty member at Saybrook.

2009’s other recipient, Dr. M. Brewster Smith, has been a pivotal figure in social psychology and personality studies for more than half a century. The recipient of the Gold Medal Award of the American Psychological Foundation for Lifetime Contributions by a psychologist to the Public Interest, Dr. Smith coauthored the pioneering book Opinions and Personality, which offers an in-depth treatment of how people’s political opinions reflect and are partly shaped by the ways those views contribute to the functioning of their personalities. Dr. Smith received his PhD at Harvard in 1947, and has served on the faculties of Vassar College, New York University, University of California/Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and the University of California/Santa Cruz.

Dr. Rollo May was one of the most influential American psychologists and philosophers of the 20th century and a key figure in the founding of Saybrook Graduate School and Research center. He exhibited an unflinching trust in the transformative power of love, choice, and creative action. This award is named after him to encourage the continuation of his legacy. The awards will be presented on Friday, January 16, 2009. The presentation will take place in the Westin Ballroom at the Westin San Francisco.

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