To Change the World (Past Event)

Date + Time

June 13, 15, 16 & 17 2005

Quick Summary

James Davidson Hunter offered a fresh perspective on changing the world on his tour across Canada. 


"Overlapping networks of leaders and overlapping resources, all operating in the centre of peak institutions- in common purpose. These are the practical dynamics of world changing. These are the conditions under which ideas finally have consequences."

James Davidson Hunter challenged listeners across Canada to brainstorm fresh and innovative ideas about changing the world through cultural transformation. consequences.” James Davidson Hunter challenged listeners across Canada to brainstorm fresh and innovative ideas about changing the world through cultural transformation.

Culture is commonly understood as the sum total of the values held by individuals. Cultures, then, is changed by changing the “hearts and minds” of those individuals.

A slightly more sophisticated definition of culture is that it is formed by worldviews – history is written by individuals who espouse “great ideas”. Right ideas equal right minds and right choices, which ultimately produce equal a healthy culture.

However, history has shown that numerical dominance has little to no effect on cultural mores. James Davidson Hunter offers an alternative view to cultural change, arguing that  although changing hearts and minds is important, it is not “decisively important” in shifting a culture. Join the WRF and James Davidson Hunter of The University of Virginia at To Change the World: Concrete Ideas for Influencing Culture Faithfully.
Dr. Hunter’s Proposal:

  • Culture is a resource and a form of power.
  • Culture is produced, not by the “great man” but by the “network” and its new institutions.
  • The production of culture is within a rigid structure of “the center and the periphery.”
  • Culture change happens from the top down.
  • Culture change is most effective when elites, their networks, and their institutions overlap.

Keynote: Professor James Davison Hunter is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology and Religious studies at the University of Virginia. He completed his doctorate at Rutgers University in 1981 and joined the faculty of the University of Virginia in 1983. He currently serves as the Department Chair and the Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture.

Hunter has written 8 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.

Date + Time

June 13, 15, 16 & 17 2005


EPCOR Centre, Calgary. Queen's Park, Toronto. National Art Gallery, Ottawa. Fort Garry, Winnipeg.