Asking Better Questions with Robert Fuller, Ph.D.

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From traveling across Russia on the Trans-Siberian railroad to the “Golden Rule” in religion, Robert Fuller takes us on a wide and deep adventure, always returning to the idea that learning to ask better questions is one of the keys to truly improving our lives and improving society. In Fuller’s varied career from serving as a college president and consultant to Presidents he always comes back to the fundamental practice of striving to ask better questions. Even in the early days when we first met Bob, he was asking the question of what would make a better game than war. He continues to be ever curious and says, “Once you've been able to formulate a question, you're a lot closer to the answer than you might think. The really hard work is in coming up with the question. . . We’re trained to suppress our own questions because, in this society, it's of value to be sure of yourself, so we don't want to admit we have questions or that we're questioning something fundamental about the culture or ourselves. But if you can, in quiet moments, listen to the nagging doubts that usually are borne home by what I call the witness.” He reminds us that this “witness”, this inner voice, doesn’t yell but whispers. This quiet knowing is a truth teller and will help us get closer to speaking our questions out loud. This dialogue will also include thoughts on how the dignitarian movement can lead to personal peace as well as world peace. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Robert Fuller, Ph.D. is a physicist and former president of Oberlin College. He has consulted with Indira Gandhi, met with Jimmy Carter regarding the President's Commission on World Hunger, and worked to defuse the Cold War in Russia when it was known as the USSR. As Fuller reflected on his career he realized that he had been, at different times in his life, a somebody and a nobody. His periodic sojourns into “Nobodyland” led him to identify rankism - the abuse of the power inherent in rank - and ultimately to write the book Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank. He has become a recognized leader of the dignity movement to overcome rankism and keynoted a Dignity for All conference hosted by the President of Bangladesh. His many other accomplishments include co-authoring the text book Mathematics of Classical and Quantum Physics.

Robert Fuller’s books include:

To view a video about the work of Robert W. Fuller click here, or go to his website:

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How citizen diplomacy helped end the “cold war”
  • What is the dignitarian movement and how will it help form a new form of governance
  • How religion can be a great ally of change
  • Why the “Golden Rule” is a universal concept in all the world’s religions
  • How deep listening can lead to survival of truth
  • How do we learn to ask better questions
  • Why the whole “somebody” and “nobody” game is on its last legs

Host: Justine Willis Toms       Interview Date: 2/5/2013     Program Number: 3464

Music Playlist

From Album: Oracle
Artist: Michael Hedges
1996 Windham Hill #CSL 02

Opening Essay: Track 01 The 2nd Law
Music Break 1: Track 05 Jitterboogie
Music Break 2: Track 02 Ignition
Music Break 3: Track 07 Gospel