Breaking Ranks: Dignity For All with Robert Fuller, Ph.D.

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Rank based abuse, or rankism, is as old as time, and takes its toll on everyone, some much more than others. In personal relationships, rankism takes the form of disrespect, disregard, insult and humiliation. When one nation pulls rank on another, demanding subservience or surrender, the result is often war. This is a timely and long suppressed topic that Fuller addresses with deep insight, and in doing so, radically alters our worldview.


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 you can stop the exploration of rank
  • What are the ways to address rankism in your life
  • How rankism relates to freedom and democracy
  • Why rankism is often unconscious behavior
  • How rankism connects to addiction
Interviewer: Michael Toms        Interview Date: 4/24/2003                           Program Number: 2983