200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effect: Stewart Sutherland, House of lords and philosopher of religion

Stewart Sutherland, Lord Sutherland of Houndwood is one of the most distinguished figures of his time in the field of education and in public life and was made a Fellow of Birkbeck in 2004.

He was appointed as a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University College of North Wales in Bangor in 1965, moving after three years to the University of Stirling. It was here that he began the series of philosophical investigations which would establish his reputation as a theological thinker of versatility, reach and imagination. In works such as Atheism and the Rejection of God (1977), Faith and Ambiguity (1984) and God, Jesus and Belief (1984).

He explored the problems of maintaining moral responsibility in a world of competing faiths and values. He responded to and stimulated the broadening mood in theological thinking with his influential edited volumes World Religions (1988) and The Study of Religion: Traditional and New Religions (1991). In 1977, he was appointed to a Chair in the History and Philosophy of Religion at King’s College, London, but the demands of university service had already begun to assert themselves in 1981, when he became Vice-Principal of King’s, taking over as Principal of the college in 1985.

During his period as Principal of King’s, he served also, from 1988 to 1991, as Governor of Birkbeck.


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