Leon R. Kass, M.D., is the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago and Emeritus Scholar at AEI. He was the chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics from 2001 to 2005.
Originally trained in medicine and biochemistry, he shifted directions from doing science to thinking about its human meaning, and he has been engaged for forty years with ethical and philosophical issues raised by biomedical advancements, and, more recently, with broader moral and cultural issues. Dr. Kass taught at St. John’s College (Annapolis) and Georgetown University before returning in 1976 to the University of Chicago, where he was until 2010 an award-winning teacher deeply involved in undergraduate education and committed to the study of classic texts. With his late wife, Amy A. Kass, he helped found a still-popular core humanities course on Human Being and Citizen and a degree-granting major, Fundamentals: Issues and Texts, emphasizing big questions and great books.
His books include, most recently, Founding God’s Nation: Reading Exodus; Reading Ruth: Birth, Redemption, and the Way of Israel, as well as Toward A More Natural Science: Biology and Human Affairs; The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of our Nature; Life, Liberty, and the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics; The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis; What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song; and Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times. Along with coeditors Amy Kass and Diana Schaub, Dr. Kass developed the What So Proudly We Hail e-curriculum, including video discussions and curricula materials that demonstrate how short stories can be used to enhance our understanding of the Meaning of America and the American Calendar.
Dr. Kass served on the National Council on the Humanities of the National Endowment for the Humanities and delivered its Jefferson Lecture in 2009.
To learn more about Dr. Kass, visit Contemporary Thinkers: Leon Kass.