Russell Arben Fox

Russell Arben Fox has always used his full name for all professional–and sometimes even unprofessional–matters, because he likes it. “Russell” connects him to his father and his grandfather, to their fondness for the western art of Charles M. Russell, and to the wheat fields, pine trees, and rolling hills of the Inland Empire–centering on Spokane, Washington–where he grew up on a farm, milking cows by hand (his father thought it would build character). “Arben” connects him to his maternal grandfather, a gentleman and Latter-day Saint who was raised in a tiny all-Mormon village in southern Utah, but made a home for his family in Vernal, Utah, the heart of the isolated, starkly beautiful Uintah Basin, a region where most of his grandfather’s descendants still reside. “Fox” connects him to a convoluted genealogy stretching from Washington State to western Canada, Iowa, and before that to England, Ireland, and France–and now, with his marriage to Melissa Madsen, herself of product of Scandinavian pioneers who formed tight-knit Mormon settlements in Sanpete County in central Utah in the mid-19th century, the connection includes Denmark, Sweden, and even a dash of Norway. Connections are important to Russell; it is from them that communities are built.

Russell and Melissa have been married since 1993; they have four children, all daughters. Russell received a BA in political science and an MA in international studies from Brigham Young University, then went on to receive a PhD in political theory in 2001 from Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, where Stephen Schneck was his advisor. Along the way, he worked as a dishwasher, a newspaper reporter, a bookstacker and a bookseller. Since completing his degree and embarking on his very nearly life-long ambition to be a college professor, he has lived and taught (often with terrible pay, but always full-time and with benefits, so he knows he’s been lucky) in Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Illinois, and now in Wichita, KS, where he runs the political science program at Friends University, a small Christian liberal arts school, the campus of which Russell is able to look out over from his third story office in the historic Davis Building. His wife and he somewhat miss the ten years they spent in the American South, just as he sometimes misses the West and she sometimes misses the beaches of California and Michigan where she grew up, but they have come to realize that in a mobile world–one which has become such at least as much due to our own choices as to structural realities–coming to be at home in a place is often almost as much a matter of desire as circumstance. (Being pretty good at e-mail correspondence with distant friends and family hasn’t hurt either.) In any case, they love their circumstances now–the windy plains and brilliant blue skies of Kansas–and plan on grounding their daughters as firmly as possible in them.

Russell teaches all manner of courses dealing with American government, the Constitution, comparative politics, political ideologies, Asian history and culture (he lived for two years in South Korea as a church missionary), international relations, human rights, and so forth. He is currently working on a few articles dealing with Wendell Berry, William Jennings Bryan, Confucius, Johann Gottfried Herder, and is co-authoring a book on the political theory of Fred Dallmayr, his doktorvater’s doktorvater, if that makes any sense. He also blogs, irregularly but always at too-great a length here, where, when not geeking about pop culture or talking about recycling, bicycling, and gardening, he ruminates about the politics of the day and wonders if or how a socially conservative, economically progressive, communitarian populist like himself could fit into a world which must turn more localist if it is going to survive. The honor of commenting for a while at the Front Porch Republic, for which he is very grateful, suggests to him that all his wondering may have done some good, after all.

Sustainability in Cities that Hold Steady

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res] Wichita, KS, is a large city, a regional center for manufacturing, medicine, finance, and the arts. It’s also a politically conservative place, which means that you don’t hear a lot of talk about ...

Wichita and the Dilemma of Mid-Sized Cities

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res] There’s been some depressing news here in Wichita, Kansas, of late. Not the sort of depressing news that one might typically fear to hear when one speaks about city life: gang violence, police corruptio...

Whatever Happened to Communitarianism?

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res] Twenty years ago, the concept and label “communitarianism” was riding high, or at least as high as any broadly applicable yet intellectually coherent ideological movement usually ever does in the ...

Bernie Sanders: Front Porch Socialist?

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res] This October, Front Porch Republic will host its annual conference in Geneseo, NY, just a short day’s drive from Burlington, Vermont, the home current presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders. Senator San...

A Presidential Proposal Worthy of the Porch

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res] The blogger, pundit, screenwriter, and all-around mensch Noah Millman has come up with a brilliant idea–Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator from Vermont, and Jim Webb, former U.S. Senator from Virginia, both o...