Internationally acclaimed Harvard University professor Susan Pharr will speak on the rise of civil society in Japan and other Asian nations at Washington State University on Sept 20. She will be the inaugural speaker for a new lecture series sponsored by the Thomas Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service and the International Christian University of Tokyo, Japan.

One of the world’s foremost experts on Japanese politics and the social basis for democracy in East Asia, Pharr is the former Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. and was a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before joining the faculty of Harvard in 1987.

Currently serving as Harvard’s Edwin O. Reischauer professor of Japanese Politics, and as director of the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and of the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, Pharr was chair of that university’s Government Department from 1992 to 1995 and associate dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, 1996-98. She currently is on the Steering Committee of the Asia Center and on the Executive Committee of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

She will be the premiere lecturer for the Thomas S. Foley Institute’s Peace and Security Lecture Series, a new bi-annual series aimed at exploring the many dimensions of peace and security in the 21st Century. The title of her talk is “The Rise of Civil Society in Asia.”

Pharr‘s research on the connections between civil society, cooperative, trust-based relationships, and effective governance of democratic societies is known and applauded around the world,” said Edward Weber, director of the institute and associate professor of the WSU Department of Political Science. “Over the years, she has worked closely with Thomas Foley in his capacity as the former U.S. Ambassador to Japan and has consulted on international issues involving Korea, Japan and East Asia. It is exciting to have a scholar of this caliber visit WSU.”

A member of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, Pharr has been a visiting scholar or fellow in the Faculty of Law at the University of Tokyo and at Keio University, the Woodrow Wilson International Center of Scholars, and the Brookings Institution. Her current research focuses on the forces shaping civil societies, and the changing nature of relations between citizens and states in Asia.

Among her many works are Political Women in Japan (1981); Disaffected Democracies: What’s Troubling the Trilateral Countries? (2000) (with Robert Putnam); and The State of Civil Society in Japan (2003) (with Frank Schwartz), which won the Yujiro Hayashi Prize for 2004.

Pharr will speak at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20 in the Smith Center for Undergraduate Education (CUE) Auditorium 203. The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will follow in the CUE atrium immediately outside the auditorium.