In memory of Dr. Kurt Bowen, Professor Emeritus Sociology
It is with deep sadness that I inform you that Dr. Kurt Bowen, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Sociology, passed away on August 11, 2016.
Kurt grew up in Ottawa, completing his BA Sociology at Carleton University before earning his D.Phil. from Oxford in 1977. Kurt’s scholarly work earned him an Assistant Professorship offer from Western University but he pursued a position at Acadia and joined our faculty in 1979. Kurt was appointed Full Professor in 1996, and in 2012 he retired and was honoured by his colleagues by being named Professor Emeritus.
Kurt’s academic career was marked by his intense interest in people and his impeccable skills as a researcher and writer. In 1983 he published Protestants in a Catholic State: Ireland's Privileged Minority, a study of Southern Ireland’s minority Protestant and ethnically British community. By that time, Kurt had discovered an enduring attachment to Mexico, a country he visited frequently up to the last year of his life. His second book, Evangelism and Apostasy: The Evolution and Impact of Evangelicals in Modern Mexico, was based on hundreds of interviews he conducted in Spanish. The book was named in Choice’s list of outstanding books publishedin 1996. In 2004 he published Christians in a Secular World: The Canadian Experience. Drawing on secondary data from 18 surveys, he demonstrated that religious commitment, defined by people’s activities and not only their beliefs, still mattered in Canada. All three books were published by McGill-Queens University Press. Kurt spent his final sabbatical in Kenya where he conducted another round of 319 face-to-face interviews among members of the Anglican community. His fourth book, Anglicans in Postcolonial Africa: The Kenyan Experience has just been released. He addresses what he calls the “genteel decline” of Anglicanism in the former British colony.
Kurt was an excellent lecturer and an exacting thesis supervisor. He made important contributions to the Acadia community through his service on Senate, numerous academic committees and a term as Department Head. Kurt’s compassion extended into the broader community where he was an active volunteer with many organizations from his arrival in Wolfville until his recent retirement.
Although my personal contact with Dr. Bowen was limited, he struck me as the consummate scholar with a gentle and human touch. I was impressed by Kurt’s interest in our international students and the role the academy could play in improving circumstances in other countries – particularly for members of marginalized communities. He also exemplified that wonderful hallmark of the Acadia professoriate: an intense commitment to his students.
Kurt and his wife Dale loved to travel and, at home, recounted their adventures over Sunday dinners with their many friends. Each year they would host one or more of Acadia’s international students. This was not simply a matter of providing room and board; Kurt and Dale provided a home and were family to these students.
At Kurt’s request, there will be no service but I ask you to join me in expressing our sincerest condolences to Dale, their children Miranda and Jonathan, and his many friends and colleagues.
Raymond E. Ivany
President and Vice-Chancellor
15 University Avenue
Wolfville, NS B4P 2R6