Dave Belden acquired a BA in modern history and a D Phil (same as a PhD) in the sociology of religion at Oxford University. The first was done as a good boy obeying parental wishes, the second as a passionate enquiry into the religious movement his parents had raised him in, in an attempt to stave off despair after leaving it, rejecting belief in God, and adopting radical left politics.
At age 32, after a decade in countercultural organizing - including co-founding two worker-owned collectives, one of which launched the first fair trade commodity in England (Campaign Coffee) - and after having spent 30 years in communal houses, he fell in love with an American feminist, emigrated, and went all nuclear family. The stresses of collectives had convinced him that to fulfill their goals cooperative structures required a level of personal maturity and relational skills that were just not yet adequately available in the culture.
Instead he wrote thought experiments to discover why patriarchy had ever got started, in the form of science fiction adventures set in a genderless future (Children of Arable and To Warm The Earth). He supported himself as a carpenter, a business writer, and a college professor teaching sociology to undergrads, who were mostly being obedient children, and social work grad students, who were passionate about understanding society.
With his son in college, Dave got back full time into trying to change the world, looking for groups committed to integrating three elements: structural change, spiritual insight, and the development of personal and relational skills that enable cooperation. After four years as managing editor of Tikkun magazine, he got passionate about restorative justice, which appears to him to embody all three. He volunteers with Sonya Shah and the Insight Prison Project at San Quentin prison and is publishing the first restorative justice comic book (due out April 2014). He works half time for Bay Area Nonviolent Communication.
All this explains why he is thrilled to be teaching at CIIS.