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Son of Jens Christian and Ruth (Amneus) Bay, Christian Bay was born in Oslo, Norway on April 19, 1921. His sister is named Marie Bay. He first married to Nancy Ritcher, whom he divorced in 1948. He then married Juanita Evelyn Boozer in 1959 with whom he would have three children: Marit, Mia, and Jonah (previously Helge).
Professor Bay’s first year in law at the University of Oslo was interrupted when he fled the country as the Nazis were said to be arresting law students involved in the production of a resistance newspaper. He did so by bicycling to the mountains and skiing across the Swedish border. Returning to Oslo, he would complete his legal studies, the equivalent of a LL.B., in 1943.
Following his studies, he left Norway in 1943 for political reasons and remained in Sweden in the service of the exiled government until the end of the war. His first assignment was to study at a special Norwegian wartime program for three months at Stockholm’s school for police officials. After passing his exams in March 1944, he was assigned to police work. For the first three months, he worked in a semi-military camp for Norwegians at Gottröra north of Stockholm. Then, he served as a staff member of the Royal Norwegian Consulate in Gothenburg for approximately twelve months. Professor Bay’s service with the Norwegian police continued for almost another year in Oslo after liberation. He was responsible was to preparing the government’s case in the prosecution of Norwegian Nazis who had collaborated with the Germans.
In the fall of 1946 he was awarded the Rockefeller Fellowship. Professor Bay studied at the University of Chicago from August 1946 to February 1947 and at Harvard University from September 1947 to May 1948. The interruption in studies for the fellowship was spent serving as an attaché with the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington through an office in New York. Following the end of his fellowship, Bay returned to Oslo in 1948 and participated in establishing the Institute of Social Research with a group of young social scientists.
Professor Bay then completed his PhD at the University of Oslo in 1959, publishing his thesis as a book, The Structure of Freedom, which won the 1959 Woodrow Wilson Foundation’s book award. During his doctoral studies, Bay taught at the University of Oslo in 1955, Michigan State University in 1956 as an instructor of political science, and the University of California at Berkley as an assistant professor in the Speech department from 1957 to 1962.
He was then hired by Stanford University as a lecturer and research associate for the Study of the Human Problem from 1961 to 1966. At the University of Alberta, Professor Bay was appointed the rank of professor and head of the Department of Political Science from 1966 to 1969. He stepped down to the sole role of professor from 1969 to 1972. Professor Bay then moved to the University of Toronto from which he retired in 1988.
Professor Bay’s research interests included the topics of peace studies, political philosophy and the psychology of politics. His work is regarded as an explication and defense of what he called “radical humanism”. Bay considered his five principal publications to be the Structure of Freedom (1958, 1964, 1970), Strategies of Political Emancipation (1981), “Politics and Pseudopolitics” (1965), “Political and Apolitical Students: Facts in Search of Theory” (1967), and “Peace and Critical Political Knowledge as Human Rights” (1980).
Professor Bay was actively involved in the profession and in the wider community. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a member of the governing council of the American Political Science Association from 1971 to 1973, chair for the Caucus for a New Political Science from 1971 to 1972, a member of the council of the International Society of Political Psychology from 1981 to 1983. His 1969 defeat in the run for presidency of the American Political Science Association was a hotly contested debate.