Fall 2020 SSF Events


America’s Amoral Constitution

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Richard Albert, William Stamps Farish Professor in Law and Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin

By design, the U.S. Constitution does not evaluate whether a lawful choice is morally right or wrong; it evaluates only whether the choice satisfies the procedures the Constitution requires for it to have been made. These fiercely democratic foundations serve as both the font of the Constitution’s popular legitimacy and more ominously also the greatest threat to the liberal democratic principles that today define the Constitution in its common perception at home and abroad.

Constitution Day Lecture, sponsored by the Department of Political Science and the Center for Democracy and Civic Life.

Are We Underinvesting in Education?

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David Card, Class of 1950 Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley and President-Elect of the American Economics Association.

In the U.S., universities traditionally have been viewed as engines of economic growth and essential for supporting upward mobility — both for individuals and the nation. However, across many decades, a persistent counter-narrative has cast doubt on their value. Recently, concerns about rising tuition, student debt, and job insecurity have bred a dystopian view of university education.

Economist David Card argues that this view ignores a mass of positive data. While profound challenges confront American higher education, universities still bring enormous economic benefits to individual students and to the nation. Empirical evidence shows that the economic rewards for a college degree are higher than ever. In addition, there are other benefits, such as better health, a longer life, and potentially more life satisfaction. Despite these benefits, the U.S. public education system has expanded very little, especially investment in public universities.

Mullen Lecture, sponsored by the Department of Economics.

Black COVID Stories, Black Lives Matter, and Protest: A Conversation about the Ongoing Struggle for Justice and Change

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Karsonya (Kaye) Wise Whitehead, Associate Professor of Communication and African and African American Studies in the Department of Communication at Loyola University Maryland. Dr. Whitehead earned her Ph.D. in 2009 from UMBC, in the Language, Literacy and Culture program.

2020 has been a very difficult year, with the violent deaths of Black men and women at the hands of police and would-be vigilantes and the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the Black and Brown communities. Conversations have been reignited around the country about anti-Blackness and anti-racism, policing and justice. As we move forward, questions remain about what the long-term impact will be on our society and the ways in which we can reimagine our way forward. Dr. Karsonya Wise Whitehead will address these questions and facilitate a larger conversation about systemic racism, engagement, and the current calls for justice.

42nd W.E.B. Du Bois Lecture, sponsored by the Department of Africana Studies, the Center for Social Science Scholarship, and the Dresher Center for the Humanities.