Conference Series Issues

The very first Social Research conference in the series, In Time of Plague: The History and Social Consequences of Lethal Epidemic Disease, considered the AIDS epidemic in relation to the long history and social consequences of lethal epidemic diseases. Since then, conferences have explored a broad spectrum of political, social, cultural, religious, and ethical issues, including how politics and science dictate public policy; the religious-secular divide in the United States; misuse of fear for political ends; capital punishment and incarceration; free inquiry; and international justice. (Please review the summaries below, which link to published proceedings and conference websites.)

Our other public events include evening panel discussions that launch the publication of new Social Research issues featuring authors or speakers inspired by the issue theme. 

Summary of Previous Conferences and Events

 

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Launch of Social Research issue on Politics and Comedy
April 28, 2012

The Spring 2012 issue of Social Research: An International Quarterly (79:1) was launched by a panel discussion with well-known humorists and journalists Tim Carvell (The Daily Show), Nancy Giles (CBS News Sunday Morning), Victor S. Navasky (The Nation), and Marvin Kitman. The event was co-sponsored by The New School for Drama and was part of the 2012 New School Alumni Day. Order the issue online.

Watch the event video online on the CPS YouTube page.


 

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Keynote: Saad Eddin Ibrahim (Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies), Moderator: Talal Asad (CUNY Graduate Center)

Video of the keynote and all other sessions are available on the CPS YouTube page.

27th Conference

Egypt in Transition
April 12, 2012

This conference aimed to shed light on the origins of the events in Tahrir Square, the deposing of President Mubarak, the changes that were under way, and the future of Egypt and the Middle East.

Funding: Carnegie Corporation of New York and the New School Office of the Provost

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 79, Number 2 (Summer 2012). Pre-order the issue online.


 

 

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Keynote Panel: Jamshed Bharucha (Cooper Union), Matthew Goldstein (CUNY), Neil Grabois (The New School for Public Engagement; Williams College; Colgate University) and Robert Zimmer (University of Chicago). Moderator: David Van Zandt (The New School)

Video of the keynote and all other sessions are available on the CPS YouTube page.

26th Conference

The Future of Higher Education
December 8-9, 2011

This public conference aimed to deepen our understanding of the ways in which higher education is changing while many universities enter into global collaborations and the U.S. education model is exported abroad. Experts outlined the ways in which U.S. university leadership can work to ensure that U.S. universities can continue to adapt and thrive as their contexts change.

Funding: Ford Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 79, Number 4 (Winter 2012). Preorder the issue online.


 

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Keynote: Olivier De Schutter, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food; Visiting Professor, Columbia University (2011-2012). Video of the keynote is available on the CPS YouTube page.

25th Conference

Human Rights and the Global Economy
November 9-10, 2011

Experts and scholars explored human rights as a mediating language for discussions of social justice and the global economy. The Center for Public Scholarship collaborated with the graduate program in International Affairs at The New School for Public Engagement, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the program.

Funding: Climate Change Narratives, Rights and the Poor project at the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) in Bergen, Norway, and Milano School for International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at the New School for Public Engagement

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 79, Number 3 (Fall 2012). Pre-order the issue online.


 

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Keynote: Amitav Ghosh, anthropologist and novelist; author of The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, and Sea of Poppies, and other books. (Audio will be posted in summer 2012, at the author's request.)

24th Conference

India's World
May 10-11, 2011

Experts discussed key issues of contemporary Indian life—government, economy, policy, and culture. This public conference aimed to engage both speakers and the audience in conversation about the ways in which India is influenced by the world—and the world by India. The Center for Public Scholarship in collaboration with the India China Institute.

Funding: The Ford Foundation

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 78, Number 1 (Spring 2011). Videos of the three sessions from May 11 are available online at the CPS YouTube page.

 

 

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Keynote: Didier Fassin,
James D. Wolfensohn Professor School of Social Science at the Institute of Advanced Study. Watch the keynote on the CPS YouTube page.

23rd Conference

Body and State: How the State Controls and Protects the Body
February 10-12, 2011

Speakers discussed the body as a human rights arena in which many forces—religion, science, media, and the market—struggle for control over policies that control our bodies. We aimed to illuminate how the often tacit assumptions about the "normal," "healthy," and "acceptable" body lead to policies which are, at their core, unjust.

Funding: The Ford Foundation and the Arcus Foundation

Proceedings are available in Social Research Volume 78, Nos. 2 and 3. Videos of all sessions are available on the CPS YouTube page.

 

 

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Keynote: Tegegnework Gettu,
head of the UNDP Africa Bureau

22nd Conference

From Impunity to Accountability: Africa's Development in the 21st Century
November 18-19, 2010

Distinguished experts discussed the challenges of development that face African countries as they work to combat poverty, improve the protection of human rights, increase government accountability, strengthen electoral systems, and manage foreign aid.

Funding: The Ford Foundation, The New School graduate program in International Affairs and Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy, and the Global Studies program at The New School

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 77, Number 4 (Winter 2010). Videos of the three sessions on November 19 are available online at the CPS YouTube page.

 

 

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Keynote: Seymour Hersh,
Professor Emeritus, Political Science and Philosophy, McGill University

21st Conference

Limiting Knowledge in a Democracy
February 24-25 and May 27, 2010

Conference presenters critically examined the ways in which government and other institutions in the United States restrict, facilitate, and otherwise determine the flow of information in our society. The conference explored the kinds of limits on information that safeguard democracy and the kinds that erode it.

Funding: Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Russell Sage Foundation

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 77, Number 3 (Fall 2010). Audio of the complete conference and Q&A is available (in MP3 files).

 

 
Religious-Secular Divide cover

Keynote: Charles Taylor,
Professor Emeritus, Political Science and Philosophy, McGill University [Webcast]

20th Conference

The Religious-Secular Divide: The U.S. Case
March 5-6, 2009

The conference explored the tension between religion and secularism in the United States, which is long-standing, widespread, and increasingly intense. These issues were addressed from the perspectives of religious studies, legal studies, political science, sociology, and philosophy.

Funding: Russell Sage Foundation, John Templeton Foundation and Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 76, Number 4 (Winter 2009).

 

 
IMG - SRJ - Free Inquiry at Risk  

Special Event: Panel of Endangered Scholars

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19th Conference

Free Inquiry at Risk: Universities in Dangerous Times, Part II
February 19-20, 2009

A second Free Inquiry conference was held at the American Academy in Berlin. An honorary degree was presented to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Funding: Carnegie Corporation of New York and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 76, Number 3 (Fall 2009).

18th Conference

Free Inquiry at Risk: Universities in Dangerous Times
October 29-31, 2008

Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the University in Exile, this conference examined the role of free inquiry and academic freedom in higher education institutions around the world and addressed the maintenance and protection of these core values.

The University in Exile was established in 1933 by Alvin Johnson, the first president of The New School, as a haven for scholars fleeing Nazi persecution in Germany. The University in Exile became the Graduate Faculty of The New School for Social Research, which gave birth to our journal, Social Research.

Funding: Carnegie Corporation of New York, Ford Foundation and Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 76, Number 2 (Summer 2009).


 
Disasters: Recipes and Remedies

Keynote:Nicholas Scoppetta, FDNY Commissioner [Webcast]

17th Conference

Disasters: Recipes and Remedies
November 1-2, 2007

This conference explored the commonalities of all disasters. The participants examined the unequal protection and treatment of populations made vulnerable by their location and or socioeconomic status; the impact of disasters on the economy and overall human development; how hazards develop into disasters; and how design factors either mitigate or amplify their effects.

Funding: The New School for Social Research

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 75, Number 3 (Fall 2008). Audio of the complete conference and Q&A is available (in MP3 files).


 
Punishment: The U.S. Record

Special Event:
Richard Gere
and
Carey Lowell
read literature written by prison inmates
[Webcast]

16th Conference

Punishment: The U.S. Record
November 30-December 1, 2006

This conference examined the foundations of our ideas of punishment, explored the social effects of current practices in the United States, and searched for viable alternatives. The conference was organized in response to the staggering increase in the number of people incarcerated in the United States since the 1970s (the United States now has the per capita highest incarceration rate in the world) and the fact that the United States, unlike most other democracies, continues to mandate capital punishment.

Funding: Ford Foundation, The JM Kaplan Fund, Open Society Institute, and Russell Sage Foundation

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 74, Number 2 (Summer 2007). Audio of the complete conference and Q&A is available (in MP3 files).


 
Politics and Science: How Their Interplay Results in Public Policy

Keynote:
Neal Lane, Science Advisor to President Clinton, former director of the National Science Foundation

15th Conference

Politics and Science: How Their Interplay Results in Public Policy
February 9-10, 2006

The increasing politicization of science can lead to policy decisions that run counter to accepted scientific consensus and risk endangering public health and well-being. Scientists and policymakers throughout the political spectrum assessed the current tension between politics and science and discussed ways to ensure that the best science becomes the basis for public policy. There was a special presentation on global warming by James E. Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Funding: The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 73, Number 3 (Fall 2006). Audio of the complete conference and Q&A is available (in MP3 files).


 
Fairness: Its Role in Our Lives

Keynote:
John Edwards,
2004 vice presidential candidate, former U.S. Senator from North Carolina

14th Conference

Fairness: Its Role in Our Lives
April 14-15, 2005

Principles of equality and justice and social change all have their roots in our perceptions of fairness. What drives these perceptions? At this Social Research conference, experts examined issues of fairness as expressed in current events and through history.

Funding: Russell Sage Foundation

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 73, Number 2 (Summer 2006). Audio of the complete conference and Q&A is available (in MP3 files).


 
Their America: The United States in the Eyes of the Rest of the World

Keynote:
George Mitchell,
former U.S. Senator from Maine

13th Conference

Their America: The United States in the Eyes of the Rest of the World
October 18-19, 2004

Since 9/11, there has been a sharp increase in anti-American feelings worldwide. At the same time, there continues to be, in many places around the globe, a dynamic tension between responses to the United States' aggressive military interventions and, for lack of a better shorthand term, what American culture has to offer. Given the increasing tendency of the United States to act unilaterally on the world stage, it is crucial to understand how the rest of the world views us and our actions so that we may comprehend why our actions succeed or fail and how best to formulate future plans. Our intention at this conference was to foster discussion among speakers from around the world and the audience about how the United States is and has been viewed in various countries over the last 75 years. Speakers came from the Balkans, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, Pakistan, Palestine, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

Funding: Carnegie Corporation of New York, Ford Foundation and an anonymous donor

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 72, Number 4 (Winter 2005). Audio of the complete conference and Q&A is available (in MP3 files).


 
Fear: Its Political Uses and Abuses

Keynote:
Al Gore, former U.S. Vice President, former U.S. Senator from Tennessee:
The Politics of Fear After 9/11: Can the Past Inform the Future?

12th Conference

Fear: Its Political Uses and Abuses
February 5-7, 2004

Since September 11, 2001, fear has been woven into the fabric of daily life in the United States. Our vulnerability, the fear it engendered, and the fight against terrorism have become the justification for much that our government has done since 9/11 in the name of protecting us--including two wars and the slashing away of certain constitutional protections. The commercial media thrive on this fear and even exacerbate it. This conference placed the heightened state of collective fear in cultural and historical perspective, examining the psychological roots of fear and its manipulation by those who hold or seek power. Speakers explored the complexities and consequences from a variety of perspectives. Papers by Joe Ledoux, Steve Heller, John Hollander, Corey Robin, Cass Sunstein, Aryeh Neier, Andrew Arato, Eric Alterman, Jacek Debeic, Barry Glassner, Stanley Hoffnan, Leonie Huddy, E. Valentine Daniel, George Kateb, Kenneth Prewitt, Tom Pyszczynski, and Aristide Zolberg were presented.

Funding: Russell Sage Foundation  

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 71, Number 4 (Winter 2004). Audio of the complete conference and Q&A is available (in MP3 files).


 
Privacy in Islam: The Public and Private Spheres, Part III

Keynote:
Mohsen Kadivar,
Iranian dissident theologian,
Professor, Tarbiat Modares University

11th Conference

Privacy in Islam: The Public and Private Spheres, Part III
December 5-7, 2003

This conference brought together 22 speakers over three days to explore the spectrum of Islamic societies worldwide and those societies' varying understandings of the boundary between private and public. The boundary between public and private is a contested issue in any society, no less in the Islamic world than in the West. Now more than ever, it is critical that we move beyond stereotypes toward a more nuanced understanding of Islam. The conference took a familiar issue--privacy--to illuminate how Islamic societies resemble and differ from one another as well as from our own. Speakers included Roy Mottahedeh, Mehrangiz Kar, Orhan Pamuk, Nilufer Gole, Baber Johansen, Azar Nafisi, and others.

Funding: Open Society Institute, The Rockefeller Foundation, and an anonymous donor

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 70, Number 3 (Fall 2003). Audio of the complete conference and Q&A is available (in MP3 files).


 
International Justice, War Crimes and Terrorism: The U.S. Record

Keynote:
Bob Kerrey,
President, The New School
Former U.S. Senator for Nebraska

10th Conference

International Justice, War Crimes and Terrorism: The U.S. Record
April 25-27, 2002

Dedicated to advancing the possibility of global justice and the protection of human rights, this conference addressed events in New York, Vietnam, Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo, and other locations, discussing how the national and international community, including the United States, responded to the devastating events in their own and other countries, through legal, political, military, and other means. It examined the U.S. response to war crimes and acts of terrorism, the training of its military, and its role in the evolution of new forms of international criminal jurisdiction. Speakers included Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Justice Richard Goldstone, Justice Patricia Wald, Justice Theodor Meron, Michael Ignatieff, Michael Walzer, and many distinguished others.

Funding: Open Society Institute, Russell Sage Foundation and anonymous donors

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 69, Number 4 (Winter 2002). Audio of the complete conference and Q&A is available (in MP3 files).


 
Privacy in Post Communist Europe, Part II

Keynote:
Marc Rotenberg,
director, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Washington D.C.

9th Conference

Privacy in Post-Communist Europe, Part II
March 23-34, 2001, at Central European University

Eastern Europe has emerged from a recent communist past where everything was officially "public," privacy was unprotected, and the public sphere was etatized. The problematic public/private dichotomy of postmodern societies is particularly complicated under conditions of post-communism. Distortions of the public sphere (lack of transparency, skewed or monopolized public discourse, etc.) are aggravated by attempts to penetrate privacy in the name of public community values (e.g., in the case of abortion). Transparency is denied in the name of privacy ("personal rights" of former secret police informants prevail in some countries over public interest and the rights of victims). Furthermore, many East European societies lacked a pre-communist historical tradition of privacy, and these issues are not being systematically discussed in Eastern Europe.

This Social Research conference helped to clarify crucial policy issues such as civic education toward the development of a more responsive citizenry; data protection and access to information; the limits and responsibilities of journalism; and reproductive policies. More broadly, the conference offered a valuable point of reference and helped to put the East European issues into a global context in terms of both prevailing cultural influences and intellectual discourse.

Funding: Open Society Institute, The Rockefeller Foundation, and Russell Sage Foundation

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 69, Number 1 (Spring 2002).


 
Altered States of Consciousness

Keynote:
Jonathan Miller MD,
physician and author

8th Conference

Altered States of Consciousness
February 22-24, 2001

Drugs, meditation, hypnosis, ecstasy, dreaming, hallucination, mass hysteria: There are countless ways of achieving altered states of consciousness. What distinguishes those that are valued from those that are deemed dangerous and consequently feared? How have rules and attitudes toward mind-altering activities changed through history and across cultures? This conference attempted to place the current debate about mind-altering substances and the "war on drugs" in their proper historical and cultural frameworks. We examined religious, psychiatric, recreational, and inspirational practices of altering consciousness, looking back at the historical roots of our current views and policies and forward to more rational, less harmful, solutions to what some perceive as a national epidemic.

Funding: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Russell Sage Foundation

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 68, Number 3 (Fall 2001).


 
Privacy in US and Europe

Keynote:
Charles Nesson,
Professor of Law, Harvard University; Director, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society

7th Conference

Privacy in the U.S. and Europe, Part I
October 5-7, 2000

The distinction between what is public and what is private is more and more blurred with the increasing intrusiveness of the media and advances in electronic technology. While this distinction is always the outcome of cultural negotiation, it remaines critical, for where nothing is private, democracy becomes impossible. How much of what is currently considered private are we willing to make public in the name of openness and convenience? This conference looked backward at the historical foundations of privacy and forward to what the future may have in store.

Funding: Carnegie Corporation of New York, Ford Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 68, Number 1 (Spring 2001).


 
Food: Nature and Culture

Keynote:
Ismail Serageldin,
Vice President, Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development, The World Bank

6th Conference

Food: Nature and Culture
November 5-7, 1998

What we eat, how we provision ourselves, the ceremonies and observances with which we surround food and eating, the power and joy of plenty and the fear and misery of famine and deprivation are occasions for reflection about the human condition. So, to understand food is to understand ourselves. Why is the production and distribution of food so starkly misaligned with its consumption? What roles do power, science, and ideology play in this heart-rending dilemma? What is the role of historically determined cultural food preferences? Most important, what can science and technology and economic and political initiatives do to address the tragic occurrences of hunger and famine in a world of plenty?

Funding: Continental Grain Foundation, Earth Pledge Foundation, Ford Foundation, Organic Commodity Project and The Rockefeller Foundation

Proceedings are published in Social Research  Volume 66, Number 1 (Spring 1999).


 
Technology and the Rest of Culture

Keynote:
Arno Penzias,
Nobel Laureate, Vice President, Chief Scientist, Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies

5th Conference

Technology and the Rest of Culture
January 16-18, 1997

This conference was devoted to the thesis that technology is not separate and apart from the rest of our culture nor possessing a life of its own. And as long as we fail to acknowledge this fact, we endow technologies with agency and autonomy that have profound, often unintended, moral and political consequences.

Funding: The Engineering Foundation, The Howard Gilman Foundation, Interval Research Corporation and The Rockefeller Foundation

Proceedings are published in Social Research  Volume 64, Number 3 (Fall 1997).


 
In the Company of Animals

Keynote:
Stephen Jay Gould,
Professor of Zoology, Harvard University

4th Conference

In the Company of Animals
April 6-8, 1995

Animals have been hunted and domesticated, befriended and eaten, worshiped and feared, romanticized and demonized, studied and mythologized. Reflections on our relationships with animals have been continuous in human history and are expressed in tradition, art, literature, religion, and science. How have our relationships with animals evolved over time and place, and how do they reflect different understandings of what it means to be human? The delineation of human-animal relationships occurs in all cultures, and in all cultures, this boundary is a matter of great significance.

Funding: Caroline Williams, The Howard Gilman Foundation, The Esther A. & and Joseph Klingenstein Fund, Inc. and National Endowment for the Humanities

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 62,  Number 3 (Fall 1995).


 
Rescue: The Paradoxes of Virtue

3rd Conference

Rescue: The Paradoxes of Virtue
November 17-18, 1994

Confronted with the suffering of others, whether caused by natural disaster or intentionally harmful human acts, our moral obligation seems self-evident. We must make an effort to rescue the imperiled. Today, however, feelings of compassion and stirrings of conscience are simply not enough; the actions of a single individual whose conscience is stirred are unlikely to make a difference. Rather, large-scale humanitarian assistance programs and military interventions are called for. Furthermore, if voices are heard and large-scale actions are undertaken, those who express moral outrage are the least likely to risk their lives by intervening. So intervening becomes difficult and no longer simply a matter of moral imperatives but political responses as well. Who has the responsibility to intervene and the power to do so effectively? What are the limits of this responsibility? Who enforces it? The closer one looks, the harder these questions become to answer, which may explain why so little is done and so many continue to suffer at the hands of others.

Funding: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, German Information Center and The Rockefeller Foundation

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 62,  Number 1 (Spring 1995).


 
Home: A Place in the World

Keynote:
Eric Hobsbawm
,
Emeritus University Professor of Politics and Society, Cambridge University

2nd Conference

Home: A Place in the World
October 25-27, 1990

We live in a time when the idea of home has become problematic. We are confronted daily with painful images and stories about the growing numbers of homeless people, about criminal violence toward children, and about the plights of those exiled from their homelands. All of this coexists with the persistent images of home as a place of comfort, safety, and refuge.

This conference was a central part of the Home Project at The New School in 1990, a project designed to explore the ideology of home, its meaning as a central human idea, and the crises engendered by its loss suffered in alienation.

Funding: Ford Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities and The Rockefeller Foundation

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 58,  Number 1 (Spring 1991).


 
In Time of Plague

1st Conference

In Time of Plague: The History and Social Consequences of Lethal Epidemic Disease
January 15-16, 1988

The conference was organized with the expectation that an open discussion among scientists and scholars might help to place the current alarming outbreak of AIDS in perspective by considering it in the context of the social history of past lethal epidemics. We thought that focusing attention on the many ways in which diseases, particularly catastrophic infectious and contagious diseases, are and have been both biologically and socially defined might help lead the way to a calmer and more effective public response to the problem.

Funding: The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 55, Number 3 (Fall 1988).

 
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