Past Conferences and Events

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. We also host a Public Voices series, which provides a platform for distinguished public figures to address the most pressing issues of the day.

Summary of Previous Conferences and Events

radiation
Video is available at the CPS YouTube page. (Livestream link)
6th Public Voices lecture

Confronting Climate Change:
Insights from the Nuclear Disarmament Movement
December 4, 2014

This conversation will focus on how to generate the political and social change necessary to confront climate change.
Robert Jay Lifton, author of many books, including, most recently, Witness to an Extreme Century (a memoir) and currently working on a book comparing nuclear and climate threats (see his recent op-ed in the New York Times, "The Climate Swerve")
Naomi Oreskes, Professor of the History of Science, Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University; author of many books, most recently The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future with Eric Conway (Columbia University Press, 2014)
Moderator: Tom Engelhardt, editor, writer, and author; creator of TomDispatch.com, a project of the Nation Institute, at which he is a fellow

Funder: V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation

 
Climate
Videos of all five sessions are available at the CPS YouTube page.

31st Conference 
Climate Change Demands We Change. Why Aren't We?
April 24-25, 2014

There is no issue more urgent than climate change, yet government, corporations, and the public are reluctant to change. This conference examined the psychological factors, money and politics, and infrastructures that impede change as well as the difficult choices that must be made to foster urban resilience in the face of climate change. Frances Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council, delivered the keynote address. 

Funder: V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation
Papers will be published in a special issue of Social Research (Fall 2015).


 
 HumanitiesSM
Full video of the event is available on the CPS YouTube page.

Speaking for the Humanities
February 20, 2014

On the occasion of the publication of Humanities and Public Life by Fordham University Press, a panel of scholars discuss how to defend and even talk about the humanities without succumbing to the instrumentalist language of their detractors (measuring outcomes and deliverables) or retreating into the ivory tower by simply asserting that the humanities don't need justification. 

Panelists:
Judith Butler, Wun Tsun Tam Mellon Visiting Professor of the Humanities, Columbia University
William Germano, Dean of the Faculty, Humanities and Social Sciences, The Cooper Union 
Richard Sennett, Centennial Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics; University Professor of the Humanities, New York University 
Patricia J. Williams, James L. Dohr Professor of Law, Columbia Law School 
Moderator: Peter Brooks, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholar, Professor, University Center for Human Values, Department of Comparative Literature, Princeton University 


 

 UIE combo

80th Anniversary of the University in Exile 
January 30, 2014

The University in Exile was created by The New School’s first President, Alvin Johnson, as a haven for scholars whose lives and careers were threatened in Germany in 1933, when the Nazi Party came to power and acted to expel all Jews and political opponents from German universities. More than 180 intellectuals and scholars were rescued with their families. Some remained at The New School for many years. All of them immeasurably enriched the intellectual life of the United States. This commemoration of these events is also intended to call attention to the urgent need today to protect scholars around the world who are being persecuted and silenced. 

Events:

Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, discussed “Protecting Scholars and the Right to Free Inquiry.” (Watch the video or read the transcript

Panel discussion, in response to Ambassador Power's talk with Jonathan Fanton, Interim Director of Roosevelt House at Hunter College, former Chair of Human Rights Watch, and former President of The New School, and George Rupp, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, former President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee. Moderated by Aryeh Neier, President Emeritus of the Open Society Foundations. (Video)

Hannah Arendt (2013) was screened, followed by discussion with film director Margarethe von Trotta, actress Barbara Sukowa, and co-screenwriter Pamela Katz. Moderated by Jerome Kohn, director of the Hannah Arendt Center at The New School for Social Research. (Video)


 

 Surveillance2

Surveillance
December 5, 2013

Experts discussed the surveillance operations being carried out by the U.S. government on American citizens.

Panelists: James Bamford, journalist noted for writing about the U.S. intelligence agencies
Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director and director of the ACLU's Center for Democracy
Rachel Levinson-Waldman, counsel, Liberty and National Security Program, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School
Moderator: Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch

A video of the event is available on the CPS You Tube page.


 

 

804-Corruption-125x193

30th conference
Corruption
November 21-22, 2013

Signs of corruption and the damage it causes are painfully evident in political and corporate life everywhere. At this public conference, policymakers, historians, lawyers, and scholars discussed the many systems undermined by corruption and the transparency and accountability protocols that could serve to reduce corruption, if not eliminate it. 

The keynote address was delivered by Peter Eigen, Founder and Chair of Transparency International and Honorary Professor of Political Science at the Freie Universität in Berlin. (Video.)

Conference speakers included James Jacobs, Michael Johnston, Sheila Krumholz, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Susan Rose-Ackerman, Bo Rothstein, Alan Ryan, Debra Satz, and Richard White.

Funders: The Ford Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation

Papers are published in a special issue of Social Research (Volume 80, Number 4 (Winter 2013).

Videos of all four sessions are available on the CPS You Tube playlist (the keynote, Session 2, Session 3, and Session 4).


 

 ICHRIranSAR

Panel discussion co-sponsored by Amnesty International with additional support from the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and Scholars at Risk

IRAN: Silenced, Expelled, and Imprisoned
November 13, 2013

Panelists: Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, Institute for Women's Leadership, Scholar Rescue Fund Fellow, Rutgers University 
Mehdi Arabshahi, exiled Iranian student activist; pursuing his MA at the University of Albany  
Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director, International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran 
Hadi Kahalzadeh, Visiting Scholar, Political Science, Valdosta State University; former economist for Iran's Social Security Organization
Moderator:
Gissou Nia, Executive Director, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

A video of the event is available on the CPS You Tube playlist.


 

 

Panel discussion co-sponsored by the Institute of International Education's (IIE) Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF)
Syrian Higher Education in Crisis: The Road Forward
October 7, 2013

After more than two years of war and civil unrest, Syria's higher education sector is facing a severe crisis, with educational and research facilities decimated, intellectual production and scientific research put on hold, and thousands of students' education interrupted indefinitely. In this panel, experts on Syria, higher education, and humanitarian intervention examined the current state of higher education in Syria and among Syrian refugees, and explored what programmatic interventions the international higher education sector and donor communities might pursue urgently to support Syrian academics and students.  

Panelists: Amal Alachkar, IIE-SRF Fellow from Syria; Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology, University of California, Irvine
Moaath Al-Rajab, IIE-SRF Fellow from Syria; University in Exile Scholar at Parsons The New School for Design
Keith Watenpaugh, Associate Professor and Director, Human Rights Initiative, University of California, Davis
Moderator: Allan Goodman, President and CEO, Institute of International Education
Introductions: Mark Angelson, Chairman, Institute of International Education's Scholar Rescue Fund, and David Van Zandt, President, The New School

A video of the event is available on the CPS You Tube playlist.


 

Barney Frank
Barney Frank

4th Public Voices Lecture: Barney Frank 

Cutting Military Spending and Reducing the Federal Deficit in a Socially Responsible Way
June 4, 2013

Barney Frank recently retired from Congress after more than 30 years of service, where he chaired the House Financial Services Committee, co-sponsored the Dodd–Frank Act, and advocated for gay marriage and civil rights. Robert Pollin, discussion moderator, is Professor of Economics and Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Pollin is a co-author of a recent report exposing significant faults in the 2010 Harvard research justifying austerity policies. (A video of the event is available online.)


 

Food

Keynote: Dolores Huerta (United Farm Workers) with support from Saru Jayaraman (ROC-United) and Ellen Ernst Kossek (Purdue University)

812-food-immigrant-life-125x193

29th Conference
Food and Immigrant Life: The Role of Food in Forced Migration, Migrant Labor, and Re-creating Home
April 18 and 19, 2013

The conference placed issues of immigration and food service work in the context of a broader social justice agenda and explored the cultural role food plays in expressing cultural heritage.

The conference was made organized in collaboration with the Writing Program, India China Institute, Vera List Center for Art and Politics, Center for New York City Affairs, Global Studies Program, Gender Studies Program, and International Center for Migration, Ethnicity, and Citizenship (ICMEC) with additional support from the Ford Foundation.

Videos of the event are available online. Papers will be published in a special issue of Social Research, Volume 81, Number 2 (Summer 2014).


 

chen_guangcheng

The Future of the Rule of Law and Human Rights in China:
Chen Guangcheng in conversation with Jerome A. Cohen and Ira Belkin

February 6, 2013

This University in Exile event (fourth in the series) featured Chen Guangcheng, the activist lawyer recently permitted to leave China who is currently a visiting scholar at New York University School of Law; Jerome A. Cohen, Professor of Law and co-director of the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at New York University School of Law, who was active in securing Chen Guangcheng's release; and Ira Belkin, Executive Director of the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at NYU School of Law. 

A video of the event is available online.


 

802-Giving-125x193

28th Conference
Giving: Caring for the Needs of Strangers
December 6, 7 and 8, 2012

At this public conference, scholars, policy makers, and philanthropists examined the religious and philosophical grounds for giving, the psychology and evolution of altruism, the relationship between democracy and philanthropy, as well as the effectiveness of various philanthropic platforms, how social media and philanthrocapitalism are changing the field, and the future of global philanthropy.

Funders: The John Templeton Foundation and the Rockefeller Archives Center

The special issue will publish as Social Research, Volume 80, Number 2 (Summer 2013). Video is available on the CPS YouTube page.


 

IMG - egypt conf cover

Egypt After the Presidential Election
Social Research issue launch of Egypt in Transition
September 9, 2012

Experts discussed what is likely to occur in Egypt following the recent presidential election, under Mohamed Morsi's stewardship. What is next? What is the future role of the military, the media, the Islamic doctrine, the status of women?

Panelists: Hazem Fahmy (UNDESA), Mona El Ghobashy (Barnard College), Timothy Mitchell (Columbia University), Samer Shehata (Georgetown University), and Talal Asad (CUNY Graduate Center)

The special issue is Social Research Volume 79, Number 2 (Summer 2012). No video of this event is available.


 

SRJ-793-HigherEd-233x359

Social Research issue launch of The Future of Higher Education
December 3, 2012

A panel of university and college presidents discuss how tuition-dependent private institutions can respond effectively to the enormous economic challenges they are confronting without compromising the quality of the education they provide. Panelists were Stephen J. Friedman, President of Pace University; Robert Scott, President of Adelphi University; Debora Spar, President of Barnard College; and David Van Zandt, President of The New School, moderated.

Funders: Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Ford Foundation

The special issue is Social Research Volume 79, Number 3 (Fall 2012). Video is available online.


 
   

3rd Public Voices Lecture
Nicholas Eberstadt and William Galston Debate: Entitlements, a Critical Election Issue

October 18, 2012

William Galston, Senior Fellow of Governance at the Brookings Institution, and Nicholas Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute, debated the necessity of supporting entitlements, especially in times of austerity. This debate began on the pages of the Wall Street Journal. Moderated by David Van Zandt, President of The New School.

Video is available on the CPS YouTube page.


 

IMG - CPS - clown parade

Social Research issue launch 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.

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 79, Number 1 (Summer 2012). Watch the event video online on the CPS YouTube page.


 

IMG - CPS - Egypt issue
Keynote: Saad Eddin Ibrahim (Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies), Moderator: Talal Asad (CUNY Graduate Center)

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 currently under way, and the future of Egypt and the Middle East.

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


 

IMG - Robert Jay Lifton
Lifton

IMG - Steven Pinker
Pinker

2nd Public Voices Lecture:
Steven Pinker and Robert Jay Lifton

March 23, 2012

Steven Pinker and Robert Jay Lifton discussed whether we live in a more or less violent time. Pinker's most recent book is The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined and Lifton most recently authored Witness to an Extreme Century: A Memoir. This discussion follows from an exchange between Pinker and Lifton published in the New York Times, "Sunday Dialogue: Do We Live in a Less Deadly Time, or Not?" William Hirst, Professor of Psychology in The New School for Social Research, moderated. 

Video is available on the CPS YouTube page.


 

IMG - Russ Feingold

1st Public Voices Lecture: Russ Feingold
February 22, 2012

Russ Feingold, former U.S. Senator (D-Wisconsin) and one of the nation's leading liberal voices, discussed his new book, While America Sleeps: A Wake-up Call for the Post-9/11 Era. His presentation was followed by a discussion with New School President Emeritus Bob Kerrey, former U.S. Senator (D-Nebraska).

Video is available on the CPS YouTube page.


 

IMG - CPS - Higher Education
Keynote Panel: Jamshed Bharucha (Cooper Union), Matthew Goldstein (CUNY), Neil Grabois (The New School) and Robert Zimmer (University of Chicago). Moderator: David E. Van Zandt (The New School)

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 the Carnegie Corporation of New York

Proceedings are published in Social Research Volume 79, Number 4 (Winter 2012). Video of the keynote and all other sessions are available on the CPS YouTube page.


 

794Cover_125x193.jpg
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)


 

 

 Soc-Res-781-India-Thumb
 Keynote: Amitav Ghosh, anthropologist and novelist; author of The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, and Sea of Poppies, among others. (Audio will be posted soon 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.

 

 

IMG - CPS - Body and State

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.

 

 

IMG - CPS - Africa

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.

 

 

IMG - CPS - Limiting Knowledge

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).

 

 Kian Tajbakhsh
Dedicated to Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American scholar, sociologist, and urban planner, formerly a professor at the Milano School, who was arrested in Tehran following the 2009 presidential election and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The Politics of Resistance under Theocracy
February 12, 2010

This one-day conference explored the strategies of everyday resistance, in particular those of women and youth, in the face of systematic electoral fraud, a nondemocratic constitution, a ruler with virtually unrestricted power, and a constant crackdown on civil society. Focusing on Iran’s controversial June presidential elections, participants discussed what social movements require to succeed, the internal and external elements involved, and options for nonviolent resistance. 

The conference included three panel discussions: “Contentious Politics, from Revolution (1979) to ’Revolution’ (2009)”; “Everyday Life—Women, Youth, and Endangered Scholars”; and “Ethical Demands of the Green Movement,”  as well as a video about Kian Tajbakhsh.

Also screened was 
The Last Word, a single channel video/audio installation by Iranian artist Shirin Neshat   

 

IMG - CPS - Religious-Secular Divide

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

 

Soc-Res-762

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 policy-makers 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 has become the justification for so 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, 2002

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).


 

IMG - CPS - Privacy 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).


 

IMG - CPS - Privacy

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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