Introducing the Center for Public Scholarship, Part 1: Social Research Conference Series
Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
The CPS seeks to promote academic freedom and public discussion around urgent political and social issues in all of its programs and initiatives. It is intended to serve a catalyst for new kinds of programs, drawing on the humanities, the social sciences, design, and public policy as sources for ideas and collaborative projects. The Center also includes three existing programs that address our mission in distinctly different and complimentary ways. I will describe one of them here, and in future posts will introduce the others.
Since 1934, the New School for Social Research has published Social Research: An International Quarterly, which addresses a wide range of social and political issues from a variety of perspectives. The Social Research conference series aims to enhance public understanding and influence ongoing debates about issues central to contemporary political and cultural discourse. Speakers at these conferences, including historians, social scientists, natural scientists, and art historians, participate alongside legal theorists, policy makers, and journalists, and every session includes vibrant Q&A with the audience. Recent conference speakers have included Daniel Ellsberg, Jameel Jaffer, Samantha Power, Cass Sunstein, Marion Nestle, and Joan Scott. Our keynote speakers have included Al Gore, Charles Taylor, and Jonathan Miller. All of our conferences are subsequently published as special issues of Social Research.
The first of our Spring 2011 conferences, “The Body and the State: How the State Controls and Protects the Body”, will take place February 10, 11, and 12, in Tishman Auditorium. This conference takes the body as a human rights policy arena, where such forces as religion, science, media, and the market struggle for control. We hope to illuminate how the often tacit assumptions about the "normal," "healthy," and "acceptable" body lead to policies that are unjust. I thought it important to host several critical conversations about how different countries and cultures handle issues around reproductive rights, public health, gender, sexuality, pharmaceuticals, and even death. If you are interested in art, you might want to attend
The second conference, “India's World”, will take place May 10-11 in Tishman Auditorium. Our decision to devote a conference to India seemed long overdue, given that India is home to more than 20 percent of the world's population, is a functioning multicultural democracy, an assertive global player in economics and politics, a nuclear power, and link between Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, and Sri Lanka. We also certainly thought it time to have a conference that would address issues more deeply than the popular cliches of Flat, Hot, and Crowded. The conference will begin on Tuesday with a keynote lecture by the well known writer Ghosh Amitav. Wednesday’s sessions bring together expert speakers, many coming from India, who will connect the dots between government, economy, policy, and culture in contemporary India. In creating this conference, we are working together with our former Provost, Arjun Appadurai, a world-renowned Indian anthropologist.
[Bio of author]
Arien Mack is Alfred and Monette Marrow Professor of Psychology at the New School for Social Research. She is the editor of Social Research: An International Quarterly, the flagship journal of the NSSR and the founding director of the Center for Public Scholarship and its Journal Donation Project, Endangered Scholars Worldwide initiative, and Social Research conference series.
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