Yale Bulletin and Calendar

December 15, 2000Volume 29, Number 14













Yale experts to explore 'Democratic
Vistas' in DeVane Lecture series

Democratic principles and practices -- subjects that have gripped the nation since the recent U.S. presidential election -- will be explored in the annual William Clyde DeVane Lectures being presented next semester as one of the highlights of the University's 300th birthday celebration.

Titled "Democratic Vistas," the Tercentennial DeVane Lectures will examine the heritage, present condition and prospects of America's ever-evolving "democratic experiment."

Fifteen prominent Yale faculty members from a range of disciplines will explore in weekly lectures such topics as the character of democratic citizenship, the implications of science and technology, the impact of democracy on education and the market, the compatibility of democratic practices with the claims of religion and family, and the barriers to achieving greater equality among citizens.

Each of the lectures, which are free and open to the public, will be followed by a discussion about that week's lecture topic. Among the lecturers are President Richard C. Levin and Yale College Dean Richard H. Brodhead.

The Tercentennial DeVane Lectures actually comprise a for-credit course on "Democratic Vistas" for Yale College students, who have the option of participating in separate weekly discussions led by Yale law students in addition to those offered to the public.

"These lectures are a great opportunity for members of the public to sit in on a class at Yale," says Janet Lindner, Yale's Tercentennial director. "The timely subject of American democracy, and the breadth of featured topics that incorporate that theme, make this series an ideal public offering as part of our Tercentennial celebration. We encourage our New Haven neighbors, as well as members of our wider community, to come to campus for the talks and engage in the stimulating discussions about a topic that impacts all of us."

Law School Dean Anthony Kronman, organizer of the series, notes that Yale's 300-year history "is interwoven with that of American democracy in countless ways."

"In one sense, Yale belongs to the world and to the ages," he says. "But in another sense, Yale is a distinctively American university whose past cannot be understood, or future surmised, apart from the unfolding drama of America itself."

Kronman, who will deliver the first lecture on "The Democratic Soul" on Jan. 9, says the topic for the DeVane Lectures was decided long before the "spectacle" of the presidential election, but that the questions raised by the divisive election serve as "a delicious backdrop" for the lectures.

"The election has resulted in a national seminar on the meaning of democracy itself," the Law School Dean notes. "While the whole world watches, we have been debating as a nation such questions as 'What does it mean to respect the will of the people?' and 'Which institutions are to decide what the will of the people is -- the courts, the legislature, the politicians running for office or the people themselves?' For the Devane Lectures, 15 of us will come together from different disciplines and every corner of the campus to continue discussion of these and other issues, and their meaning for all of us."

All of the lectures will be held on Tuesdays at 4 p.m. in Battell Chapel, Elm & College streets. Discussion will take place each Thursday at the same time.

The titles and dates of the other lectures in the series follow.

Jan. 16 -- "Lincoln and Whitman as Representative Americans" David Bromwich, the Bird White Housum Professor of English;

Jan. 23 -- "The Paradoxes of Mind and Society: The Bounded Nature of Cognition and the Unbounded Possibilities for American Democracy" by Mahzarin Banaji, professor of psychology;

Jan. 30 -- "Is the Revolution Over?" by Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science;

Feb. 6 -- "Democracy and the Market" by President Richard C. Levin;

Feb. 13 -- "Neither Capitalist nor American: The Democracy as Social Movement" by Michael Denning, professor of English and American studies;

Feb. 20 -- "Democracy and Distribution" by Ian Shapiro, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Political Science;

Feb. 27 -- "Democracy and Science" by Joan Steitz, Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry;

March 20 -- "Democracy and Technology" by David Gelernter, professor of computer science;

March 27 -- "Democracy and Education" by Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead;

April 3 -- "Democracy and Family" by Nancy Cott, the Stanley Woodward Professor of History and American Studies;

April 10 -- "Can Religion Tolerate Democracy (and Vice Versa)?" by Stephen Carter, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law;

April 17 -- "Democracy and Foreign Policy" by John Gaddis, the Robert A. Lovett Professor of History;

April 24 -- "Meritocracy and Democracy" by James Scott, the Eugene Meyer Professor of Science and professor of anthropology; and

May 1 -- "Pictures for the People" by Richard Benson, dean of the School of Art.

Each lecture in "Democratic Vistas" will be posted on the Internet at www.yale.edu/democracy a couple of days after it is delivered. The website will also provide information about the full range of activities associated with the course.

The University also hopes to have the entire series of lectures televised locally.

Cynthia Farrar, director of Urban Academic Initiatives, is leading efforts by the University's Office of New Haven and State Affairs to organize and publicize the DeVane Lectures and supplementary events so as to engage the interest and participation of the broader New Haven community. Farrar will also lead aweekly discussion section in connection with "Democratic Vistas."

School teachers can receive Continuing Education Units for their participation in "Democratic Vistas," and local high school students may inquire at their schools about the possibility of enrolling in the course for credit. The Tercentennial DeVane Lectures will be supplemented by a number of other public forums and presentations about the implications of democratic ideas and practices. Sponsored by other University departments and programs, these contribute to the general theme of the DeVane Lectures and encourage ongoing discussion. Among these events are a lectures series sponsored by the Intedisciplinary Bioethics Project on the political and ethical implications of science and technology; a symposium offered by the Whitney Humanities Center on "Enlightenment and Inequality in the Social Sciences and History"; an examination of voluntarism in a session sponsored by the Yale Club and Dwight Hall; and an examination of inequities in health care in an event sponsored by the Journal of Health Policy, Law and Ethics that will feature U.S. Surgeon General Davied Satcher; and an exploration of the media and democracy Other events include a discussion of the reinvention of the melting pot by national experts on immigration and a local panel; a talk featuring Robert Putnam, author of "Bowling Alone": a conference on "Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health"; a symposium on "Enlightenment and Inequality in the Social Sciences and History"; and an exploration of the changing role of the media and implications for democracy, among others.

In addition, the International Festival of arts and Ideas, held in New Haven in June, plans to extend the conversation on American democracy in discussions on local governance and an exploration of the role of arts and culture in democratic life, among other topics.

These and other events associated with "Democratic Vistas" will appear in future issues of the Yale Bulletin & Calendar.


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