2019-20 Annual Report for the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life

Peter Rutland
Director, Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life
15 May 2020

The Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life (CSPL) provides a forum for the Wesleyan community to engage with current issues of local, national and global concern. The goal is to bring academic research and study into dialog with practical public policy challenges. It does this through offering courses that supplement the regular Wesleyan curriculum, a series of public talks by outside speakers, and other events. The Center also serves as a hub for the coordination

In 2019-20 the Allbritton Center brought in 16 outside speakers, and helped fund a dozen other events organized by other programs on campus.

In fall 2019 the Center created a public speaker series around the theme of human rights, to reinforce the launching of Jim Cavallaro’s University Network for Human Rights, housed at Wesleyan. The speakers, a mixture of academics and practitioners, attracted audiences of students and faculty across a broad range of disciplines and geographic areas. A full-credit course taught by Cavallaro and CSPL director Peter Rutland was tied to the visiting speaker series.

Thanks to the generosity of the Nazarian Family Foundation, CSPL had two visiting speakers in Armenian studies – Chris Sheklian (Oct 8) and Jennifer Dixon (Mar 3). Dr Sheklian also taught a course at the center in spring 2020.

Thanks to the Tucker Andersen grant, CSPL hosted two visitors giving public talks on classical liberalism – Kai Weiss (Feb 13) and Helena Rosenblatt (Feb 18).

On February 8 CSPL ran a one-day Workshop on Human Rights and Comparative Political Theory, which examined debates around human rights through the prism of different traditions of political philosophy beyond the Western canon. In addition to a dozen Wesleyan faculty, and students, the workshop, jointly organized with Prof. Steve Angle, involved 12 outside scholars: Diego Von Vacano (Texas A&M), Adam Dahl (UMass-Amherst), Sandipto Dasgupta, (New School), Turkuler Isiksel (Columbia), Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins (Dartmouth), Kazuko Suzuki (Texas A&M), Joseph Chan (Princeton), Justin Tiwald (Princeton), Anjelica Bernal (UMass Amherst), Jane Gordon (UConn) and Stephanie Pridgeon (Bates).