Past Programs

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Virtual program on YouTube live, 7 p.m.

Livestream Link

From McDonald’s to Google

Kelsey Hightower, Google

As a self taught engineer, Hightower honed his tech skills at the peak of the open source movement, which led to the democratization of software, and created pathways into tech for a new generation of aspiring computer professionals. In this session Hightower will explore his journey into tech and how he became one of the most respected people in cloud computing. Attendees will walk away from this session inspired by their own uniqueness and understand how to leverage technology to help shape the world they want to live in.

The program is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and cosponsored by the departments of mathematics and computer science, and biology, the Popel Shaw Center for Race & Ethnicity, the Inclusivity in STEM Planning Committee, and the Churchill Fund. This program is also part of the Clarke Forum’s Leadership in an Age of Uncertainty Series.

Topic overview by Rebecca Fox ’22

Biography

Kelsey Hightower is a principal engineer at Google working on Google’s Cloud Platform. He has helped develop and refine many Google Cloud Products including Google’s Kubernetes Engine, Cloud Functions, Read more

Monday, March 1, 2021

Virtual program on YouTube live, 7 p.m.

Livestream Link

Analyzing The 2020 Elections in Pennsylvania: A Panel Discussion

Jean Foschi – Cumberland County Board of Commissioners
Valerie Gaydos ’89 – 44th Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Matt Haverstick – Kleinbard LLC
Sarah Niebler (moderator) – Dickinson College

In October 2019 the Pennsylvania legislature passed Act 77 which allows for no-excuse mail-in voting. There was wide bipartisan support for this legislation which Governor Wolf signed into law on October 31. Some months later, however, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and President Trump began to repeatedly denigrate mail-in voting, claiming that it would lead to rampant fraud. In October 2020 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted a request by the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania to extend the deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots as long as they were postmarked by election day. That decision was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. In this program panelists will discuss the debate concerning mail-in voting and the many court challenges to the official results.

This event is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science.

Biographies

Jean Foschi is vice chairman and is the newest member Read more

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Virtual program on YouTube live, 12 – 1:30 p.m.
Livestream Link

Wesley Lecture

Black Queer Christian Lives Matter: Race, Religion, and Sexuality – an Intersectional Conversation

Rev. Dr. Jay Williams – Senior Pastor at Union Church in Boston

The Annual Wesley Lecture will feature the Rev. Dr. Jay Williams, Senior Pastor at Union Church in Boston. The Rev. Jay (as he is known) is a queer cisgender man and partner to Robert. Williams is known as a charismatic leader and will discuss the deep roots of liberation theology and the Christian church’s difficult and important history of racism and anti-LGBTQIA+ actions. A keynote will be followed by a Q & A session to discuss these important intersections.

This lecture is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and the Center for Spirituality and Social Justice and co-sponsored by the Office of LGBTQ Services, the Popel Shaw Center for Race & Ethnicity, and the Department of Religion.

Topic overview written by Rebecca Fox ’22

Biography

Rev. Dr. Jay Williams returned to Union Church in Boston as lead pastor on July 1, 2018, having guided this congregation September 2012 – June 2017. An ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, Jay Read more

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Virtual program on YouTube live, 7 p.m.

Livestream Link

The First Amendment and Epidemics

Eugene Volokh, UCLA School of Law

Under what circumstances can an epidemic justify the government restricting religious worship services?  What about restrictions on other First-Amendment-protected activities, such as protests or political party gatherings?  Volokh will discuss how the Free Exercise Clause, the Free Speech Clause, and the Assembly Clause bear on these questions. This discussion-led presentation will be moderated by Harry Pohlman, professor of political science.

This program is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the Center for Spirituality & Social Justice and the departments of political science and sociology.

Topic overview written by Scout Meredith Best ’21

Biography

Eugene Volokh has taught First Amendment law for 25 years at UCLA School of Law; he is the author of the textbooks The First Amendment and Related Statutes (7th ed. 2020) and Academic Legal Writing (5th ed. 2016), as well as over 80 legal journal articles. He is also the founder and coauthor of The Volokh Conspiracy, a Weblog (independent 2002-2014, hosted at the Washington Post 2014-2017, hosted at Reason from 2017).

H. L. Pohlman is the A. Lee Fritschler Professor Read more

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Virtual program on YouTube live, 7 p.m.

Livestream Link

@10queues and 10 Questions in Virology

Paul Duprex – Center for Vaccine Research, University of Pittsburgh

In early January 2020, a group of people in Wuhan, China who were suffering from pneumonia, were found to be infected with a novel coronavirus – what soon after would be termed SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19. By the end of 2020, the United States had approved two novel vaccines for use against this virus. Additional vaccines likely will be approved soon. The astonishing speed in developing effective vaccines was noted as the 2020 Breakthrough of the Year by Science magazine. During this conversation-led presentation with David Kushner, associate professor of biology, information about the vaccines, how they work, why it is important to be vaccinated, and whether or not we need to be concerned about new viral variants are among the topics that will be discussed.

This event is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the departments of mathematics & computer science, biology, the Program in Policy Studies, and the Health Studies Program. This program is also part of the Clarke Forum’s Leadership in an Age Read more

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Virtual program on YouTube live, 7 p.m.

Livestream Link

Air Pollution in Pennsylvania: Community Panel

Thomas Au –  Clean Air Board of Central PA
Germaine Gooden-Patterson – Women for a Healthy Environment
Naida Elena Montes – Temple University
Krishnan Ramamurthy – Pennsylvania DEP
Heather Bedi (moderator) – Dickinson College

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, air pollution levels in some parts of Pennsylvania are among the nation’s highest. The United Health Association ranks Pennsylvania’s air quality as 48th out of US states. In addition to other health implications, new research links increased levels of air pollution to higher COVID-19 death rates. To orient these concerns, this panel will include a review of key air pollution sources across Pennsylvania. Community members will reflect on localized air pollution considerations and potential opportunities for engagement.

This program is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the department of environmental studies and the Center for Civic Learning & Action.

Topic overview written by Bao Tran ’23

Biographies

Thomas Y. Au has practiced environmental law in the public interest for over 30 years.  He is currently president of the Clean Air Board of Central Pennsylvania, a citizens group of working Read more

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Virtual program on YouTube live, 7 p.m.

Program is Part of Love Your Body Week

Fatphobia as Misogynoir: Gender, Race and Weight Stigma

Sabrina Strings -University of California, Irvine

Strings will explore the rise and spread of fatphobia in the Western world and its relationship to race science. She will also consider how this dubious legacy has impacted the science behind the “obesity epidemic.”

The program is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the Women’s & Gender Resource Center. It is also part of Dickinson’s Love Your Body Week.

Topic overview by Bao Tran ’23

Biography
Sabrina Strings, Ph.D. is an associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine. She has been featured in dozens of venues, including BBC News, NPR, Huffington Post, Medium, Mashable, Los Angeles Times, Bitch Media, and goop. Her writing has appeared in diverse venues including, The New York Times, Scientific American, Ethnic and Racial Studies, and Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. Her book, Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia (2019), has been named an NYU Press Bestseller. It was awarded the 2020 Read more

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Virtual program on YouTube live, 7 p.m.

Livestream Link

Morgan Lecture

Bearing Witness While Black: African Americans, Smartphones, and the Fight to Preserve Our Democracy — One Video at a Time

Allissa Richardson, University of Southern California

Richardson will share how Black smartphone witnesses of the last five years launched the largest social justice movement in American history. In her new book, Bearing Witness While Black: African Americans, Smartphones and the New Protest Journalism, she explains why we cannot ignore the mobile testimonies of the afflicted — and what is at stake when we do.

The program is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and the Morgan Lecture Fund and cosponsored by the Center for Civic Learning & Action; the Popel Shaw Center for Race & Ethnicity; the Women’s & Gender Resource Center; and the departments of English; math and computer science; women’s, gender & sexuality studies; Middle East studies, American studies, history and sociology.  This program was initiated by the Clarke Forum’s student project managers.

Topic overview by Rebecca Fox ’22

Biography

Dr. Allissa V. Richardson is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School. She researches how African Americans use Read more

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Virtual program on YouTube live, 7 p.m.

Livestream Link

Combating American Racism In The Era of Trump: Towards a Pedagogy of Justice

Chad Dion Lassiter, MSW, National Expert on Race Relations & Executive Director of Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission

This conversation will explore ways that students, teachers and social change agents can work towards dismantling American Racism.  Additionally, dialogue will also consist of how white racism, white violence and whiteness are threatening the fabric of the democracy. In the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. W.E.B. Dubois, Lassiter will aim to highlight how all humanity can work towards themes of justice. This discussion-led presentation will be moderated by Amer Ahmed, interim executive director for the Office of Equity & Inclusivity and chief diversity officer.

This program is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the Churchill Fund . It is part of the Clarke Forum’s Leadership in a an Age of Uncertainty Series.

Topic overview written by Logan Cort ’22

Biography

Chad Dion Lassiter is a national expert in the field of American race relations. Lassiter has worked on race, peace, and poverty-related issues in The United States of America, Africa, Canada, Haiti, Read more

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Virtual program on YouTube live, 7 p.m.

Livestream Link

Film Screening of What Happens to a Dream Deferred? and Q&A with Filmmaker Esery Mondesir

This short documentary film is part of Mondesir’s “Haitian Trilogy” exploring the lives of Haitian and Haitian-descended communities in Cuba and Mexico. The film showing will be followed by a question and answer session with the filmmaker.

Synopsis of Documentary:
It’s New Year’s Eve in Tijuana, Mexico. Wood and Colonel are busy making Soup Joumou to celebrate Haitian Independence Day with their friends at the “Trap House.” As their cooking progresses, memories of the perilous journey that brought them to the US/Mexico border two years ago resurface. From Haiti to Brazil and through nine other South and Central-American countries, here they are, sandwiched between their dream of a musical career in the US and an American president who calls Haiti a “shithole” and believes all Haitians have AIDS.

This program is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the departments of Spanish & Portuguese and Latin American, Latinx & Caribbean studies.

Topic overview written by Carolina Celedon ’22

Biography
Esery Mondesir is a Toronto-based artist-filmmaker who was born in Port-au-Prince, Haïti. He Read more

Monday, November 9, 2020

Virtual program on YouTube live, 12 p.m. EST

Livestream Link

Community, Connections and Commentary:
Perspectives on the US Elections from Bremen, Málaga, Moscow and Toulouse

Panelists:

Françoise Coste, representing Toulouse, France
Manuel Arias Maldonado, representing Málaga, Spain
Konstantin Sonin, representing Moscow, Russia
Neil van Siclen, representing Bremen, Germany
Sarah Niebler (moderator), Dickinson College

Given the interdependence of the world today, hearing global voices, views and perspectives is more important than ever. Join us and partners from our communities abroad for a discussion on the 2020 U.S. elections. Dickinson College collaborators representing Bremen, Germany; Toulouse, France;  Málaga, Spain;  and Moscow, Russia will give an in-depth analysis of the election results, bringing their insight and highlighting the impact of the elections both near and far.

This event is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues at Dickinson College.

Topic overview written by Gabriella Farrell ’21

Biographies (provided by the panelists)

Françoise Coste is a professor of American studies at the University of Toulouse – Jean Jaurès. She devotes her research to contemporary American politics, with a special focus on the history of women’s rights and on the contemporary conservative movement. Her biography of Ronald Reagan (Reagan Read more

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Virtual program on YouTube live, 12 p.m.

Livestream Link

Pandemic Preparedness and Environmental Awareness

Frédéric Keck

Laboratory of Social Anthropology
(CNRS-Collège de France-EHESS)

The current Covid-19 pandemic has connected public health concerns in the West (the fabric of vaccines, the use of masks and other distancing measures) with questions on what happens with bats in China, since Covid-19 is a zoonosis emerging from animal reservoirs. While preparedness asks us to prepare for future pandemics, and question how much we are prepared in the organization of public health, it also includes attentiveness to environmental changes as early warning signals of pandemics. Focusing on the perception of sentinels for influenza pandemics in Hong Kong, this talk will question how we can read viral mutations as signs of environmental changes.

The event is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the departments of East Asian studies and anthropology.

Topic overview written by Amanda Sowah ’22

Biography (provided by the speaker)

Frédéric Keck is director of research at the Laboratory of Social Anthropology (CNRS-Collège de France-EHESS). After studying philosophy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley, he has been researching the Read more

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Virtual program on YouTube live, 7 p.m.

Livestream Link

Open Forum with Auditor General Eugene DePasquale
Democratic Candidate for Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District

As we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, our foremost priority must be to find a vaccine for COVID-19 and stem the pain of its current economic impact on families and businesses. But as we get past the immediate challenges posed by the virus and its economic fallout, it is critical we begin to think about how we rebuild. Our world, pre-coronavirus, already faced another existential danger, one that is revealing the potential scope of the danger it presents with California suffering from its worst fire season in memory, climate change.

As policy makers, movement leaders, private industry and everyday citizens think about how we rebuild, we can and must factor sustainability and green technology into that equation. Eugene DePasquale, candidate for Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional district will be speaking about how we can use 2021 and beyond as a moment to set our economy and the world on a sustainable path by addressing climate change, structural economic challenges like income inequality, and setting the stage for future prosperity.

This event is also an open Read more

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Virtual program on YouTube live, 7 p.m.

Livestream Link

The State of Environmental Justice in Pennsylvania

Panelists:

Saleem Chapman, City of Philadelphia
Veronica Coptis, Center for Coalfield Justice
Adam Cutler, Fox Rothschild, LLP
Horace Strand, Chester Environmental Partnership
Heather Bedi (moderator), Dickinson College

Environmental justice aspires for all people- regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, or socioeconomic background – to have equal access to a healthy environment, including avenues to participate meaningfully in decisions regarding their environment. Environmental injustice examines which communities and places are disproportionately exposed to environmental health risks from industrial, municipal, commercial operations, or government policies. Research in the field of environmental justice has shown that people living in poverty, as well as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and their communities, are disproportionately impacted by environmental degradation and pollution.  This panel will focus on environmental justice work occurring in Pennsylvania, bringing together community representatives and members of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Environmental Justice Advisory Board to discuss progress and challenges to achieve environmental justice in the Keystone state. Panelists will reflect on the diversity of activism and legal actions taken to achieve environmental justice. Presenters will highlight contemporary and Read more

Monday, October 12, 2020

Livestream Event – 7 p.m.

Livestream Link

Hedgehogs and Foxes:
Toward Climate Pragmatism

Armond Cohen – Rose-Walters Prize for Environmental Activism Recipient

Clean Air Task Force (CATF)

Climate change is the consequence of the uncontrolled use of fossil fuels, providing 80% of our energy, burned in billions of machines. It took us two centuries to create this complex global industrial system. Now we must replace it in a few decades with zero carbon machines while providing much more energy for the world’s poor. The philosopher Isaiah Berlin once cited a fable about two kinds of thinkers: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Hedgehog thinkers embrace single solutions to problems, while foxes see complexity, contingency, and risk. Climate pragmatism embraces multiple strategies and technologies, and a variety of market and policy approaches, to find what works. This is the moment for foxes, not hedgehogs.

This event is sponsored by the The Sam Rose ’58 and Julie Walters Prize at Dickinson College for Global Environmental Activism and co-sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and the Center for Sustainability Education.

Biography (provided by the speaker)

Armond Cohen is executive director of the Clean Air Task Read more

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Virtual program on YouTube live, 7 p.m.

Livestream Link

The Path to Reparations:
No Yellow Brick Road

William Darity           A. Kirsten Mullen

 Duke University                        Artefactual

The co-authors of From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the 21st Century will discuss the promise of and the obstacles to achieving reparations for descendants of U.S. slavery. They also will examine the benefits of mobilizing a reparations project to eliminate the black-white wealth differences in the United States. In addition, they will examine the flaws in existing legislation to promote black reparations.

The event is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the Women’s & Gender Resource Center and the departments of sociology and history.

Topic overview written by Carolina Celedon ’22

Biographies (provided by the panelists)

William A. (“Sandy”) Darity Jr. is the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics and the director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University. He has served as chair of the Department of African and African American Studies and was the founding director of the Research Network on Racial and Ethnic Inequality at Duke. Darity’s research focuses Read more

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Virtual Program on YouTube Live, 7 p.m.
(Rescheduled from 4/21/20)

Link to Video of Presentation

Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández

University of Denver

Every year, the United States imprisons almost half a million people because of immigration law violations. In Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants, García Hernández explains that we haven’t always done things this way and argues that we shouldn’t.

This event is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the departments of sociology; Latin American, Latinx and Caribbean studies; Spanish & Portuguese; the Program in Policy Studies and the Community Studies Center.

Overview of topic written by Gabriella Farrell ’21.

Biography (provided by the speaker)

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández is a writer and law professor at the University of Denver who focuses on migration policing. In December 2019, he published a book, Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants, about the United States’ reliance on prisons to enforce immigration law. In 2015, he published his first book, Crimmigration Law. His op-eds have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, Salon, and Read more