George Washington Forum News and Events

GWF Events

Do We Have a Democracy or a Republic, and Why Does it Matter? (Constitution Day Lecture)

Thursday, 15 September 2022

7:30 PM | Galbreath Chapel (College Green)

Image of Randy E. Barnett (Georgetown Law Center)

Randy E. Barnett (Georgetown Law Center)

Randy E. Barnett is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches constitutional law and contracts, and is Director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution. After graduating from Northwestern University and Harvard Law School, he tried many felony cases as a prosecutor in the Cook County States’ Attorney’s Office in Chicago. The author of twelve books and a hundred ofarticles, his most recent book is The Original Meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment: Its Letter and Spirit (2021) (with Evan Bernick). In 2004, he argued the medical marijuana case of Gonzalez v. Raich before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2012, he was one of the lawyers representing the National Federation of Independent Business in its constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

The Culture Wars: A Discussion

Thursday, 20 October 2022

7:30 PM | Galbreath Chapel (College Green)

Image of James Davison Hunter (Virginia) and Wesley YangSecond image of James Davison Hunter (Virginia) and Wesley Yang

James Davison Hunter (Virginia) and Wesley Yang

James Davison Hunter is LaBrosse-Levinson Distinguished Professor of Religion, Culture and Social Theory at the University of Virginia and is the Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. He also served National Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is the author of nine dozen books, including Science and the Good: The Tragic Quest for the Foundations of Morality (2018), The Death of Character: Moral Character in an Age without Good or Evil (2000) and, with Alan Wolfe, Is There a Culture War? A Dialogue on Values and American Public Life (2006). In 1992, he published, Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times book award.

 

Wesley Yang is an essayist and cultural critic, who writes a regular colum for Tablet magazine and is a contributor editor to Esquire. His most recent book is The Souls of Yellow Folk (2018). He has written extensively about identity politics and the ‘successor ideology’.

How Not to Defend Western Civilization

Thursday, 3 November 2022

7:30 PM | Galbreath Chapel (College Green)

Image of James Hankins (Harvard University)

James Hankins (Harvard University)

James Hankins is Professor of History at Harvard University. He is the founder and general editor of the I Tatti Renaissance Library and works on Renaissance Italian history and thought. He has given the Carlyle Lectures in the History of Political Thought at the University of Oxford and is a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. His most recent book is Virtue Politics: Soulcraft and Statecraft in Renaissance Italy (2019).

Is Capitalism Sustainable in a Democracy?

Thursday, 9 February 2023

7:30 PM | Galbreath Chapel (College Green)

Image of Michael Munger (Duke University)

Michael Munger (Duke University)

Michael Munger is Professor of Political Science, and Director of the PPE Certificate Program at Duke University. His primary research focus is on the functioning of markets, regulation, and government institutions. He has taught at Dartmouth College, University of Texas, and University of North Carolina (where he was Director of the Master of Public Administration Program), as well as working as a staff economist at the Federal Trade Commission during the Reagan Administration. He is a past President of the Public Choice Society, an international academic society of political scientists and economists with members in 16 countries. He now co-edits The Independent Review. 

TBA

Tuesday, 7 March 2023

7:30 PM | Galbreath Chapel (College Green)

Image of James Otteson (University of Notre Dame)

James Otteson (University of Notre Dame)

James Otteson is the John T. Ryan Professor of Business Ethics, Rex and Alice A. Martin Faculty Director of the Notre Dame/Deloitte Center for Ethical Leadership at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. His books include Adam Smith’s Marketplace of Life (2002), Actual Ethics (2006), Adam Smith (2013), The End of Socialism (2014), The Essential Adam Smith (2018), and Honorable Business: A Framework for Business in a Just and Humane Society (2019). His most recent book is Seven Deadly Economic Sins (Cambridge, 2021). His forthcoming book is Reexamining the Ethics of Wealth Redistribution (with Steven McMullen; Routledge, forthcoming in 2022).

Capitalism and Informality

Friday-Saturday, 14-15 April 2023

8:00 AM-5:00 PM | Baker University Center

Image of Plenary Speakers: Kellee Tsai (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), Frederike Welter (Institut für Mittelstandsforschung (IfM) Bonn) and Justin Webb (University of North Carolina at Charlotte)

Plenary Speakers: Kellee Tsai (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), Frederike Welter (Institut für Mittelstandsforschung (IfM) Bonn) and Justin Webb (University of North Carolina at Charlotte)

This conference and subsequent special journal issue will examine capitalism and informality. More than a half-century of developmental discourse has portrayed informality as a signal of economic “backwardness”. From the writings of Max Weber to those of Clifford Geertz, Keith Hart, and Alfred Chandler, social scientific theories have suggested that as economies modernize, hierarchical and rationalized forms of economic organization will displace the “unorganized, unincorporated enterprises” and anomic agents of the informal economy. However, contrary to such predictions, informality remains the global norm. The informal economy continues to comprise at least half of all enterprises, a sizable majority of all jobs, and as much as 20 percent of gross domestic product in developed economies and 60 percent in emerging markets.

A recent generation of scholarship has begun to challenge the idea of the informal economy as a “little people’s alternative” — a static realm of simple, disorganized activity that exists outside of history. Studies have shown that, across different societal contexts, participation in the informal economy is driven by opportunity as well as by necessity, informal organizations can also structured and hierarchical, and informal entrepreneurship can play a powerful role in the reshaping of institutions. Scholars have also highlighted the interdependency of formal and informal economies. Informal enterprises and workers continue to supply critical labor, goods, and services that are used across the formal economy and most are intrinsically linked to formal firms. The informal economy is even facilitating the rise of new industries and new economic forms: artificial intelligence systems depend on “ghost laborers” to code the big data from which AI learns; offshore financial centers rely upon informal networks to arrive at understandings of acceptable practices; and sharing economies operate efficiently because of the services of informal middlemen. The informal thus remains inextricably interwoven with even the most modern elements of economies.

This conference will examine the persistence of informal economies and their relationship with economic transformation. It will explore how informal economies have developed complex organizational structures, have co-evolved in tandem with new industries and modes of production, and have shaped the broader economic and social contexts in which they are embedded.

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Origins of Capitalism

Friday–Saturday, 25-26 March 2022

8:30 AM-5:00 PM | Baker Univeristy Center

Image of Plenary Speakers: Gareth Austin (Cambridge), Sven Beckert (Harvard), Emma Griffin (East Anglia), and Prasannan Parthasarathi (Boston College)

Plenary Speakers: Gareth Austin (Cambridge), Sven Beckert (Harvard), Emma Griffin (East Anglia), and Prasannan Parthasarathi (Boston College)

This conference and its subsequent volume will examine yet again the origins of what Max Weber called “the most fateful force in our modern life,” capitalism. Scholarly inquiry into the origins of capitalism dates back to the founding of the social sciences and the topic is of perennial interest. Why did a radically new form of socioeconomic organization that eventually encompassed and transformed the globe emerge in parts of the early modern world? The question has generated and continues to generate extensive debate across disciplines.

 

This conference will bring together historians and historically-oriented social scientists to reconsider the origins of capitalism in the early modern period (c. 1450 to c. 1850). It will include researchers working on all the major world regions—Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas—as well as comparativists and generalists in order to explore the topic regionally, globally, and theoretically. In addition to examining the historical emergence of capitalism, the conference will discuss the concepts and categories that are used to grasp the nature and dynamics of this form of socioeconomic organization. The organizers aim to include as many different approaches to the study of capitalism as possible among the conference presentations and in the subsequent volume.

 

Gareth Austin (Cambridge), Sven Beckert (Harvard), Emma Griffin (East Anglia), and Prasannan Parthasarathi (Boston College) will deliver plenary lectures.

 

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We Have Never Been Woke: Social Justice Discourse, Inequality and the Rise of a New Elite

Thursday, 20 January 2022

7:30 PM | Galbreath Chapel (College Green)

Image of Musa Al-Gharbi (Columbia University)

Musa Al-Gharbi (Columbia University)

Musa Al-Gharbi is a Paul F. Lazarsfeld Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Columbia University and will be an SNF Agora Institute Visiting Fellow at Johns Hopkins University in Fall 2021. Previously he was a Mellon-Sawyer Fellow on Trust and Mistrust of Experts for the Interdisciplinary Center on Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE), in partnership with the American Assembly, at Columbia University. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, New Republic and many other popular outlets — as well as in publications by the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Army War College, the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point (CTC), the Brookings Institute, RAND Corporation and beyond. He was the communications director of Heterodox Academy (HxA) from 2016–2020. His first book, We Have Never Been Woke: Social Justice Discourse, Inequality and the Rise of a New Elite is forthcoming from Princeton University Press in 2023.

 

The event will be live-streamed for those who cannot attend in person.

The 1619 Project: A Missed Opportunity

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

7:30 PM | Galbreath Chapel (College Green)

Image of Lucas Morel (Washington & Lee University)

Lucas Morel (Washington & Lee University)

Lucas Morel is John K. Boardman, Jr. Professor of Politics at Washington and Lee University, where he has taught since 1999. He earned his PhD in political science from the Claremont Graduate University after doing his undergraduate work at Claremont McKenna College. He is a trustee of the Supreme Court Historical Society, former president of the Abraham Lincoln Institute, a consultant on Library of Congress exhibits on Lincoln and the Civil War, was a member of the scholarly board of advisors for the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, and currently serves on the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, which will plan activities to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States of America. His books include Lincoln’s Sacred Effort: Defining Religion’s Role in American Self-Government (2000) and Lincoln and the American Founding (2020). He has also edited Ralph Ellison and the Raft of Hope: A Political Companion to “Invisible Man” (2004), Lincoln and Liberty: Wisdom for the Ages (2014) and co-edited The New Territory: Ralph Ellison and the Twenty-First Century (2016).

 

Liberal Democracy and the Age of Revolution

12–13 November 2021

8:30 AM-5:30 PM | Baker Center 242

Image of Plenary speakers: David Bell (Princeton), Janet Polasky (New Hampshire) and Helena Rosenblatt (CUNY-Graduate Center)

Plenary speakers: David Bell (Princeton), Janet Polasky (New Hampshire) and Helena Rosenblatt (CUNY-Graduate Center)

Benjamin Constant famously argued that the great achievement of what we now call the Age of Revolution was “representative government” and that “this form of government, the only one in the shelter of which we could find some freedom and peace today, was totally unknown to the free nations of antiquity.” It has been commonplace ever since to claim that many of the fundamental ideas and institutions that we associate with modern representative democracy emerged from the revolutionary upheavals of the later eighteenth century.

 

This conference and its subsequent volume aim to look afresh at the story of liberal democracy’s origins in the Age of Revolution spanning from the Seven Years’ War to the fall of Napoleon (c. 1760–1815). Did the ideas and institutions of liberal democracy actually emerge during the Age of Revolution? If so, how and why? Were they the product of long-term developments that came to fruition during the revolutionary era? Or were they generated by and amid the conflicts, debates, and upheavals of the period itself? Given that most of the era’s revolutions and uprisings were ultimately either contained or defeated, is it justified to contend that the Age of Revolution witnessed the birth of liberal-democratic ideas and institutions? If not, then what connection is there between the revolutionary turmoil of the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and the eventual development of liberal democracy in the West and beyond over the next two centuries?

 

David Bell (Princeton), Janet Polasky (New Hampshire), and Helena Rosenblatt (CUNY-Graduate Center) will deliver plenary lectures.

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COVID-19: Vaccines, Focused Protection and Public Policy

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

7:30 PM | Galbreath Chapel (College Green)

Image of Jay Bhattacharya (Stanford University Medical School)

Jay Bhattacharya (Stanford University Medical School)

Jay Bhattacharya is Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, where he has taught since 2001 and where he earned his MD and PhD in Economics. With Sunetra Gupta (Oxford) and Martin Kulldorff (Harvard), he is one of the co-authors of the Great Barrington Declaration. A research associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research and a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and at the Stanford Freeman Spogli Institute, Bhattacharya holds courtesy appointments as Professor in Economics and in Health Research and Policy. He directs the Stanford Center on the Demography of Health and Aging.  Bhattacharya’s research focuses on the economics of health care around the world with a particular emphasis on the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. His peer-reviewed research has been published in economics, statistics, legal, medical, public health, and health policy journals. He is also on the scientific advisory and editorial boards of Collateral Global.