YONKERS, N.Y. – A group of leading scholars, policy-makers, and activists from around the country will convene for a major conference, Nov. 14 and 15, at Sarah Lawrence College to discuss how liberal arts institutions should respond to increased inequality in the United States.
Sarah Lawrence, known as one of the country’s most progressive institutions of higher education, will host the interdisciplinary conference, “Liberal Arts in an Unequal Society.” For information and registration: visit slc.edu/laus/ .
“The United States has entered a new gilded age, with dizzying inequalities in wealth and income accompanied by a steep decline in social mobility.” says conference co-organizer David Peritz, politics professor at Sarah Lawrence. "This vast increase in inequality has inescapable implications for the content as well as the value of a liberal arts education and for the social roles that colleges committed to the liberal arts should embrace. By bringing together a diverse and innovative group of scholars, policy makers and activists, we hope to spur a conversation that will continue long after the conference concludes.”
Participants representing major US institutions of higher learning, municipal governments, and policy and advocacy organizations will address four interconnected themes:
• The nature and causes of the rapid growth of inequality in the contemporary US, and its consequences for American society, culture and politics
• The historical role of liberal arts institutions in shaping a liberal culture in the United States and the importance of this culture, not only in sustaining, but also in expanding access to American democracy
• The fact that access to liberal education also serves as an important vehicle for the transmission of unequal cultural capital and privilege
• The vital question of how liberal arts colleges can work effectively to respond to and counteract inequality in their own institutions, surrounding communities, and in American society as a whole.
The keynote address, “Practicing the Humanities in the Face of Injustice: Lessons from Benjamin, Marx, and Ishiguro” will be delivered by Nancy Fraser, the Henry A. and Louise Loeb professor of philosophy and politics, the New School for Social Research in New York City.
Speakers include the following:
- Thomas Augst, professor of English and acting director of digital humanities, New York University
- Joshua Bogin, magnet director for Springfield Public Schools in Massachusetts; former lead attorney for the U.S, Justice Department in the Yonkers desegregation civil rights lawsuits.
- Prudence L. Carter, professor of education and sociology and the faculty director of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, Stanford University
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