The Institute for Freedom and Community hosted two events this interim, entitled “Race, Immigration, and the American Dream in the 21st Century,” and “Sexual Paranoia, Gender Strife, Cultural Revolution.” The two conversations served as a bridge between the past fall semester programming and the upcoming spring semester events. They addressed a diversity of ideas from a variety of viewpoints, centered around the two topics of immigration and gender strife.
The first of the two events, “Race, Immigration, and the American Dream in the 21st Century,” took place on Jan. 21. The conversation between the three panelists was presented in commemoration of the achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as part of the St. Olaf College celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The three guest speakers represented different backgrounds of expertise and experience. Christina Greer is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University, with expertise in black ethnic and urban politics. Jason D. Hill is a Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University, and was an immigrant to the U.S. from Jamaica at the age of 20. Leah Rigueur is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Morrison Family Director of the Institute Edmund Santurri introduced the panel speakers before the event. He said thespeakers’ “very different disciplinary and normative perspectives” aptly demonstrated the “Institute’s committment to viewpoint diversity.”
According to Santurri, the conversation served as a bridge between the theme of the fall series and the upcoming spring series theme of “Who is my neighbor? Immigration, Freedom and Community.”
“The idea was to invite three African-American scholars to reflect on the meaning of the American dream and how it may connect to immigration,” Santurri said.
The second of the two events, “Sexual Paranoia, Gender Strife, Cultural Revolution” was presented as an inquiry into the recent controversies surrounding Title IX on college campuses.
“Anybody that looks at our upcoming program will see that we have a great diversity of perspectives. [Immigration] is a complex issue; we hope to generate a rich conversation about it.”– Edmund Santurri
The guest speaker, Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis, took part in a conversation with Santurri concerning her recently published book, “Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus” (2017). Kipnis advocates for more honesty about the sexual realities and ambivalences hidden behind the notion of “rape culture” after she herself came under fire for publishing an article investigating the prosecution of Title IX cases at Northwestern University.
“[Kipnis] offers a view that isn’t given much thought at St. Olaf,” Santurri said. “We don’t usually hear the other side of the story, which is a side that Kipnis has extended.”
When deciding to host the event, Santurri made the decision to sit down and publicize his conversation with Laura to promote community interest.
“People prefer the dialogue, rather than a straight lecture,” Santurri said. “That is why we decided to publicize my conversation with [Kipnis].”
The Institute for Freedom and Community has four events planned for the spring series, each offering different global and institutional perspectives about the debates surrounding immigration. American professors, foreign policy specialists and European political experts are all featured in the events.
“These speakers represent a wide range of different normative perspectives on this issue of immigration,” Santurri said. “Anybody that looks at our upcoming program will see that we have a great diversity of perspectives. [Immigration] is a complex issue; we hope to generate a rich conversation about it. These conversations include a wide range of voices to truly appreciate the complexity of the issue at hand.”