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Institute fall series explores race, gender and discrimination


The Institute for Freedom and Community (IFC) released a lineup of three speakers for their fall series, “Discrimination and the Search for Justice and Truth.”

The first event, “Truth, Justice and Racial Equality,” will feature Glenn Loury, professor of economics at Brown University. Loury focuses on the economic aspects of race and inequality. In the past, he has been critical of affirmative action and reparations.

“Given its interest in intellectual diversity, the Institute is especially concerned to acquaint the community with perspectives that aren’t given a lot of hearing generally at the College,” IFC director Edmund Santurri said. “Our guest speaker, Glenn Loury, is a case in point.”

“Debates about race, gender and other social issues that have roiled the academy in recent years raise questions, at least implicitly, about the nature and purpose of higher education.”
– Edmund Santurri

The two other speakers this semester are writer, historian and journalist Alice Dreger and sociologist and St. Olaf graduate Beth Truesdale ’97. Dreger and Truesdale will speak on “Truth, Justice and the Science of Gender” and “Truth, Justice and America’s Aging Workforce,” respectively.

Loury, Dreger and Truesdale were chosen as speakers for the fall series due to their expertise and prominence in their fields, Santurri said.

The Institute held a community discussion about the theme at a faculty seminar over the summer. The discussion included many perspectives on the issue of truth and justice and how it relates to the purpose of the College.

“Debates about race, gender and other social issues that have roiled the academy recently raise questions, at least implicitly, about the nature and purpose of higher education,” Santurri said. “These questions were pursued in the July faculty seminar in anticipation of continuing the discussion this fall in the larger community with invited prominent guest speakers focusing on specific dimensions of the larger question.”

In addition to organizing the lecture series, the Institute has seen several changes over the summer. The organization now has its own space in Tomson Hall that will be used for administrative duties and student outreach. Moreover, Tanya Charlick-Paley, former professor of political science at Kenyon College joined as the new assistant director after the departure of former assistant director, Greg Siems.

“I am excited to be at St. Olaf and to be the Assistant Director of the Institute,” Charlick-Paley said. “I look forward to a meaningful dialogue together this fall.”

The Institute aims to connect more with students across campus. The Student Advisory Board meets with Charlick-Paley once a month to provide additional input regarding programming, student initiatives and career opportunities. Part of this input has involved increasing the student body’s interface with the speakers that the Institute brings to campus.

“In the discussions at our first Student Advisory Board meeting, students felt that there should be more context, content and opportunity for discussion before the fall series lecture events take place and perhaps also afterwards to debrief what students heard and thought,” Charlick-Paley said.

The new Tomson space could be used for these debriefings, Santurri said.
The first lecture in the fall series, “Truth, Justice and Racial Equality,” will take place Friday, Sept. 27 in Tomson Hall 280.