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Comparative Presidencies: Gorbachev, Putin, Obama

taubmanWilliam Taubman
Bertrand Snell Professor of Political Science Emeritus

September 19, 2012

In comparing the presidencies, Prof. Taubman focuses on the role that each president'spersonality plays (or doesn't play) in determining his policies.

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Black Soldiers, Sexuality and the Civil Rights Movement


Khary Polk
Robert E. Keiter 1957 Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of Black Studies

November 9, 2012

Was the racial integration of the U.S. military an outcome of the civil rights movement, or was it often the other way around? While black soldiers were still dealing with the prejudice of the U.S. military, seeing the world outside U.S. boundaries changed their sense of what was possible, says Khary Polk, the Robert E. Keiter 1957 Postdoctoral Fellow and visiting assistant professor of black studies.  They returned home to fight for improved rights for both civilians and soldiers. Amherst graduates were among those who spearheaded this change: lawyer Charles Hamilton Houston '15 served in World War I and went on to mentor African-American jurists--such as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall--who would join him in laying the legal groundwork for the 1954 Supreme Court decision that banned racial segregation in public schools. William H. Hastie '25 was instrumental in advocating for African-American soldiers in World War II. Polk, a self-described "military brat" who lived abroad for much of his childhood, is writing a book on the topic.

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Incarceration, Voting and Human Rights


Martha Saxton
Professor of History and Women's and Gender Studies and Elizabeth W. Bruss Reader

October 26, 2012

The Human Rights Declaration says that “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.”  Unlike many nations, most of the United States deprive incarcerated men and women of the right to vote, not only when they are serving their time, but also when they are released—sometimes for many years thereafter. This not only violates the human rights of the incarcerated, but also skews state and national elections. Martha Saxton, professor of history and women's and gender studies and Elizabeth W. Bruss Reader, will discuss some of the variety of ways states disenfranchise imprisoned citizens and what the implications are for our political process.

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Contemplative Pedagogy and the Transformation of Education

barbezatDaniel P. Barbezat
Professor of Economics

January 23, 2013

Colleges and universities face many great challenges. Increasing costs, a lack of vision and mission, student behavior and rapidly changing educational technologies bring into question the current and future state of post-secondary education. What can we do to face these pressing issues? The use of critical, first-person approaches (introspection, thought experiments, etc.) to teaching can address these problems, providing new ground for students to explore what means most deeply to them while better understanding the material of their courses. In this lecture, Prof. Barbezat describes and explains the use of these practices in his economics courses.

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Memory: Why you're always right and they're always wrong

matthew schulkindMatthew Schulkind
Associate Professor of Psychology

March 22, 2013

If memory worked like a video camera and provided a faithful record of our past experiences, we would never disagree with our friends and family about important events from our pasts. But memory does not work that way, and contrary to what you might think, we might be better off for it. In this talk, he’ll describe how cognitive psychologists think memory works and why we should be glad to accept the imperfections inherent in the system.

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Is the Death Penalty Dying?

Austin SaratAustin Sarat
William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science

November 19, 2009



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