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"Teaching Through (and About) the Pandemic" is a conversation with Professor Austin Sarat, moderated by Chief Advancement Officer Betsy Cannon Smith '84.

Sarat is Amherst's William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, as well as the associate provost, associate dean of the faculty, and chair of the Department of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought. Sarat received a B.A. from Providence College, both an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. He is author or editor of more than 90 books, including The Death Penalty on the Ballot: American Democracy and the Fate of Capital Punishment, The Lives of Guns and Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America’s Death Penalty.

At Amherst, Sarat teaches courses about law and violence, one of which is called "Murder." This course discusses the representation of murder in law, literature and popular culture. Another course takes up the subject of punishment. In that course, Sarat tries to help students understand why and when we punish and what punishment reveals about those who punish. These courses, like almost everything Sarat teaches, are deeply interdisciplinary, moving out from the study of law or political science to draw on philosophy, literature, sociology and history. Sarat’s hope is to take students on a journey from the familiar to the strange-- that is, to start with something about which students are familiar and, using the insights of different disciplines, to illuminate the complexities of those familiar subjects. Sarat also teaches courses on law and film; courses on law, jurisprudence and social thought; and a First-Year Seminar, "Secrets and Lies."

Betsy Cannon Smith ’84, P’15, was appointed chief advancement officer on May 23, 2019, by President Biddy Martin. Cannon Smith, who had been alumni secretary since 1993, has served the College in a number of key leadership positions within the Advancement division since joining that group in 1986, including with Alumni and Parent Programs, the Annual Fund and the leadership gifts component of the College’s comprehensive campaigns.

In addition to leading the College’s Promise campaign, Cannon Smith advises the Board of Trustees and Martin on advancement issues and serves on the College’s senior leadership team. She enhances and executes the strategic plan for advancement by capitalizing on Amherst’s existing philanthropic strengths and identifying new opportunities. She promotes and cultivates alumni and parent engagement with creative programming and will collaborate with departments and colleagues across the College. Cannon Smith, who earned a degree in English from Amherst, has served as the liaison with the Board of Trustees for areas including trusteeships, honorary degrees and Medals for Eminent Service. She also was a member of the 2003 search committee for the College’s president.

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