The Vision Series

2013-2014 Arlington Schedule
The Auditorium at Founders Hall

Guest Speakers from last season:

Solon Simmons
Interim Dean, School for
Conflict Analysis and Resolution

Monday, October 14, 2013 at 7:15 p.m.

Simmons presents arguments from his recent book, The Eclipse of Equality: Arguing America on Meet the Press, which explores the atrophy of one of the canonical categories of the moral imagination: equality. Simmons illustrates how the core values of freedom and tolerance have found ready advocates in post-World War II America, while the idea of equality has stagnated and fallen from our collective vocabulary. Americans now confront one another over a dysfunctional divide, lacking the intellectual tools they need to address dire social problems.

Janine Davidson
Assistant Professor, School of Public Policy
Monday, December 2, 2013 at 7:15 p.m.

Terrorists, human traffickers, insurgents, drug dealers, cyber criminals, pirates and other forms of organized violence, all actively exploit the separation that western societies and the international community try to maintain between what is considered "crime" and "war." This separation, which is designed to promote stability and preserve liberty, is reflected in the very architecture, organizational and political cultures, and legal parameters assigned to law enforcement, judicial systems, and the military across western societies and within international institutions. However, insurgents conduct kidnappings by day and launch military-style raids at night as part of a holistic strategy that crosses traditional law enforcement and military boundaries. Pirates operate with impunity knowing that they are unlikely to be overtly attacked by navies on the high seas nor tried in a proper court upon capture. And drug lords, from Latin America to Los Angeles, challenge – and in some cases have virtually defeated – local law enforcement using high-end military weapons and tactics. Such challenges will present the greatest threats to security (human, national, and international) in the coming decades if governments and international institutions, do not develop better – perhaps game-changing – models to operate in this arena.

Richard Norton Smith
Scholar in Residence, History and Art History
Monday, February 24, 2014 at 7:15 p.m.

The world might be divided into two categories: those who write biographies and those who read them. The impulse behind both is akin to what compels people to go on historic house tours - nearly everyone harbors curiosity about how their neighbors live. Needless to say, all sorts of biographies are published to gratify this urge...some are thick academic tomes based on years of painstaking research; some are hasty cut-and-paste jobs exploiting the sensation of the moment; some are pathographies cataloguing the crimes, real or imagined, of a subject with whom the biographer is trapped on an emotional and intellectual desert island. Mr. Smith, whose tenth book (on Nelson Rockefeller) will be published in 2014, will share a few war stories (as in, what to do when your 99 year old supersecret source dies the night before you are to interview her in New York?); draw connections between reality television and the biographical impulse; and time permitting, read briefly from his Rockefeller manuscript. A surprise or two is promised.

Janine Wedel
University Professor, School of Public Policy
Monday, March 24, 2014 at 7:15 p.m.

The "anti-corruption industry" of the 1990s and 2000s, with economists and World Bankers at the helm, defined corruption narrowly--as synonymous with bribery. Corruption was typically not about us, but about those "Others."  These approaches made it difficult to see the highly flexible and mobile forms of corruption that debuted over the past several decades with the privatization of government, the diffusion of global authority, and the development of new information technologies. These new forms of corruption are often more pernicious to the public good - a middle manager taking a bribe is obviously corrupt, but is that more "corrupt" than Goldman Sachs advising near-bankrupt countries like Greece on how to hide their debt? Corruption needs to be reconceptualized to better fit our era. A return to classic understandings of corruption, such as those revealed in texts such as the Bible and the Qur'an, may better serve both the study of corruption and efforts to counter it.

Catherine Gallagher
Director, Cochrane Collaboration
College for Policy

Monday, April 28, 2014 at 7:15 p.m.

Have you ever been told to undergo a medical test or treatment procedure without any knowledge of what it costs and how much you will be paying? What it will lead to in health procedures later? What it will tell your provider that other cheaper tests might reveal? Or what the costs will be to your life if you do not get the test? The answer for most of us is a resounding “yes”, though this is at odds with the new health care mantra of “shared decision making” in which patients work with their providers to reach a plan. Patients and their care givers do belong directly in the center of all decisions, yet we have not provided access to the right information about their options, the costs of each or any of the components, or the consequences of going ahead or foregoing the care. Recent public debates surrounding when men should have their prostate removed, or when women with no risk factors should begin routine breast screening are but the very tip of the iceberg; patients in this new age of decision making require tools and best evidence across the board– for simple things like paying $16 for over-the-counter cough syrup to undergoing full body screening offered up as prevention measures by local health systems. This discussion uses real cases to illustrate tension points in decision processes to bring to life the costs and consequences of how you participate in your care.