Past Forums

Spring 2014

"Pondering Paradise: Contemporary Issues Through a Pacific Lens" Professor Evelyn Ho of the Communication Studies Department and Professor Evelyn Rodriguez of the Department of Sociology

This forum deeply and critically studied the Pacific to investigate new perspectives on US history, and the morality and ethics of America’s past, present, and future choices around pressing contemporary issues like globalization, war, development, migration, and their various outcomes.

Guests: Jon Okamura, Keith Camacho, Konrad Ng, Leanne Ferrer, Leslie Lombre, and Lisette Flanary

Fall 2013

"Corruption, Ethics and Crisis: The American Economy at Crossroads" Professor Suparna Chakraborty of the Economics Department

This forum took an in-depth examination of the erosion of values in American businesses today and its consequences on the greater economy. It attempted to search for the roots of the recent crisis and loss of moral fiber in pursuit of profit maximization, and examined how taking short-cuts with ethics can undermine the very foundations of the market economy on which our society is based.

Guests: Anil Kashyap, Jeremy Wilson, Mark Meaney, and Josh Kornbluth

Spring 2013

"Women, Violence, and War" Professor Annick Wibben of the Department of Politics

This forum gathered and interrogated the most up-to-date research by scholars from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds whose combined insights provide a unique overview of the evolving roles of women at the intersection of violence and war – from the domestic to the international and back.

Guests: Anu Bhagwati, Sarai Aharoni, Caron Gentry, Swati Parashar, Eina Penttinen, and Cynthia Enloe

 Fall 2012

"Responsibility in Law and Morality" Professor Manuel Vargas of the Department of Philisophy

This forum was a sustained investigation into the nature of moral and legal responsibility. In everyday life, we govern our conduct in light of expectations that we can be called to account for what we do, and what we fail to do, in our interactions with others. Philosophers have tended to think about this set of practices in terms of moral responsibility. The legal system has a similar but not identical structure: we can be held liable, punished, and even executed for our choices—but only under particular conditions.

Guests: Tamler Sommers, Nicole Vincent . . . 

Spring 2012

Davies Forum Spring 2012

"Citizenship in Japan and the U.S." Professor Hwaji Shin of the Department of Sociology

This forum was a comparative study of how these two countries, Japan and the United States, developed their sense of nationhood and citizenship in the 20th century. These two nations are among the biggest political economies in theworld, and they share a very complex and intimate history. The United States was the first and only country to drop a nuclear bomb over a civilian city, and Japan is the only one to have experienced it in the world to this date. However, after such a bitter war at mid-century, these two countries moved on to develop a very strong alliance. Have you ever wondered how two countries, erstwhile enemies, could reconcile together? This forum will explore and examine these themes.

Guests: Harumi Befu, Scott Tsuchitani . . .

Fall 2011 Graphic

Fall 2011

 "Making American Book Culture" Professor Vamsee Juluri of the Department of Media Studies.

Making American Book Culture explored the significance of books to the stories we tell ourselves about our nation, world, and humanity today. The goal of the seminar was to understand the historical, political, economic, ethical and aesthetic forces shaping the world of books for authors, readers, and equally importantly, publishers.

Guests: Augusten Burroughs, Carl Bromley, Namita Gokhale . . .

Spring 2011 

"Envisioning a Post-Carbon City: Creative Strategies for Climate Change" Professor Tracy Seeley (English; Environmental Spring 2011 GraphicStudies) and Professor Stephanie Ohshita (Environmental Science; Environmental Studies; Environmental Management)

Few issues are as pressing as the disruption of the Earth’s climate, and few actions as critical as working toward ways of living that are in tune with climate system. But what would it be like to live in an urban place that’s made this transition to a climate-friendly society? Addressing this question requires scientific knowledge, creativity and imagination—which is where this class begins. Bringing together climate and energy science, creative writing, and map-making, this seminar envisioned the future and communicated that vision to others. Class members created displays on campus and on the internet of their writings, maps and visionary plans for a post-carbon city—visions based on sound science and human stories.

Guests: Tiffany Holmes, Rebecca Solnit, Peter Calthorpe . . .

Fall 2010

"Seeing Values in Mysterious Places" Professor William Edwards (Sociology)Crime Fic

This course sampled a selected group of crime novels from the perspective of what they can tell us about conflicts and how they are resolved at multiple levels. Crime, as sociologists argue, is a violation of society’s norms. It is believed to be an affront to a system of values. What if those values are violated? How does the individual respond? How does society respond? What are the parameters of permissible behavior? What alternatives will society allow in the resolution of conflict? How do society’s mechanisms of social control reinforce its values.

Guests: Thomas H. Cook, Michael Connelly, Maureen Corrigan . . .

 Spring 2010

"Home and the World: Democracy and Citizenship in a Globalizing San Francisco" Professor Keally McBride (Politics)  Bridge(1)

This course investigated San Francisco as it is effected by local politics, global dynamics, and urban imperatives.  It draws upon disparate fields such as international political economy, architecture, urban studies, geography, environmental sciences, and journalism to examine how processes which have been called “glocalization” are occurring in San Francisco. 

Guests :  Richard Walker, Jason Henderson, Francisco Ugarte . . .

Fall 2009


What on Earth is Going On? Evolution, Faith and Reason in the USA Professor John Cobley (Chemistry)

The seminar topic is both timely and significant. 2009 is the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and is also the 150th anniversary of the publication of one of the most influential books ever written, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection."

Guests: Francisco Ayala...

Spring 2009


"Re-making the News" Professor Dorothy Kidd (Media Studies)

This forum investigated the upheavals in the commercial and publicly-funded media networks, which search for new audiences and economic models, as they migrate to new media platforms, and add and subtract workers and services. The forum also investigated the alternatives which are being created by journalists, public and community-oriented media, social movements, and citizens around the world, who are shifting the global axes of communicative power, and modeling new ways to provide news, information, analysis and debate better crafted to the democratic interests of diverse publics around the world.

Guests: Paul Jay, Alex Gibney, and Maria Suarez Toro...

Fall 2008

Mixed Race Legacy Loving

Mixed Race and the Legacy of Loving Professors Ron Sundstrom (Philosophy) and Evelyn Rodriguez (Sociology)

This forum explored the histories, issues, and implications of racial mixing and racial mixture, especially since the 1967 Supreme Court decision, Loving vs. State of Virginia, which declared that it is unconstitutional to prevent marriages between persons solely on the basis of racial classifications.

Guests: Peggy Gillespie, Family Diversity Projects, Michael Omi...

Spring 2008

Digital Literacy

Digital Literacy Professor David Silver (Media Studies)

Facebook and Fox News, tv and tivo, youtube and yahoo, ipods, iphones, ieverything – our students are swimming in information. Digital Literacy taught students how to navigate, evaluate, create, and participate in today’s digital environments.

Guests: Mary Madden, Ivan Chew, Brewster Kahle...

Fall 2007

Future Great Cities

The Future of Great Cities: Development Policy and Social Justice in Urban America Professor Corey Cook (Politics)

The Future of Great Cities investigated the sweeping socio-political and economic forces reshaping American cities, the emergence of profound inequality in urban spaces, and the various development strategies communities might adopt to ensure equitable and sustainable growth and social justice

Guests: Tom McEnery, Hannah McKinney, Malik Rahim...

Spring 2007

Gender Sexuality

Gender, Sexuality and the Media: Representations and Realities Professor Bernadette Barker-Plummer (Media Studies)This forum investigated the representation of gender and sexualities in contemporary media and related these images and meanings to the realities of gender and sexuality in peoples’ lives and in politics.

Guests: Josh Gamson, Katherine Sender, Sean Dorsey...

Fall 2006

Jewish Women Arts

Camoflauge and Representation: Jewish Women in the Arts Professors Paula Birnbaum and Sharon Siskin (Arts+Architecture)

This forum raised issues of gender and ethnicity in modern and contemporary American culture through the lens of Jewish-American women in the visual, literary and performing arts.

Guests: Candace Faulk, Alison Luterman, Beverly Naidus...