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Speaker Profiles

CERRI BANKS (Sept. 24) is the dean of students and vice president for student affairs at Skidmore College.  Previously, she served as vice president for student affairs and dean of the college at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts and as the dean of William Smith College at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva NY. Banks received her Ph.D. in Cultural Foundations of Education and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Women’s Studies, both from Syracuse University and specializes in sociology of education, cultural studies, multicultural education, and qualitative research. Committed to educational reform and issues of inclusion, Banks draws from educational theory, feminist theory, and critical race theory in her work as the dean and in her teaching, research and writing. Her book Black Women Undergraduates, Cultural Capital and College Success (2009) expands the theoretical concept of cultural capital and provides practical ways colleges and universities can recognize and utilize the cultural capital of all students. She is also the co-author of the edited text, Teaching, Learning and Intersecting Identities in Higher Education (2012). 

BRIAN BERKEY (Nov. 19) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and an associated faculty member in the Department of Philosophy at Penn. He earned hid PhD in philosophy at UC-Berkeley in 2012, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Ethics in Society at Stanford before moving to Penn. He was also a 2018-19 Berggruen Fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. He works in moral and political philosophy, including environmental and business ethics. He has published articles on moral demandingness, obligations of justice, climate ethics, and effective altruism. His work has appeared in journals such as Mind, Philosophical Studies, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Utilitas, Journal of Applied Philosophy, and Social Theory and Practice. Much of his current work focuses on obligations of justice in the economic domain, including the obligations of corporations.


DEREK BLACK (Oct. 29) is currently a doctoral student in history at the University of Chicago, researching the medieval and early modern origins of racist hierarchies and ideologies. He was raised in the leading family of the white nationalist movement. His father founded the first online white power community, Stormfront. From an early age, Derek participated in media interviews, gave talks around the country, won public office, and ran a daily radio program in support of his family’s ideology. In college, he was condemned by the campus community of a Florida liberal arts college, and over several years came to engage with anti-racist ideas. He ultimately condemned his family’s ideology in 2013 and has spoken out over the past several years against the reality of white supremacist political activism. He is the subject of Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist (2018) by Eli Saslow.


FARA DABHOIWALA (Feb. 18) is Senior Research Scholar/Lecturer with rank of Professor in the History Department at Princeton University. An historian of England, and of the English-speaking world, since the middle ages, his main interests are in the history of language and communication in all its forms. His current projects include a history of free speech; a global history of English; a brief history of the signature; and the biography of a seventeenth-century scrivener and spy. He has previously published on the history of changing sexual attitudes and behaviour. His book The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution (2012) tells the story of the Enlightenment origins of modern western attitudes to sex. It drew on pictorial, fictional, judicial, philosophical, and other kinds of evidence, and tried to connect together social, intellectual, literary, legal, political, and other kinds of history. Before coming to Princeton in 2016, he spent many years on the Faculty at Oxford, where he is now a life fellow of All Souls College and of Exeter College.


HOWARD GILLMAN (Sept. 24) is chancellor of the University of California, Irvine and a professor of law, political science, and history.  He is the author (with Erwin Chemerinsky) of Free Speech on Campus (2017) and The Religion Clauses: The Case for Separating Church and State (2020), as well The Constitution Besieged: The Rise and Demise of Lochner Era Police Powers Jurisprudence (1993), The Votes That Counted: How the Court Decided the 2000 Presidential Election (2001), and American Constitutionalism (multivolumes, with Mark Graber and Keith Whittington), among other works. He has received many awards for his scholarship, and for teaching excellence and dedication to students. He provides administrative oversight and co-chairs the National Advisory Board of the University of California’s National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement.


GENEVIEVE LAKIER (Nov. 19) is Assistant Professor of Law and Herbert and Marjorie Fried Teaching Scholar at the University of Chicago Law School. Lakier’s scholarship explores the connections between culture and law; her current research includes an exploration of the cultural history of the First Amendment as well as the state’s changing role in the regulation of sex. Between 2006 and 2008, she was an Academy Scholar at the Weatherhead Center for International and Area Studies at Harvard University. She is the author of “Imagining an Antisubordinating First Amendment” in the Columbia Law Review and has written for the Harvard Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, and Supreme Court Review. Lakier was an academy scholar at the Weatherhead Center for International and Area Studies at Harvard University. After law school, she clerked for Judge Leonard B. Sand of the Southern District of New York and Judge Martha C. Daughtrey of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.


NEETI NAIR (Jan. 21) is Associate Professor of History at the University of Virginia, where she teaches South Asian history with a special emphasis on colonialism, nationalism, decolonization, and the afterlives of the Partition of the Indian subcontinent. She is the author of Changing Homelands: Hindu Politics and the Partition of India (2011; paperback, 2016). Her articles have appeared in leading scholarly journals, including Modern Asian StudiesIndian Economic and Social History Review, and the Economic and Political Weekly, as well as in media outlets such as The Print, the Indian Express and India Today. She is currently working on a comparative legal and political history of "hurt sentiments" and blasphemy in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Nair has held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Institute of Indian Studies, and the Mellon Foundation. She is currently a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C.


KEVIN M.F. PLATT (Sept. 24) is Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He works on representations of Russian history, Russian historiography, history and memory in Russia, Russian lyric poetry, and global post-Soviet Russian cultures. He is the author of Terror and Greatness: Ivan and Peter as Russian Myths (2011) and editor of Global Russian Cultures (2018). He is the organizer of Your Language My Ear, a periodic Russian–English poetry translation symposium that takes place at Penn. He has also edited and contributed translations to a number of books of Russian poetry in English translation, most recently Orbita: The Project (2018) and Hit Parade: The Orbita Group (2015). His current projects include a study of contemporary Russian culture in Latvia, tentatively titled Near Abroad, a study of history and memory in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia, and a study of global cultural exchange in the twentieth century.


JOHN POWELL (Sept. 25) is Professor of Law and Professor of African American Studies and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the Director of the Othering & Belonging Institute (formerly Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society), which supports research to generate specific prescriptions for changes in policy and practice that address disparities related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and socioeconomics in California and nationwide. In addition, to being a, Professor powell holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion. Professor powell has written extensively on a number of issues including structural racism, racial justice and regionalism, concentrated poverty and urban sprawl, opportunity based housing, voting rights, affirmative action in the United States, South Africa and Brazil, racial and ethnic identity, spirituality and social justice, and the needs of citizens in a democratic society. He is the author of several books, including his most recent work, Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society (2015).

HENRY REICHMAN (Sept. 29) is Professor Emeritus of History, California State University, East Bay. He was previously the Assistant Director, Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association (ALA) and has been the editor of the ALA Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom from 1982-2015. He has had many roles as an active member of the American Association of University Professor (AAUP), including chair of the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure. He is the author of Railwaymen and Revolution: Russia, 1905 (U. of California Press, 1987) and Censorship and Selection: Issues and Answers for Schools (ALA, 1988, 1993, 2001). His most recent book, The Future of Academic Freedom (2019), includes 10 essays, on topics from social media to outside donor influence on colleges and universities, from unions to recent student protests over campus speech, which together make the case that academic freedom is threatened today from multiple directions and that challenges to it are central to the present crisis in higher education.

CATHERINE J. ROSS (April 15) is the Fred C. Stevenson Research Professor at the George Washington University Law School. She specializes in constitutional law (with particular emphasis on the First Amendment), family law, and legal and policy issues concerning children. Her book, Lessons in Censorship: How Schools and Courts Subvert Students' First Amendment Rights (2015) was named the Best Book on the First Amendment by Concurring Opinions’ First Amendment News, and won the Critics’ Choice Book Award from the American Education Studies Association. Professor Ross has been a co-author of Contemporary Family Law since the First Edition (the Fourth Edition was published in 2015). In 2015-2016, Professor Ross was a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard School of Education. She was a Member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton from 2008-2009. An elected Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, Professor Ross is former chair of the ABA’s Steering Committee on the Unmet Legal Needs of Children and former chair of the Section on Law and Communitarianism of the Association of American Law Schools.


RAHUL SAGAR (Mar. 18) is Global Network Associate Professor of Political Science at NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai. He was previously Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale NUS and Assistant Professor of Politics at Princeton University. Sagar's primary research interests are in political theory, political ethics, and public policy. He has written on a range of topics including executive power, moderation, and political realism. He is also deeply interested in the politics and society of India, especially Indian political thought. His book Secrets and Leaks: The Dilemma of State Secrecy (2013) received the National Academy of Public Administration’s 2014 Louis Brownlow Award, the Society for the Policy Sciences’ 2015 Myres S. McDougal Prize, and was designated a 2014 CHOICE Outstanding Title. Sagar's work has been published in edited volumes and peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Political Philosophy, The Journal of Politics, Ethics and International Affairs, and Polity. He is a Global Ethics Fellow at the Carnegie Council and has received grants from a number of organizations including the Smith Richardson Foundation.


JOAN WALLACH SCOTT (Sept. 29) is Professor Emerita at the Institute for Advanced Study School of Social Science. Her groundbreaking work has challenged the foundations of conventional historical practice, including the nature of historical evidence and historical experience and the role of narrative in the writing of history. Broadly, the object of her work is the question of difference in history: its uses, enunciations, implementations, justifications, and transformations in the construction of social and political life. Scott’s recent books have focused on the vexed relationship of the particularity of gender to the universalizing force of democratic politics. They include Gender and the Politics of History (1988), Only Paradoxes to Offer: French Feminists and the Rights of Man (1996), Parité: Sexual Equality and the Crisis of French Universalism (2005), The Politics of the Veil (2007), The Fantasy of Feminist History (2011), Sex and Secularism (2017), Knowledge, Power, and Academic Freedom (2018), and On the Judgment of History (2020). Scott is a founding editor of History of the Present, a journal of theoretically-informed history. Scott is a long-standing member and former chair of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure.  


JAIME SETTLE (Dec. 10) is the David and Carolyn Wakefield Term Associate Professor of Government at the College of William & Mary. She is the director of the Social Networks and Political Psychology Lab and co-director of the Social Science Research Methods Center. She also serves as the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Data Science Program. Settle is a scholar of American political behavior with expertise in the fields of political psychology and communication. Her research focuses on how political interactions—both face-to-face and online—affect the way individuals perceive conflict in their environment, evaluate other people, and engage within the political system. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation. Settle has published 20 peer-reviewed manuscripts or chapters in venues such as Nature, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Journal of Political Science, and the Journal of Politics. Her book Frenemies: How Facebook Polarizes America (2018) won a best book award from the Experiments in Politics section and an honorable mention from the Political Networks section of the American Political Science Association.

MATT SHAFER (April 1) is the 2019-20 Andrea Mitchell Center Postdoctoral Fellow. He received his PhD in political theory from Yale University. His research examines the politics of language and the language of politics in contemporary democratic life. His dissertation, “What Violence Was: On the Limits of a Political Concept,” provided a critical history of recent debates over how the word “violence” itself should be defined in political theory and deployed in political rhetoric. His research at the Mitchell Center extends this work, examining not only how new accounts of the violence of language have become increasingly significant to political life today but also  how such accounts move uneasily between competing conceptual frameworks such as “speech and harm” versus “discourse and power.”  Recent work has been published in Constellations, the European Journal of Political Theory, and elsewhere. Prior to his doctoral work, he completed an MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History at the University of Cambridge and a BA in Philosophy at Yale.


AMANDA SHANOR (Nov. 19) is Assistant Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where her scholarship focuses on constitutional law, and particularly the intersection of the First Amendment and economic life. Prior to joining the academy, she worked in the National Legal Department of the American Civil Liberties Union on the organization’s Supreme Court litigation, including Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. She was previously a fellow at Georgetown University Law Center’s Center on National Security & the Law, where she litigated constitutional and national security cases, including Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder. Shanor has taught courses at Yale Law School and Georgetown University Law Center, and has published in the New York University Law Review, the Harvard Law Review Forum, and the Yale Law Journal Forum, among others. She is a regular contributor to the legal blog Take Care and the co-author of Counterterrorism Law (2011). She is a graduate of Yale Law School and Yale College, and a PhD candidate in law at Yale University.


GEOFFREY R. STONE (Sept. 25) is the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. Mr. Stone joined the faculty in 1973, after serving as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. He later served as Dean of the Law School (1987-1994) and Provost of the University of Chicago (1994-2002). Stone is the author of many books on constitutional law, including Democracy and Equality: The Enduring Constitutional Vision of the Warren Court (2019); The Free Speech Century (2018); Sex and the Constitution: Sex, Religion and Law from America’s Origins to the Twenty-First Century (2017); and Speaking Out: Reflections of Law, Liberty and Justice (2010, 2016, 2018). Stone was appointed by President Obama to serve on the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, which evaluated the government’s foreign intelligence surveillance programs in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks. Stone has also written amicus briefs for constitutional scholars in a number of Supreme Court cases, including Obergefell v. Hodges, Whole Woman’s Heath v. Hellerstadt, Lawrence v. Texas, United States v. Windsor, United States v. Stevens, and Rasul v. Bush.


NADINE STROSSEN (Sept. 25) is the John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law, Emerita at New York Law School. She has written, taught, and advocated extensively in the areas of constitutional law and civil liberties, including through frequent media interviews. From 1991 through 2008, she served as President of the American Civil Liberties Union, the first woman to head the nation’s largest and oldest civil liberties organization. Professor Strossen is currently a member of the ACLU’s National Advisory Council, as well as the Advisory Boards of EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center), FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), Heterodox Academy, and the National Coalition Against Censorship. Her book HATE: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship (2018) has been widely praised by ideologically diverse experts, including Harvard Professor Cornel West and Princeton Professor Robert George.  It was selected by Washington University as its 2019 “Common Read.” In 2017, the American Bar Association presented Professor Strossen with the prestigious Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, and The National Law Journal has named Professor Strossen one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.”


MARK THOMPSON (Oct. 13) was the CEO of The New York Times from November 2012 to July 2020. He directed the company’s strategy and presided over an expansion of its digital and global operations. Under his leadership, the Times successfully expanded into other digital products like Cooking and Crosswords, launched one of the world’s most successful podcasts and recently premiered “The Weekly,” a new TV news program for FX and Hulu. Before joining the Times Company, Mr. Thompson served as director-general of the BBC from 2004, where he reshaped the organization to meet the challenge of the digital age. Thompson joined the BBC in 1979 as a production trainee. He helped launch “Watchdog” and “Breakfast Time,” was an output editor on “Newsnight,” and was appointed editor of the “Nine O’Clock News” in 1988 and “Panorama” in 1990. He is the author of Enough Said: What’s Gone Wrong with the Language of Politics? (2016), which based on lectures he gave as a visiting professor at Oxford University. He was educated at Stonyhurst College and Merton College, Oxford.

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