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Experts at inaugural ASU conference tackle campus free speech

February 25, 2018

School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership welcomes students, faculty and guests to discuss challenging topics

Arizona State University's School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership held its inaugural spring conferenceThe conference was co-sponsored by ASU’s Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Friday and Saturday on the Tempe campus. “Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity in Higher Education: Implications for American Society” welcomed students, faculty and experts from across the nation to discuss such topics as the meaning of the First Amendment on college campuses and free inquiry and intellectual diversity in higher education.

Robert Post, former dean of Yale Law School, opened Friday with a keynote address that looked at the classic interpretation of the First Amendment and what that means about how it should be interpreted on college campuses, where many feel free speech is currently under attack.

Post pointed out that within days of being confirmed, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos said that the real threat to modern universities is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree.

But, Post said, “if we’re going to assume the First Amendment applies on college campuses, we need to agree on what it protects” and what it doesn’t.

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Robert Post, Yale Law School professor and former dean, delivers the keynote address at the inaugural conference of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership on Feb. 23 at the Student Pavilion on ASU's Tempe campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Post laid out three basic rules that, in its most classical interpretation, ensure the First Amendment stands as a guardian to our democracy: 1) The state, in regulating speech, cannot engage in content or viewpoint discrimination. 2) All ideas are equal from the point of view of the government. 3) The state cannot compel you to speak or pledge allegiance to a particular government or candidate.

At a university, though, Post argued, people are not sovereign citizens; faculty, staff and students are all there to fulfill the function of the university, which is not to allow for airing of public opinion but to teach, to learn and to create knowledge. At universities, there is content discrimination — professors have to stick to whatever subject it is they’re there to teach, professors’ viewpoints have to be considered more valuable than students and individuals can be compelled to talk.

“So why are people talking about the First Amendment when they talk about free speech on college campuses?” Post asked. “What they have in mind are those aspects of the university in which its mission is most clouded,” such as when students invite an outside speaker — a sovereign citizen not beholden to the university’s mission — to speak on campus.

So how do we determine when and where free speech is applied on college campuses? It’s not black and white, Post said, but it is a discussion worth having, and schools such as SCETL are recognizing that and attempting to foster those kinds of discussions.

Students offer their perspective

Post’s keynote was followed by a student panel, which included remarks from ASU journalism students Gabriel Sandler and Tea Francesca Price on the question: Why do students need free speech on campus?

As a student at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Sandler covered much of the 2016 presidential election.

“It’s the responsibility of universities to promote and protect free speech,” Sandler said. “And ASU gave students the resources to elevate free speech in a time that really mattered both on and off campus.”

Price also praised the university, saying, “When you go to college, you’re going to be presented with perspectives that are very different from your own, so you need to learn effective communication. … It’s imperative to teach students that in college, if not earlier. ASU is the first place I’ve never felt limited to express myself freely.”

Matthew Foldi, a guest student speaker from the University of Chicago, shared an anecdote from his time with the school’s Students for Free Expression group to illustrate his opinion on the matter. He and others in the group, who held mostly conservative viewpoints, met with a member of the Black Lives Matter movement to learn more about the reasons behind his activism. What they discovered was they had more in common than they realized.

“The open exchange of ideas left everyone better off,” Foldi said.

Finally, Williams College student Zachary Wood talked about his role as president of the student group Uncomfortable Learning, whose mission it is to invite speakers with controversial views to campus.

“What we’re really trying to do is deepen our understanding of the world and humanity,” he said. “We can always gain something by thinking about perspectives that are unfamiliar to us.”

scetl conference

Around 200 people attended a student panel at the conference of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership on Feb. 23 at ASU's Tempe campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Experts weigh in on opinion diversity

Following the student panel were two faculty expert panels, “Free Inquiry and the Philosophy of Higher Education,” moderated by Rhodes College Professor Daniel Cullen, and “Intellectual Diversity and Higher Education: A Crisis?” moderated by University of Texas at Austin Professor Cristine Legare.

Panelists discussed topics that included the value of diversity, euphemism and dissent in free speech.

Legare, in introducing her panel, said, “One thing that’s useful as a first step in my classes is to teach students how to have a debate.”

All panelists agreed to some degree that introducing students to a range of perspectives and guiding them on how to respond is essential to a true education. The crisis, some said, lies in the fact that you can’t have a range of perspectives if universities are made up of majority liberal professors, which they agreed seems to be the case.

Professors make up “one of the most liberal occupations in the U.S.,” said panelist and Colby College Professor Neil Gross. “About 60 percent identify as either liberal or far left. Only 13 percent identify as conservative or far right.”

The solution to that, fellow panelist and University of Notre Dame Law School Professor Rick Garnett posited, is for universities to accept their role as a crucial part of the infrastructure of public discourse, allowing many voices and viewpoints to have a place to be heard.

Surprising plenary address on heckling

Friday’s events ended with a plenary address from Jeremy Waldron of New York University, which focused on heckling at universities.

Waldron speculated that although some may claim heckling, often seen in the form of shouting down a speaker so as to stop them from being heard, is a direct assault on free speech, it may actually be an exercise of free speech itself.

“Heckling interferes with a persons’ ability to convey their message,” he said. “The provocative thing I’m going to propose is that that is sometimes a good thing.”

In fact, heckling used to be common, acceptable behavior at public speeches. Nowadays, we see hecklers being immediately removed from the audience. Waldron wondered, why is it not as tolerated nowadays?

Some would say it’s an issue of public order, that it disturbs the peace and presages disorder and the chance for violence. But, Waldron said, we need to distinguish between disorder and disruption.

He pointed out that, as with most things in life, there is a spectrum, with disconcerting questions from audience members at the less obstructive end and whole groups of people shouting over a speaker at the more obstructive end. Along the spectrum, there are of course shades of gray.

“Disturbing the composure of a speaker … is sometimes a good thing,” Waldron reiterated. “The speaker must take his audience as he finds them … [the speaker] is not entitled to exclude dissident choruses.

“Even though heckling is impolite and discourteous, it can nevertheless advance the values of free speech.”

More from SCETL

The conference continued Saturday at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, with discussions such as “Negotiating Controversial Speakers on Campus,” “Freedom of Speech and Thought on Campus: What Role for the First Amendment?” and “State Legislative Remedies to Free Speech Challenges on Campus: Are They Consistent with Academic Freedom?”

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership’s free-speech series continues April 2 on the Tempe campus with Geoffrey Stone of the University of Chicago Law School giving an address titled “Free Speech on Campus: A Challenge of Our Times.”

Top photo: ASU journalism graduate student Gabriel Sandler (left) speaks on the topic, "Why Do Students Need Free Speech on Campus?" at the inaugural annual conference of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership on Feb. 23 at the Student Pavilion in Tempe. Around 200 people attended the two-day program that culminates a yearlong series of discussions on "Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity in Higher Education" and its implications for American society. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Emma Greguska

Reporter , ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

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Free-speech discussion at ASU highlights universities' responsibility to the pursuit of truth

"Point of a liberal education is not to hold up mirrors, it's to open windows."
February 12, 2018

Middlebury and Reed professors — who've dealt with ugly side of campus protests — argue why diverse viewpoints are so crucial

As recently as January of this year, yet another college was in an uproar over a controversial speaker when University of Chicago students, faculty and alumni demanded the school rescind its invitation to former Trump White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon to speak on campus.

In a discussion Monday night on Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus, Middlebury College Professor Allison Stanger said to do so would be to subvert the very purpose of higher education.

Middlebury College Professor

Allison Stanger

“It’s important that administrators stand up for the university’s core mission: the pursuit of truth,” she said, “and allowing that to take place rather than endorsing certain points of view.”

Reed College Assistant Professor Lucía Martínez Valdivia agreed with Stanger, adding that to deny certain people the right to speak on college campuses is to deny students the opportunity to learn.

Both Stanger and Martínez Valdivia were at ASU to partake in the fifth event in a yearlong series of lectures hosted by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership titled “Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity in Higher Education and American Society.” (Find details about an upcoming spring conference on the topic at the end of this story.)

The series, co-sponsored by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, began with a talk given by prominent First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams in September. At the time, Abrams said the one place free speech is most threatened now in the U.S. is the college campus.

Cronkite Associate Professor Joseph Russomanno, who moderated Monday evening’s discussion with Stanger and Martínez Valdivia, pointed out that they are two people who have lived that fact.

In March 2017, StangerAllison Stanger is the Russell Leng '60 Professor of International Politics and Economics at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont. suffered a concussion and other injuries as a result of a protest that broke out on Middlebury’s campus in response to a scheduled talk by libertarian author and political scientist Charles Murray, and Martínez ValdiviaLucía Martínez Valdivia is an assistant professor of English and the humanities at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. spent roughly a year lecturing in what she described as a hostile environment when students at Reed routinely hijacked her classroom to protest the content that was being taught (mostly Plato and Aristotle), which they deemed pro-white supremacist.

Both women went on to pen op-eds based on their experiences — Martínez Valdivia for the Washington Post and Stanger for the New York Times — but say they understand the legitimate emotions and real anger that led to them.

Reed College Assistant Professor

Lucía Martínez Valdivia

“With the election of Donald Trump, there’s a sense among students of disenfranchisement, disempowerment … that they’ve never experienced before,” Martínez Valdivia said, especially for a generation that grew up during the Obama administration.

She reported seeing students at her school self-segregating as a result, creating closed spaces where only some are allowed to speak or even listen. That kind of behavior, she said, stems from a rising fear surrounding current rhetoric and the power of words.

And a lot of students nowadays don’t understand just what is and isn’t protected by free speech, as Martínez Valdivia has discovered. Many of her students believe hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment.

“That’s not the case,” she said. “Hate speech is absolutely protected. That doesn’t make it right, but it is absolutely [protected]. And once you start censoring, that is a very slippery slope.”

A slippery slope that can lead to infringing on the rights of others to be heard, Stanger pointed out. And unfortunately, the actions of students at Middlebury, Reed and other colleges around the country did just that, essentially bringing about the opposite of what they were trying to accomplish, she said.

During a question-and-answer session that followed the discussion, journalism undergraduate Ariel Salk asked the women what might be a better way for students to channel their frustrations.

Stanger agreed with Martínez Valdivia that leading by example is a good start, but it’s also about teaching students “how to fight back with words, how to formulate killer questions. … I think having a really great argumentative technique is going to serve you much better than some other protest techniques. Not that protest isn’t important, but knowing how to reason and argue is also important.”

Getting students out of their comfort zones and forcing them to think differently is something both professors say they try to do in their classrooms.

“I tell all my students on the first day of class: if you’re comfortable, I’m not doing my job,” Martínez Valdivia said. “The point of a liberal education is not to hold up mirrors, it’s to open windows.”

Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity in Higher Education: Implications for American Society

What: The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, in partnership with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, hosts a spring 2018 conference featuring a range of engaged thinkers.

When: Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23 and 24.

Where: Tempe (Friday) and Downtown Phoenix (Saturday) campuses.

Details: Continuing Legal Education Credit is available with this event. Find panel and registration information at ASU Events.

Top photo: Reed College Professor Lucía Martínez Valdivia (right) joins Middlebury College Professor Allison Stanger and moderator Joseph Russomanno, an associate professor at the Cronkite School, in addressing the topic "Speech on Campus: When Protests Turn Extreme" at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication on Monday evening. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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ASU launches 'Thought Huddle' podcast with discussion on Hamilton

February 8, 2018

New series will tell stories, provide in-depth look at a range of compelling topics

In a just-launched podcast series, listeners will hear that "one of the reasons Alexander Hamilton is so interesting for the 21st century is that he was a communications genius."

This — from Professor Paul Carrese, director of Arizona State University's School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership — is one of many intriguing observations in the first episode of "Thought Huddle," a new production from ASU Now.

Here's another from Yale Professor Joanne Freeman: Hamilton, born in the West Indies, "sort of beams into the North American continent, the new American nation, out of nowhere." Describing him as an upstart, she said he "operated on a very high wire without a safety net."

"Thought Huddle" will highlight thinkers and doers who are devoted to creating meaningful impact. Each episode will explore big ideas, tell stories and help make sense of our complicated world. Each will be composed of three segments.

The podcasts will offer a mix in approach. Some will be in-depth conversations with a single expert, while others will draw on a collection of different voices to explore a topic. In the first episode on Hamilton, timed for the musical's run at ASU Gammage, listeners will also hear from the theater's executive director, Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, and Kirk Ellis, the writer of the HBO miniseries "John Adams."  

The first three episodes illustrate the range of inquiry: first, Alexander Hamilton — the man, the nation builder and the musical; then, innovative research into chemicals in the environment and opioid monitoring; and finally, a look at diverse sustainability efforts in urban settings.

Hosted by veteran radio broadcaster Mary-Charlotte Domandi, the podcast has been created to give listeners from both the ASU community and the general public insight into compelling subjects that deserve extended, thoughtful discussion.

Find this and future episodes at

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2 professors, political opposites, urge concept of 'civic friendship'

Two professors, political opposites, visit ASU to talk about civic friendship.
January 28, 2018

Cornel West, Robert George say at ASU talk that students must challenge their beliefs

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. Read more top stories from 2018 here.

Going to college should be an unsettling experience.

University students should be challenging their closely held beliefs in the classroom and among their friends, even when it’s uncomfortable, according to two prominent intellectuals who agree on that point even though they are political opposites.

Robert George, a professor at Princeton University, and Cornel West, a professor at Harvard University, visited Arizona State University on Friday to give a talkThe event was co-sponsored by the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. It is the first 2018 event in the series, “Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity in Higher Education and American Society.” titled “Truth-Seeking and Freedom of Expression,” sponsored by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

West, who describes himself as a “radical Democrat and socialist,” told the crowd at the Student Pavilion in Tempe: “If while you’re here you haven’t realized for a moment that your worldview rests on pudding, then you haven’t been educated.”

George, a conservative, agreed: “If your experience at ASU … from your friendship circle, in your classes, from your professors and from your readings is one of constantly being reaffirmed in what you already believe … then you’re not being educated.”

Video by Jamie Ell/ASU Now

The value of differing opinions

Challenging one’s own beliefs is crucial to maintaining a democracy, said the two men, who are close friends.

“You can’t get at the truth — you just can’t — whether it’s the truth about physics or biology or politics or justice or human rights, if you’re unwilling to expose your beliefs to criticism,” George said.

That means listening to the views of people you disagree with, he said.

Last year, the two professorsGeorge is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. West is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy in the Divinity School and the Department of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University. became alarmed at the protests breaking out on college campuses over speakers. In March, several dozen students at Middlebury College in Vermont shouted down a speech by Charles Murray, who had been invited to talk by a conservative student group. After the talk, several protesters began pushing Murray and a Middlebury professor, who suffered a concussion.

Shortly after the Middlebury incident, West and George published a public statement in support of “Truth Seeking, Democracy, and Freedom of Thought and Expression.” Their statement rejects what they said was an effort “to immunize from criticism opinions that happen to be dominant in their particular communities” and to exclude certain topics of discussion by “questioning the motives and thus stigmatizing those who dissent from prevailing opinions.”

The two are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. West has called himself a “non-Marxist socialist” and has been harshly critical of President Barack Obama. George is a past chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage and policies that allow transgender people to use bathrooms that accord with their gender identity.

At ASU on Friday, the two men acknowledged that the country is in the throes of factionalism and Americans need to embrace the concept of “civic friendship.”

Paul Carrese (left), founding director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, moderated the talk by Robert George (center) and Cornel West. Carrese said the two professors' statement last year on freedom of expression on college campuses was an inspiration for his school's lecture series. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

“The sense of civic friendship is, ‘I’m here because something bigger than me is using me' — love of truth and a beauty that’s soul-stirring,” West said.

“It’s important that people exemplify in such a bleak moment in our civilization that love and friendship is not reduced to politics and policy.”

George said the country is being tested.

“It’s a special challenge today because our differences are so deep that they go to fundamental questions of justice, the common good, human rights and right and wrong,” he said.

“What do we share? One thing is the belief in self-government itself. But that’s not enough. We had better share a belief in civil rights and civil liberties.

“I would think we would share belief in freedom of speech and the need to treat each other with respect even when we disagree,” he said.

Taking lessons from the past

Earlier in the day, West and George spoke to several undergraduates in the class “Federalists, Anti-Federalists, and the Enduring Debate over American Constitutionalism,” taught by Zachary German, an assistant professor in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

George asked the students to consider Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.".

“Why was he willing to fight the war at a nearly incalculable cost of treasure and blood?” George asked. “Lincoln was talking about the preservation of Republican government ... government by the people.”

Lincoln understood that Republican government was an experiment that had already failed every time it was tried.

“‘Shall not perish from the earth’ indicates that Lincoln believed that if it failed in the United States, all mankind henceforth and forevermore would take that as the lesson that human beings are not fit to govern themselves,” George said.

West told the students that it was slavery as an economic system that allowed the United States to experiment with democracy.

“This very fragile democratic experiment begins with tremendous, overwhelming obstacles and yet begins to generate unbelievable possibilities. People around the world were invoking the Declaration of Independence, invoking the Constitution.”

West said that Huey Newton, head of the Black Panther Party, used to read the Declaration of Independence aloud in public.

“He’s reading the words of a slaveholder. He’s a descendant of slaves. But he sees in that document a spirit that stays in contact with the dignity of ordinary people.”

What was unique about the United States’ system of government was that the Founding Fathers built in the possibility for change.

“If the Constitution had been frozen and petrified, we’d be in a lot of trouble,” West said. “But the 13th Amendment abolished slavery. We can grow and mature.”

For more information on events by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, click here.

Top photo: Professors Cornel West (right) and Robert George spoke about civic friendship at the Student Pavilion on the Tempe campus Friday in a talk titled "Truth-Seeking and Freedom of Expression." Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU adds 2 signed books by Martin Luther King Jr. to archive

Historical texts to be part of wider community collaboration

January 22, 2018

This month, Arizona State University added two significant, historical texts to its archive.

Under the guidance of Paul Carrese, director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, with funds allocated by the Arizona State Legislature and approved by the ASU President's Office, the school purchased signed, first-edition copies of "Stride Toward Freedom," Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1958 memoir of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and "Strength to Love," a collection of his sermons published in 1963. Students view signed copies of Martin Luther King Jr. Strength to Love Stride Toward Freedom Students and faculty gather at the library to view signed, first-edition books by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Download Full Image

This acquisition is part of the school's larger project to provide ASU faculty and programs with the opportunity to educate and inspire the university community and the broader public about the extraordinary contributions of figures in American history.

According to Carrese, "each text holds a crucial place in a basic civic education for serious citizens and those who aspire to be leaders in public affairs or civil society."

To evaluate the King books and advise on their purchase, Carrese enlisted the expertise of Lorrie McAllister, associate university librarian for collection services and analysis; Matt Delmont, director of the School of Historical, Political and Religious Studies; and Keith Miller, interim director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy.

Carrese knew early on that he wanted to include work from King in acquisitions by the school. He said King was an extraordinary leader because in spite of injustice, he still believed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, quoting them frequently in speeches and sermons.

“He demanded that American political leaders finally live up to the promises of equal justice those great documents embodied," Carrese said. "This belief in the foundational principles of our democratic republic blended with a reasonable but persistent argument for reform is an inspiring example of civic thought and leadership that our school is very proud to showcase."

While adding these significant books to the university archive is motivation in itself for this kind of purchase, Carrese — along with Associate Director of Public Programs Carol McNamara — is committed to keeping them dusted off and circulating outside of the archive through interdisciplinary public programming.

To Carrese and his team, as well as the Hayden librarians responsible for stewardship of the archive, the books are rare and valuable as historical objects, but they are most valuable when we engage with them. To that end, Carrese worked with library staff and Delmont to arrange a reception for the inaugural presentation of the books during the week commemorating Martin Luther King’s birthday.

MORE: ASU events show MLK's contemporary relevance

About 40 people gathered at Hayden Library on Jan. 17 to mark the arrival of the texts and hear from Delmont about King's legacy in Arizona. Delmont described the book acquisition as an important stage in the relationship between Arizona and King — a relationship which dates back to a speech King gave at ASU in 1964 at the invitation of the Maricopa County NAACP.

Faced with opposition from people who felt King was too controversial, then ASU President G. Homer Durham appealed to the Board of Regents by claiming that the university would be negligent in its duty to educate unless it was "engaged in examining unpopular ideas." 

Delmont emphasized that King was an extremely controversial figure. His views on communism and the Vietnam War were unpopular and he was widely criticized, particularly in the last years of his life. If alive today, Delmont argues that King would not fit neatly into contemporary discourse about race and equality.

"There is something about King as a martyr that makes him a more comfortable figure to grapple with," Delmont said. "But, King should make us uncomfortable."

Delmont urged the audience to engage with the texts in their entirety — not just as memes and soundbites. Because King’s writing was intended to be delivered as sermons and speeches, extracting quotes from the larger context of his work limits our ability to understand the depth and history of his role as leader in a very long and hard-fought movement for civil rights.

Delmont described King as an effective and forward-looking leader, explaining that he was unencumbered by the short-term demands of elected public office and unrestricted by party lines. Rather than thinking in term limits, he asked his congregations and the millions of people he helped to mobilize, "Where will we be generations from now?"

Although King is arguably the most recognizable face of the civil rights movement, Delmont cautioned against honoring his legacy as an individual at the expense of recognizing the long grassroots civil rights movement that elevated him, noting that while he is an extremely important figure, a day to honor his memory would be incomplete without remembering the 250,000 black people who made their way to the Lincoln Memorial to see him speak, and the thousands of others who fought for decades to bring the movement to a head.

Delmont reminded the audience, "it’s not about him, it's about we."

 If you are interested in arranging a presentation of these or other archived texts, or you would like to schedule an appointment to view the texts, email

Ty Fishkind

Communications specialist, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership


Hamilton High School students visit ASU to talk leadership, higher ed, The Federalist

November 27, 2017

On Nov. 17, 30 members of student government from Hamilton High School in Chandler visited Arizona State University's Tempe campus for a full day of leadership education inspired by their teacher-sponsor, Violet Richard, and made possible by Access ASU.

After touring the campus, meeting with the Leadership Society and Changemaker Central, and exploring undergraduate student government opportunities, the students ended their trip in a small second-floor room in Hayden Library, where rare books librarian Katherine Krzys weaved through the tightly-packed chairs holding a small text opened to a brittle, yellowing title page. Hamilton High Views the Federalist Students from Hamilton High School get up close with a first edition copy of The Federalist. Download Full Image

The students were there for a close look at The Federalist, the collection of 85 essays penned by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay to support the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. This isn’t just any version of The Federalist — it is a first edition copy, published in 1788 and one of the first 500 ever printed. Originally, it would have been cheaply and quickly distributed, and made accessible to the American public just before the U.S. Constitution was ratified. 

The high school students, all elected members of leadership at Hamilton, range from 14- to 18-years-old and have grown up with access to entire libraries on devices barely thicker than credit cards. They can answer complex research questions in seconds with Google, and they can graduate high school and earn degrees without ever leaving their houses. When asked what dollar bill Alexander Hamilton appears on, no one could answer. They don’t really use paper money.

So what does a tattered, 230-year-old relic have to teach them, and why should they care? That is the question School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership Professor Zachary German set out to answer in his 20-minute session with the group.

"If Lin-Manuel Miranda can brilliantly compensate for my lack of ability to write and perform rap music, perhaps we can compensate for his lack of attention to The Federalist," German said.

He went on to quote Thomas Jefferson, who famously wrote in a letter to Virginia politician Thomas Mann Randolph: "Descending from theory to practice, there is no better book than The Federalist." 

German focused on why The Federalist is relevant, and what we can learn from it. He emphasized lines from Federalist Paper No. 10, in which Madison acknowledges the responsibility of the government to protect citizens from unchecked power, writing, “Enlightened statesmen may not always be at the helm.”

When a student asked German which of the papers was his favorite, he quoted from Federalist Paper No. 37, in which Madison points out how difficult it is to arrive at a Constitution upon which all parties can agree. He explains that the framers’ priority was to establish a political structure that would function in spite of ideological differences, or rather, because of them, in the interest of establishing strong national character.

The Q&A session that followed ended with a question from junior representative Ryan Gentry, who asked, “How can we use lessons from The Federalist in our own community?”

The answer came from School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership Director Paul Carrese, who left the student government class with this final message: strong leadership demands civility, compromise, moderation and the establishment of common ground.

Later, commenting on the conversation and first edition text, Gentry said, "the tattered pages and the aura has plucked something down deep.” He called the symbolism of the book “really powerful” and something that “young people don’t often connect with.”

After the room cleared out, Krzys, who had guarded The Federalist as students stood with it to snap selfies and group photos, put on a pair of white art-handling gloves and prepared to return the rare book to the archive.

When asked to describe why these old books seem to resonate with students, she said that people get excited about going to back to original sources. She teaches a course on the history of books and said that her co-teacher says it best in his opening remarks to the class.

“100 years from now,” Krzys said, quoting her colleague, “we will know more about the Renaissance than we will about the last 100 years. Everything is so ephemeral now.”

She said that old books matter in part because they have survived, and that alone is a testimony to their value. 

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, an academic unit in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has plans to use The Federalist and other rare texts in events supporting a Great Books program, in which students study works of important political, economic and civic thought, in preparation to become engaged leaders in both government and the private sector. The Federalist will be on display during the 2018 tour of "Hamilton" at ASU Gammage, where thousands of people in the community will have the opportunity to see and learn more about the text and its role in U.S. history. 

To arrange a viewing of The Federalist, or to coordinate a presentation of other archived materials, contact the Luhrs Reading Room at

Ty Fishkind

Communications specialist, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership


ASU In the News

Licenses to kill opportunity

More than ever, the government requires Americans to get permission to earn a living. In the 1950s, 1 in 20 workers needed a license to work; now about 1 in 4 do. The rules hurt the working poor in particular, but everyone suffers in states with the most licensing requirements, as a new and comprehensive report by the Institute for Justice illustrates.

The cost and time to obtain a license is no accident, as professional guild members sit on state licensing boards and reinforce the racket. They want to limit competition to keep prices high. PHOTO: ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES

In February an Arizona board targeted a cosmetology student who dared to give free haircuts to the homeless. He risked being barred from the profession until Gov. Doug Ducey interceded.

Stiff licensing requirements are often prohibitive for America’s working poor, keeping them trapped in low-wage, low-skill jobs. Many states also bar people with a criminal record from working in a licensed profession. Society pays the price. Researchers at Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Economic Liberty found that in states with burdensome licensing requirements, recidivism rates increased by more than 9% over a 10-year span. In states where it was easier to get a license, the rates went down.

That signals political potential for reform. Giving the poor a pathway to a dignified, self-supporting life should be a bipartisan priority.

Article Source: Wall Street Journal

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

ASU director joins roundtable to discuss need for moderation in politics, public life

School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership's Paul Carrese contributes to an ongoing dialogue about the need for moderation in liberal democracy

November 17, 2017

Paul Carrese, director of Arizona State University's School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, joined a roundtable discussion at the 49th Annual Northeastern Political Science Association Conference held Nov. 9–11 in Philadelphia to discuss Aurelian Craiutu’s book, "Faces of Moderation: The Art of Balance in an Age of Extremes."

The roundtable was an “Author Meets Critics” session that brought Carrese alongside Craiutu to discuss what it means to be a moderate voice in both politics and public life. Other participants included Murray Bessette, director of Academic Programs at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation; Bryan-Paul Frost, political science professor at the University of Louisiana Lafayette; and Dan Mahoney, political science professor at Assumption College. Aurelian Craiutu Faces of Moderation Download Full Image

In "Faces of Moderation," Craiutu examines the work of multiple prominent twentieth-century political thinkers, addressing both the strengths and limitations of moderation in the face of political binaries and extremes — especially fascism and communism. Craiutu applies these lessons to liberal democracies today, which face a new kind of extremism in our polarized and angry politics. 

Craitu, Carrese and other participants addressed the inconsistencies between the extremism of campaign rhetoric with the moderation necessary to effectively legislate once elected, by brokering compromises across party lines. In fact, our constitutional system of separation of powers and federalism was designed to mitigate extremes and reward moderation by pushing parties and individual politicians to moderate their rhetoric and actions given the need to negotiate and conciliate in a complex political system.

The panelists discussed why our universities don’t emphasize these ideas, and how to balance a commitment to fundamental truths and values with the importance of avoiding polarization and extremism. 

Carrese has published extensively on the importance of balance and restraint in a representative democracy, including his 2016 book, "Democracy in Moderation: Montesquieu, Tocqueville, and Sustainable Liberalism," which describes liberal democracy as fundamentally rooted in the avoidance of extremes. According to Carrese, moderation is a means for “coping with the complexity of the world” in a way that reconciles important principles and seeks a golden mean, without being reduced to polarization and ideological strong-arming.  

Both Craiutu’s and Carrese’s books on the subject are available in print or as e-books.

"Democracy in Moderation" has received prominent reviews published by Real Clear Politics, The Claremont Institute, and The Public Discourse

"Faces of Moderation" has been reviewed by David Brooks and Peter Wehner for the New York Times, and by the Wall Street Journal. 

Ty Fishkind

Communications specialist, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership


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NYU prof speaks on need to restore viewpoint diversity in higher education

American higher education is a sinking ship, says Jonathan Haidt.
November 9, 2017

Comparing higher education in America to the Titanic is a risky move when you’re speaking to a crowd of college students and professors, but that’s exactly what Jonathan Haidt did Thursday evening at Arizona State University.

Referring to what he views as an alarming decline in diversity of viewpoints on college campuses across the nation, the New York Times best-selling author of “The Righteous Mind” said, “This is an extremely dangerous situation for higher education. American higher education could be a sinking ship.”

Haidt visited ASU’s Tempe campus to contribute to an ongoing discussion about free speech on campus with his talk, “America's Escalating Outrage: Why Is it Happening, What Does It Do to Colleges and How Can We Reverse It?”

The talk marked the final event of the fall 2017 semester series “Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity in Higher Education and American Society,” sponsored by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, and co-sponsored by the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

The series continues Jan. 26, 2018, with a visit from Robby P. George (Princeton University) and Cornel West (Harvard University) for a dialogue about free speech.

Haidt, a social psychologist and the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business, conducts research on morality, its emotional foundations, cultural variations and developmental course.

“There’s been a sea change in the academy in the last two or three years,” he told the audience Thursday. “It’s like someone reached in and changed the way we interact with each other.”

The ratio of professors who identify as left- vs. right-leaning has skyrocketed in recent years, with a 2016 poll putting it at 17 to 1. According to Haidt, that’s “a terrible state of affairs” as it affects research and civil discourse.

When you’re not challenged by different viewpoints, he said, “You get stupid. You get lazy. You believe things dogmatically.”

The co-founder of Heterodox Academy, “a politically diverse group of social scientists, natural scientists, humanists and other scholars who want to improve … academic disciplines and universities,” Haidt said the trend on college campuses is a reflection of the culture war that has dominated American politics of late.

“America had the weirdest political season in history,” he said. And it all began around 2014, thanks in large part to social media and the ease with which fake news and propaganda flow there. And as incendiary as those headlines can be, we love to read them — it’s neurological.

“The more angry you are, the more pleasing it is to read fake news,” even if you might doubt it, Haidt said. This all goes back to fundamental human nature. We’ve evolved to be tribal, to align with one side or another. We see it most obviously in the passionate sports fan.

But sometimes passion can be dangerous. As passions rise, Haidt explained, so does the ability to believe the worst about the other side. What has resulted in America is a deeply divided nation, in which both sides believe so fiercely in their convictions that they view the other side as not just wrong but fundamentally evil.

That division has reared its ugly head in academic institutions, which have become so left-leaning that even professors who identify as liberal report feeling as though they have to walk on eggshells so as not to offend students lest they cry, “Microaggression!”

“That is one of the worst ideas ever to come out of psychology,” Haidt said. “It has no scientific validity.”

What’s worse, it creates an environment where nobody learns anything.

“What is a safe space?” he continued. “It’s a way of saying, ‘No collisions, because that would hurt people.’ No, it helps them grow. Without collisions, what are you doing in college?”

It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though. Haidt believes there are things those in academia can do to foster an environment where students are taken out of their comfort zone and challenged to think in order to grow. Namely, welcome and seek out viewpoint diversity and don’t be so quick to judge.

“Give the most charitable reading of what others say and do,” he said. “This is what’s disappeared from the classroom. Don’t look for ways to be offended. If we do that, we can actually talk to each other.”

Haidt ended his talk with an invitation to visit his website,, where you can take a survey to get insight into your own sense of morality, and you can take the “outrage reduction pledge”: 1) I will give less offense 2) I will take less offense 3) I will pass on less offense.

Video by Jamie Ell/ASU Now

Top photo: Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist and the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business, talks about political discord within society at ASU's Student Pavilion on Thursday. Haidt says that as passions rise, groups believe the opposing sides to be getting worse and worse. The solution is to encourage listening and understanding opposing viewpoints. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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The truth about our Founding Fathers

Panel: Putting historical figures on pedestals can be detrimental to progress.
October 18, 2017

ASU talk with author Nancy Isenberg reveals importance of true understanding of history — and how Burr was a lot more than that duel

The unexpected success of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway hit “Hamilton” went a long way to rekindle Americans’ interest in the story of our nation’s founders.

At the center of the musical was the legendary rivalry between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Their volatile relationship and the wider drama surrounding America’s founding served as the basis of a lively discussion Wednesday night at ASU Gammage in Tempe.

The audience was welcomed by Paul Carrese, professor and director of Arizona State University’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership (SCETL), who promised the topics discussed would “reveal how the controversies and drama of our founding era” — such as vitriolic rhetoric, issues of truth in the press and questionable dealings with foreign powers—  are still relevant to politics today.

Related: Paul Carrese on civility, in 60 seconds

The panel included SCETL Professor of Practice and noted Hamilton scholar Peter McNamara and Nancy Isenberg, author of “Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr” and the T. Harry Williams Professor in American History at Louisiana State University. 

Though they differed on certain points, there was one thing the pair whole-heartedly agreed on: There are many misconceptions in our modern-day understanding of Hamilton and Burr as individuals, as well as their relationship.

Hamilton, thanks in large part to the craze created by the musical, is nowadays often revered as an infallible hero. But in his time, he was known for being controversial, prickly and even vain.

His popularity waxed and waned after his death, rising after the Civil War because of his emphasis on support of manufacturers and the union, and falling when FDR (who favored fellow Founding Father Thomas Jefferson) came to power. In the 1970s and '80s, Jefferson fell out of favor due to race issues, and Hamilton was back on the uptick, with Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography and Miranda’s soon-to-follow Broadway show solidifying his position in current popular culture.

“Hamilton has had a roller-coaster experience with his reputation,” McNamara said.

Burr, on the other hand, maintained a more steady public awareness, albeit not without its inaccuracies. Part of the reason for that is there has been much more fiction than fact written about him, with claims that he lacked character or was somehow less noble or moral than his contemporaries resulting in him being relegated to the role of the “American Judas” or “bad boy” of the founders, Isenberg said.

“To rely on Hamilton’s opinion of Burr is like relying on Ken Starr’s opinion of Clinton,” she said, when in actuality, Burr was a feminist who fought for the rights of immigrants, worked to reform voting rights at the state level and advocated for more transparency in the Senate.

Burr also “introduced a series of innovations we now take as givens,” Isenberg said. He collected data on voters and their issues of concern, he went to polls and gave speeches and, most importantly, he wrote the charter for the earliest predecessor of JPMorgan Chase, insisting it provide loans to lower-income citizens.

Hamilton also left behind institutions that are still here today and still work, McNamara said, including Bank of New York, the Coast Guard and the U.S. Treasury. Not to be forgotten are his numerous writings, including “The Federalist,” a first edition of which ASU has acquired and which attendees at Wednesday night’s discussion were able to observe on display.

And the famous duel? Also riddled with historical inaccuracies.

There are several outlandish theories as to what could possibly prompt two well-respected and educated figures to come to arms — including one in which Hamilton was rumored to have had a sexual desire for Burr, resorting to the duel as a death wish — but it’s really quite simple:

“Dueling was a common aristocratic practice back then in Europe and in the military,” Isenberg said. In America, it was a way to defend your reputation and move up the pecking order “in a world where one’s class identity was not as secure as in Europe.”

There are also rumors about whether Hamilton meant to throw away his shot, or even did return fire.

“Who knows [what really happened]?” McNamara said. Any way you look at it, it was unfortunate.

“They clashed and clashed and clashed,” he said. “[They both] said they liked each other, but what drove them apart was politics. And it was a real mistake on Burr’s part to shoot Hamilton … for more than one reason.”

As for the accuracy of Miranda’s “Hamilton,” Isenberg and McNamara feel that despite some historical inaccuracies, it did a great job of capturing the feel and emotion of the events it portrays. However, Isenberg cautions against the temptation to put any historical figure on a pedestal.

It may make us feel good about the past, but it doesn’t really engage the true history, she said. And though we may feel the urge to make our Founding Fathers into demigods who represent all that is good about America because they embody our origin story, we would do better to try to understand them in the context of their time; not as role models or geniuses, but as men who had to make difficult decisions to solve problems.

“If we understand that,” Isenberg said, “we can better understand the problems we face today.”

Top photo: Author Nancy Isenberg and ASU Professor of Practice Peter McNamara discuss Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton on Wednesday evening at ASU Gammage. Isenberg is the author of "Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr," and McNamara is part of ASU's School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, who specializes in the history of Alexander Hamilton. Photo by Anya Magnuson/ASU 

Emma Greguska

Reporter , ASU Now

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