State of Democracy

The State of Democracy Lecture Series provides a forum for meaningful discussions of significant public issues - both current and more enduring - which cut across traditional disciplinary boundaries. These discussions enable explorations of real-world challenges and foster continued discussion and debate.

We are fortunate to have one lecture per year sponsored by the Norman M. and Marsha Lee Berkman Fund.  Norman M. Berkman is a graduate of Syracuse University (’57 ) in Political Science. His wife, Marsha Lee, graduated from Northwestern University. They firmly believe that the State of Democracy Lecture Series that they sponsor serves as a valuable link in the political discourse between the university and the community and fosters understanding of significant contemporary issues.

All events begin at 4:00 PM in the Maxwell Auditorium and are followed by an open reception at 5:30, unless otherwise noted.  

2017-2018 Series

Past Events

November 3, 2017

Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen
Authors of Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign

What Really Happened: The Hillary Clinton Campaign, and Its Lessons


Amie Parnes is Senior Political Correspondent for The Hill, and a regular CNN political analyst. Jon Allen is a columnist for Roll Call, and an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. Together they wrote the #1 New York Times bestselling story of the Clinton campaign. The two will discuss their experiences covering the 2016 presidential election, speculate about some of the political lessons the election suggests, and reflect on the current political climate.

October 27, 2017

Mayor Stephanie Miner
City of Syracuse

Farewell Address: The Need for Reflection in a Hot-Take Culture

Stephanie Miner is completing her second and final term as Mayor of Syracuse. In this farewell address, she looks back on her tenure, draws lessons learned, and connects those experiences with a broader challenge facing our contemporary political culture.

October 6, 2017

Lori Ginzberg, Professor of History and Women's Studies
Penn State University

Rights and Racism: The Complex Legacies of Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady StantonRecognizing the centennial of women's suffrage in New York State, Lori Ginzberg will discuss her recent authored book, Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life. Known as a social activist and American suffragist, Elizabeth Cady Stanton [1815-1902] was a prominent figure in the early women's rights effort.

Professor Ginzberg's lecture will focus on the lessons Elizabeth Cady Stanton's life and work offer for modern feminism and democracy.

This lecture is made possible through a generous gift from the Norman M. and Marsha Lee Berkman fund.

2016-2017 Series

March 3, 2017

Stephen Macedo, Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics and University Center for Human Values

Princeton University

Author, Just Married: Same-Sex Couples, Monogamy, and the Future of Marriage.

No Slippery Slopes: Same-Sex Couples, Monogamy and the Future of Marriage

YouTube button Will same-sex marriage lead to more radical marriage reform? Should it? Some warn of a dramatically slippery slope from same-sex marriage toward legalizing polygamy and adult incest, and the dissolution of marriage as we know it; others embrace such changes. Professor Macedo argues that both sides are wrong: the same principles of democratic justice that demand marriage equality for same sex couples also lend support to monogamous marriage.

October 28, 2016

Aliya Saperstein, Professor of Sociology, Stanford University
Racial Mobility: The Dynamics of Race and Inequality in the United States

This lecture is made possible through a generous gift from the Norman M. and Marsha Lee Berkman fund.

YouTube button What is it that you know when you know someone’s race? Discussing the specifics makes many Americans uncomfortable, and there is little agreement on what researchers are trying to measure – skin color, ancestry, geography, culture, identity – with those race boxes we regularly ask people to check on forms and in surveys. Nevertheless, most studies of inequality in the United States assume that a person’s race is an input into our stratification system: a static, individual attribute that is ascribed at birth and helps to explain who accrues advantages or disadvantages throughout life. Professor Saperstein’s work demonstrates instead that race is both multi-dimensional and malleable: how Americans see racial difference has been shaped by centuries of discrimination and inequality, so a person’s race does not simply pre-date their upward or downward mobility; how we perceive each other and identify ourselves is also a result of those experiences. This “racial mobility” represents a vicious cycle between racial categorization and inequality that has important implications for both data collection and public policy. 

Aliya Saperstein is an assistant professor of sociology at Stanford University whose research focuses on the conceptualization and measurement of race/ethnicity and sex/gender, and their consequences for understanding social inequality. Her work has earned recognition from academic journals, research centers, and professional associations in sociology and demography, including the 2016 Early Achievement Award from the Population Association of America. Saperstein, a former Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, is currently completing a book manuscript on Racial Mobility.

September 9, 2016

Dean Strang
Humility in Criminal Justice: What it Would Invite us to Reconsider

As a lawyer for accused murderer and rapist Steven Avery in the hit Netflix documentary series “Making a Murderer,” Dean Strang emerged as one of the heroes of the story.  He will draw on that experience to discuss criminal justice, and will take questions from the audience about the case and the series.

Dean A. Strang is a lawyer in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition to his work as one of Steven Avery's trial lawyers, he is best known for his first book, "Worse Than the Devil: Anarchists, Clarence Darrow, and Justice in a Time of Terror." Mr. Strang served five years as Wisconsin’s first Federal Defender and cofounded StrangBradley, LLC. He is an adjunct professor at Marquette University Law School, the University of Wisconsin Law School, and University of Wisconsin's Division of Continuing Studies. Mr. Strang is a member of the American Law Institute and serves on several charity boards, including the Wisconsin Innocence Project. His second book will be published in early 2018.

2015-2016 Series

April 15, 2016

Larry Bartels and Chris Achen
Democracy for Realists

YouTube button Larry Bartels joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 2011. He is the Co-Director, Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions and the May Werthan Shayne Chair of Public Policy and Social Science. His scholarly work focuses on public opinion, electoral politics, public policy, and political representation. His 2008 book, Unequal Democracy, appeared on a New York Times list of “economics books of the year” and won the Gladys M. Kammerer Award for the year’s best book on U.S. national policy. He is also the author of Presidential Primaries and the Dynamics of Public Choice (1988), which won the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award for the year’s best book on government, politics, or international affairs, and co-editor of Mass Politics in Tough Times (with Nancy Bermeo, 2014) andCampaign Reform (with Lynn Vavreck, 2000). Bartels has served as vice president of the American Political Science Association and president of its Political Methodology section, chair of the Board of Overseers of the American National Election Studies, and founding director of Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Democratic Politics. He is currently a trustee of the Russell Sage Foundation and an occasional contributor to the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog. In 2014 he received the Warren E. Miller Prize for an outstanding career of intellectual accomplishment and service to the profession in the field of elections, public opinion, and voting behavior. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and the National Academy of Sciences.

Chris Achen is the Roger Williams Straus Professor of Social Sciences and Professor of Politics at Princeton University. Achen's research interest is Political Methodology, particularly in its application to empirical democratic theory, American Politics, and International Relations. He is the author of two books, Interpreting and Using Regression and The Statistical Analysis of Quasi-Experiments, co-author of a third, Cross-Level Inference, and co-editor of a fourth book, The European Union Decides. His next book is entitled Voter Turnout in Multi-Level Systems. Professor Achen was the first president of the Political Methodology Section of the American Political Science Association, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the National Science Foundation, and Princeton's Center for the Study of Democratic Politics. He received the first career achievement award from The Political Methodology Section of The American Political Science Association in 2007. He is also the recipient of an award from the University of Michigan for lifetime achievement in training graduate students.

March 4, 2016

Robert Grenier
From Kandahar to Aleppo:  Applying the Lessons of Afghanistan

This lecture is made possible through a generous gift from the Norman M. and Marsha Lee Berkman fund.

YouTube button A highly decorated twenty-seven year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Clandestine Service and a renowned expert on the Middle East, South Asia, and Counterterrorism, Mr. Grenier played a central leadership role in the greatest national security challenges of his time. When 9/11 struck, he was the CIA’s overseas Chief of Station for Pakistan and Afghanistan.  After preparing the original War Plan for U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, approved by President George W. Bush on September 24, 2001, Mr. Grenier went on to organize and direct the joint CIA/Special Forces teams which combined with Afghan militias under Hamid Karzai and Gul Agha Shirzai to drive the Taliban and al-Qa’ida from southern Afghanistan.

Later, as the U.S. prepared to invade Iraq, Mr. Grenier was brought back to Washington and named CIA Iraq Mission Manager, responsible for all CIA intelligence operations and analysis in that country, and representing CIA in all White House policy deliberations on Iraq for a two and a half year period. 

In the final two years of his CIA career, Mr. Grenier was Director of the CIA Counter-Terrorism Center, responsible for all CIA counterterrorism operations around the globe.  In 2006, he retired from CIA and went into the private sector.

Earlier, Mr. Grenier was deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia, and a special assistant to the Undersecretary of State.  He conceived and organized the CIA’s Counter-Proliferation Division, serving as its first Chief of Operations.  He also headed the “Farm,” CIA’s basic training facility, where he authored the Clandestine Service’s Code of Ethics.

Since leaving government, Mr. Grenier has become a recognized expert in global risk management, serving for three years as Chairman for Global Security Consulting at Kroll, Inc.  He is currently Chairman of ERG Partners, an investment bank providing financial advisory services for firms in the Intelligence and Security sector.

While pursuing a business career, Mr. Grenier has appeared widely in both U.S. and international media, including many appearances on ABC, NBC, CBS (including 60 Minutes), CNN, Fox, PBS (including Frontline), NatGeo, History Channel, Smithsonian, NPR, BBC, VOA, CBC, Al Jazeera English, and many others; he also has been interviewed in literally dozens of leading print publications around the world.  In addition, Mr. Grenier has been a featured speaker in the U.S, the Middle East, and India.  He has written over 90 Op-Eds for Al Jazeera English, for whom he also has been an on-air political commentator.  His book, 88 Days to Kandahar: A CIA Diary, was published by Simon and Schuster in January, 2015.

Mr. Grenier received an AB in Philosophy from Dartmouth College, and later did graduate studies in Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia.  He serves on several Boards, including the CIA Officers’ Memorial Foundation, which educates the children of CIA officers killed in the line of duty.  He is a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

November 6, 2015

Sidney Tarrow
Making and Opposing War in Peacetime: American Democracy After 9/11

YouTube button Sidney Tarrow is the Emeritus Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Government at Cornell University. Tarrow has his BA from Syracuse, his MA from Columbia, and his PhD from Berkeley. His work has covered a variety of interests, beginning with Italian communism (his first book was Peasant Communism in Southern Italy (Yale, 1967), then shifting to comparative communism in Communism in Italy and France (Princeton 1972, ed., with Donald L.M. Blackmer.

In the 1970s he made a long foray into comparative local politics (Between Center and Periphery, Yale 1978), before, in the 1980s, turning to a quantitative and qualitative reconstruction of Italian protest cycle of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, in Democracy and Disorder (Oxford, 1989), which received the prize for the best book in Collective Behavior and Social Movements from the American Sociological Association.

His most recent books are Transnational Protest and Global Activism (with Donatella della Porta, Rowman and Littlefield 2004), The New Transnational Activism (Cambridge 2005) and Contentious Politics(with Charles Tilly, Paradigm, 2006), Power in Movement (third edition, Cambridge, 2011), and Strangers at the Gates: States and Movements in Contentious Politics (Cambridge, 2012).

2014-2015 Series

March 20, 2015
The Politics of Inequality in the United States

How does growing inequality in income affect political equality in the United States? Join us for a discussion of the consequences of income inequality on American democracy.

YouTube button Martin Gilens, Princeton University

Christopher Faricy, Maxwell School, Political Science

Spencer Piston, Maxwell School, Political Science

Amy Ellen Schwartz, Maxwell School, Economics and Public Relations and International Affairs

February 13, 2015
Does Citizenship Require Sacrifice?

Almost everyone agrees that citizenship carries with it both rights and responsibilities.  But how far do the responsibilities extend?  Must individuals be willing to sacrifice something important in order to be good citizens?  Does good citizenship, rightly considered, necessarilyinvolve some kind of meaningful sacrifice?  Those questions are called here, among a panel of distinguished Maxwell School faculty with a wealth of varied personal, professional, and academic experiences related to the topic.

YouTube button Kristi Andersen, Chapple Family Professor of Citizenship and Democracy, Professor of Political Science

Walter Broadnax, Distinguished Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs  

Tina Nabatchi, Associate Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs  

Robert Rubinstein, Professor of Anthropology and International Relations  

Moderated by Grant Reeher, Director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute

November 14, 2014
Zephyr Teachout
Can American Democracy Survive Corruption?

YouTube button Zephyr Teachout is a Professor of Law at Fordham University.  An immensely talented and creative scholar, Professor Teachout brings a rich background in laws governing political behavior, both domestically and abroad, as well as the insights of her original work on corruption and its constitutional history.

Teachout is the former National Director for the Sunlight Foundation, and was the Director of Internet Organizing for Howard Dean's Presidential campaign. Most recently she ran against Andrew Cuomo for the 2014 Democratic Party nomination for Governor of New York. Teachout is a political consultant for nonprofits, political campaigns, and citizen journalism.  She is the author of Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin's Snuff Box to Citizens United.

This lecture is made possible through a generous gift from the Norman M. and Marsha Lee Berkman fund.

September 19, 2014
Joseph Carens
The Dispossessed: The Ethics of Refugee Policy

YouTube button Joseph H. Carens, Ph.D., is Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Culture, Citizenship, and Community, which won the 2002 C. B. Macpherson Award, and quality, Moral Incentives and the Market.  In his latest book,The Ethics of Immigration, Carens illuminates one of the most pressing issues of our time. Immigration poses practical problems or western democracies and also challenges the ways in which people in democracies think about citizenship and belonging, about rights and responsibilities, and about freedom and equality. 

This lecture is made possible through a generous gift from the Norman M. and Marsha Lee Berkman fund.

2013-2014 Series

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
The American Opportunity Agenda: Proposals to help more middle-class women gain financial security, by modernizing America's outdated workplace policies 

Madeleine M. Kunin, Former Vermont Governor
The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family

Richard Wolff, Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts
Can Democracy Cure Capitalism?

2012-2013 Series

Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK in Washington, DC
Acting on Faith: Networking, Religion, and Progressive Politics
This lecture is sponsored by the Norman M. and Marsha Lee Berkman Endowed Fund 

Thomas Mann, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Ira Shapiro, former senior Senate staffer and member of the Clinton administration
Can Politics Be Fixed?

Michael Kranish, author, historian, and Washington correspondent for The Boston Globe
The Real Romney

2011-2012 Series

Arthur Brooks, President, AEI
The Future of Conservatism
This Lecture Sponsored by Marilyn Morris Malmuth '51.

Jon Oberlander, Professor of Social Medicine and Health Policy & Management at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
The Future of Medicare

Jean Bethke Elshtain, Professor of Social and Political Ethics in the University of Chicago
Democracy on Trial Revisited

2010-2011 Series

Anne Kornblut, White House correspondent for The Washington Post and author of Notes from the Cracked Ceiling.

Roger Hardy, former Middle East and Islamic Affairs Analyst with the BBC World Service and author of The Muslim Revolt: A Journey Through Political Islam

Jon Trickett, is a Labour Member of Parliament, former Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former Mayor of Leeds.


2009-2010 Series

Laura Nader

Len Burman

Claudia Goldin

2008-2009 Series

The 2008-2009 series was sponsored by Betsy Levitt Cohn and Alan Cohn

Nancy Foner

Charles Murray

2007-2008 Series

Michael E. Toner

James Hunter

Irshad Manji 

2006-2007 Series

Jacob Hacker

Shibley Telhami

Thomas Mann

Deborah Stone

2005-2006 Series

Toby Moffett

Harvey C. Mansfield

2006 Constitution Day Lecture: Peter Schuck 

Thomas Carothers 

2004/2005 Series

Michele Moody-Adams

E.J. Dionne

Michael Walzer

2003/2004 Series

Jeffrey Rosen

Jonathan Schell

Kay Hymowitz