29th April Encounters series. Join community members in critical small group discussion about the U.S. Constitution.

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Join community members in critical small group discussion about the U.S. Constitution.

The Encounters series is a public discussion program created by a partnership with the Hartford History Center at Hartford Public Library, UConn’s Humanities Institute, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. The partners provide discussion leaders to engage in topics aimed at strengthening our ability to know ourselves and one another through respectful and challenging dialogue.

For more information about the Encounters series visit our page.

Please read the U.S. Constitution prior to the event:

Hartford History Center
500 Main St, Hartford, Connecticut 06103

José Casanova on “Religious Conviction and Intellectual Humility in Public Life: Socio-Theological Reflections”, 4:00-5:30pm, April 21



Keynote Address

Jose CasanovaJosé Casanova, Georgetown University

Keynote address: 4:00-5:30pm, April 21st (reception to follow)

Religious Conviction and Intellectual Humility in Public Life: Socio-Theological Reflections

What does it mean to have a religious conviction in our global secular age? Why is it necessary that when we enter public life, even if motivated by deeply held religious convictions, our public interventions ought to be informed by intellectual humility? In addressing these questions I will proceed with the assumption that our age is characterized by profound religious, cultural and moral pluralism, that requires that we encounter the other with deep intellectual humility and respect. Precisely because not truths or convictions but persons have rights, each person has the inalienable right to seek the truth and to hold his/her convictions publicly. I will ground my reflections on the historical experiences of the Jesuits as pioneer globalizers in the early modern age, and on the deeds and words of the Jesuit Pope Francis.  The Jesuits combined a deep religious conviction as global missionaries with a peculiar openness, controversial at their time, to accommodate other cultures and to enter into deep intercultural encounters, what Pope Francis calls the “culture of the encounter.”

José Casanova is Professor of Sociology, Theology and Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University, where he heads the Program on Religion, Globalization, and the Secular. He is also a Professorial Fellow at Australian Catholic University, in Melbourne, where he directs a project on Asian/Pacific Catholicism and Globalization. Previously he served as Professor of Sociology at the New School for Social Research in New York and has held visiting appointments at numerous American and European universities. He has published widely in the areas of sociological theory, religion and politics, transnational migration, and globalization. His best-known work, Public Religions in the Modern World (Chicago, 1994) has become a modern classic in the field and has been translated into various languages, including Japanese, Arabic, and Turkish, and is forthcoming in Indonesian, Farsi, and Chinese. Presently he holds the Kluge Chair for Societies and Cultures of the Northern Hemisphere at the Library of Congress, where he is writing a book on “The Jesuits and Globalization.” He is also the recipient of the 2012 Salzburger Hochschulwochen Theological Prize.

April 11th, 2017. The Public Discourse Project Seminar: Ufuk Topkara (H&C Fellow, University of Paderborn)

Title: Wounded certainty: Is God dead or can we break through the barriers between theology and philosophy in Islam?

Time & Place: 4-5:30pm, Babbidge Library, 4th Floor, Room 4/209.

Abstract: Modern times have witnessed a severing of the linkages between scientific knowledge and Islamic theology, not least of all in the lived public sphere. A misperception or rather misconception of this severing as a “natural” divorce has been further promulgated.

This presentation will instead elaborate how a religious tradition can learn and grow through the challenges posed by philosophical reasoning, compelled to search for meaning of, and humility within, the human experience. By elucidating not only similarities but the actual integration of key philosophical ideas into the “mainstream” Islamic, one can encourage a rethinking of the widespread assumption that these traditions should be in conflict. At the end, these inquiries can introduce a new paradigm to Islamic-Philosophical Theology debates, in which the human subject—his/her shortcomings, hopes and anxieties—takes center stage.

March 28th, 2017. The Public Discourse Project Seminar: Robert Ingram (Ohio University)

Reformation Without End: Religion, Politics and the Past, Then and Now.
This talk considers polemical divinity in Enlightenment England and its potential relevance for public debate today. The talk explains why we should think of the English Enlightenment not as the first chapter in the story of secular modernity but rather as a late chapter in the story of the Reformation. In addition, it considers how conceiving of England’s Enlightenment in that way might help us to think differently about public discourse today.
Babbidge Library, 4th Floor, Room 4/209

February 28th, 2017. The Public Discourse Project Seminar: Maura Priest

Title: Epistemic Greed

Maura Priest

Abstract: My paper argues that epistemologists and ethicists have overlooked the importance of a dangerous vice (epistemic greed). I explain what this vice is and why it is a problem. In so doing my paper sheds light on the following questions: Is the behavior of epistemic elites, (a) really much different from billionaires discussing expensive wines on a millionaire dollar yacht, and (b) do epistemic elites have the same sort of (imperfect) obligation to share in their epistemic wealth as the rich have to share in their economic wealth?

Babbidge Library, 4th Floor, Room 4/209

February 14th, 2017. The Public Discourse Project Seminar: Catherine Elgin

Date & Location: February 14th, 2017, UCHI seminar room, Babbige 4th Floor.

Title: Deweyan Democratic Deliberation

Abstract: According to Dewey, democracy is not just a form of government: it is a way of life– a way of interacting with one another to promote our common ends and resolve our differences.  Democracy thus extends beyond the political arena into all areas where we reason and act together. The mode of deliberation proper to Deweyan democracy is non-adversarial. We should see those who disagree with us not as opponents to be bested in argument, but as resources whose diverging perspectives extend our epistemic range. To engage in democratic deliberation requires a variety virtues that are at once moral and epistemic.

January 24, 2017. The Public Discourse Project Seminar: Jordan Labouff

Date & Location: January 24, 2017, UCHI seminar room, Babbige 4th Floor.

Title: Humility and Helpfulness

Abstract: Dispositionally humble persons (i.e., people with characteristically low self-focus and a comfortably accurate perception of one’s strengths and limitations) may be more likely to sacrifice some of their limited resources to help others in need.  In several experimental studies we find that dispositional humility predicts willingness to help someone in need – particularly in situations where social pressure to help is low.  We will investigate several possible mechanisms by which humility may promote helpfulness, and explore mechanisms for promoting the development of humility and intellectual humility (e.g., education, perspective-taking exercises).

December 6, 2016. The Public Discourse Project Seminar: Lauren Barthold

Lauren Barthold

Date: 12/6

Time: 4:00

Babbdige Library 4th floor room   4/209 meeting

Title: Giving Birth in the Public Square: Dialogue as a Maieutic Practice

If we are living in a “post-fact” age, and if deliberation relies on facts, how are we to conceive of public discourse? Must one either futilely shout the facts louder and louder or else turn away from facts, and thus rational discourse, altogether? This paper initiates a way to conceive of public discourse that avoids the facts versus violence dilemma. I begin with a close reading of the opening scene of Plato’s Republic that, I claim,  demonstrates dialogue as a third way beyond force or rational persuasion. I then consider Allan Bloom’s and Hannah Arendt’s interpretations of the political relevance of Socratic dialogue. In concluding, I argueagainst Arendt that it is the tension between wonder and opinion lying at the heart of dialogue that renders dialogue a relevant political activity, one that connects us with others and in so doing creates a viable, pluralistic polis.



November 29, 2016. Public Discourse Project seminar, Paul Bloom

Paul Bloom (Psychology and Cognitive Science, Yale)

Location: UCHIm Babbidge Library, 4th Floor, Room 4/209
Title: Against Empathy

Many psychologists, philosophers, and laypeople believe that empathy is necessary for moral judgment and moral action-the only problem with empathyis that we sometimes don’t have enough of it. Drawing on research into psychopathy, criminal behavior, charitable giving, infant cognition, cognitive neuroscience, and Buddhist meditation practices, I’ll argue that this is mistaken. Empathy is a poor moral guide. It is biased, short-sighted, and innumerate-we should try to do without it. We are much better off, in both public policy and intimate relationships, drawing upon a combination of reason and distanced compassion.

More information

Indigenous Refusals of Settler-Capitalist Notions of Precarity and Aging: The Struggle for Indigenous Elsewheres – Sandy Grande

Tuesday, November 15th, 4-5:30pm
UCHI Seminar room (Babbidge Library, 4th Floor, Room 4/209)

Sandy Grande (Quechua) is a Professor of Education as well as the Director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) at Connecticut College.

This talk is part of the Political Theory Seminar Series.