Fall 2014 Stanford Political Theory Workshop

September 10th, 2014 § 0

 

 

Joshua Cohen and I will serve as conveners of the 2014-15 Political Theory Workshop at Stanford University.  We have a terrific line-up of local and visiting scholars.  Detailed information about the workshop and archives of previous guests available at http://politicaltheory.stanford.edu

This quarter we’ll host:

Jason Stanley (Philosophy, Yale University)

Christopher Lebron (Philosophy, African American Studies, Yale)

Lisa Herzog (Ethics in Society, Stanford)

Josiah Ober (Political Science, Classics, Stanford)

Megan Blomfield (Ethics in Society, Stanford)

Ryan Pevnick (Politics, NYU)

Adam Sandel (Social Studies, Harvard)

Seana Shiffrin (Philosophy, Law, UCLA)

Fall 2014 Flyer

 

 

 

 

 

On Private Giving to Public Schools

September 5th, 2013 § 1

Glamorous and lucrative school auctions to support wealthy suburban schools have become a stock feature of popular writing about Silicon Valley. David Kaplan opened his 1999 book, The Silicon Boys, with an account of the over-the-top excesses of the annual charity auction of the Woodside School Foundation.  And George Packer’s recent article in the New Yorker updated the scene:

The Woodside School Foundation now brings in about two million dollars a year for a school with fewer than five hundred children, and every spring it hosts a gala with a live auction. I attended it two years ago, when the theme was RockStar, and one of Google’s first employees sat at my table after performing in a pickup band called Parental Indiscretion. School benefactors, dressed up as Tina Turner or Jimmy Page, and consuming Jump’n Jack Flash hanger steaks, bid thirteen thousand dollars for Pimp My Hog! (“Ride through town in your very own customized 1996 Harley Davidson XLH1200C Sportster”) and twenty thousand for a tour of the Japanese gardens on the estate of Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle and the country’s highest-paid chief executive. The climax arrived when a Mad Men Supper Club dinner for sixteen guests—which promised to transport couples back to a time when local residents lived in two-thousand-square-foot houses—sold for forty-three thousand dollars.

Were Woodside an anomaly, it would be easier to ignore the phenomenal amount of private giving to public schools. In an op-ed in the New York Times, Not Very Giving, I chose the Hillsborough Schools Foundation as an example of the trend. (Its 2012 Live Auction Catalogue is really quite something.) And it would be easy to point to similarly outsized fundraising efforts by local school foundations in Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Orinda, and Los Altos. The same is true elsewhere in the country: in pockets of New York City, in Montgomery County outside Washington D.C., and so on.

Kaplan and Packer see the fundraising galas thrown by school foundations as an opportunity to shine a light on the excesses of our current tech titans. In the current overheated Silicon Valley economy, in an age of growing inequality, school auctions only scratch the surface of such opportunities.

But the problem with school foundations goes much deeper than exposing the follies of fundraising galas among the one percent. The problem is that such activity actually exacerbates inequalities in funding between public schools, widening the already large gap between rich and poor.  And it is carried on under the name of, and legal recognition as, charitable activity.

Here is a case where charity does not aid the poor, is not indifferent to the poor, but actually confers additional advantage to the already well-off.  For those who understand charity to mean something about alms-giving and support for the poor, it is surprising how little of the roughly $300 billion given away annually in the United States is directed to the needy. (A few links on this: report from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, Wonkblog post, a 2007 Wall Street Journal op-ed by Sheryl Sandberg, and a new, but gated, article I wrote on the topic here.)

In the case of school foundations, I don’t blame well-intended parents.  They are seeking quite naturally to support the education of their own children. Punishing parents by banning or curtailing their support for their children is no answer, but neither is publicly subsidizing behavior that encourages activity which predictably worsens inequalities between the educational opportunities of rich and poor kids.

The problem here is policy, not parents. So the focus should be on public policy, on the basic framework that defines, structures, and governs philanthropy. This is the topic of much of my recent research. What role should philanthropy play in a democratic society? What norms should inform the policies that govern the philanthropic sector?

Such questions are also core to the work of the scholars and practitioners at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and in our magazine, the Stanford Social Innovation Review.  In 2005 I wrote there about the perverse incentives in tax policy that structure charitable giving, A Failure of Philanthropy: American Charity Shortchanges the Poor, and Public Policy is Partly to Blame.  The piece has some data about the extent of private giving to public schools in California and discusses a range of public policy problems and solutions.  Earlier this year, I contributed to a forum in the Boston Review on the topic What Are Foundations For? And I am completing a book, entitled Just Giving, that seeks to provide a full treatment of the role of philanthropy in democracy.

 

 

 

Philanthropy and Caring for the Needs of Strangers

August 15th, 2013 § 0

The New School for Social Research hosted a conference in December 2012 on Giving: Caring for the Needs of Strangers.  It was an eclectic and interesting gathering, including presentations from tax lawyers, economists, journalists, religious studies scholars, evolutionary psychologists, nonprofit leaders, and philosophers. The journal Social Research has just released a special issue with some of the papers from the conference.

My contribution examined two things:

1. As an empirical matter, is philanthropy directed at caring for the needs of strangers?

2. As a normative matter, should public policy for philanthropy favor caring for the needs of strangers?

Many people believe that charity is primarily an activity that supports the needy and disadvantaged.  But this is untrue: very little charity is alms-giving. The annual Giving USA reports show the same distributive pattern year after year: the bulk of charitable giving goes toward religion, trailed by higher education and health. Giving to support the poor and disadvantaged amounts, at most, to one-third, of all giving, and is very likely far less. (See here and here, for instance.)

The articles are gated for six months, but with university access you can likely download them here.  If you want a copy just of my piece, email me.

What are Foundations For?

March 27th, 2013 § 0

I’ve been writing about the role of philanthropy in democracy for the past few years. Through my work with the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, I’ve come to understand a little better the work of one significant component of American philanthropy: private philanthropic foundations.

Foundations are institutional oddities in democratic societies.  They are largely unaccountable, non-transparent, permitted to exist in perpetuity, and the beneficiaries of significant tax breaks.  Why create such an institutional form in democracy? What are foundations for?

That’s the question I explore in a new forum in the current Boston Review.  There are interesting responses from Stanley Katz, Diane Ravitch, Christopher J. Coyne, Deborah Fung, Paul Brest, Rick Cohen, Scott Nielsen, Tyler Cowen, Seana Shiffrin, Pablo Eisenberg, Larry Kramer, Eric Beerbohm, Robert K. Ross, Gara LaMarche, and Emma Saunders-Hastings.

Lead paragraph of the article below the fold.

» Read the rest of this entry «

New Book — Occupy the Future

January 28th, 2013 § 1

This week marks the release of a new book on the Occupy movement – Occupy the Future, from Boston Review/MIT Press – that I had a hand in producing. (Order information: Amazon, Powell’s, MIT Press).

The Occupy movement peaked, it’s fair to say, in the fall of 2011. Occupy Sandy and Occupy Debt notwithstanding, the political force and overall engagement of the Occupy movement have waned.  This is not to say Occupy was a failure.

To the contrary, one reason Occupy might have waned is its success in placing massive inequality atop the political agenda and framing the issue in terms of the now well-known 1% – 99% divide.

However one judges its effect, Occupy was never especially clear about identifying, much less pushing, actual policy reforms. Occupy found its strength in the enduring ideals of democracy – equality of opportunity, social mobility, equal political voice – and yet said little about how an open, decentralized social movement might realize these ideals.

In the fall of 2011, I and three colleagues at Stanford (David Grusky, Doug McAdam, and Debra Satz), organized some of our colleagues to write short opinion pieces about Occupy. We asked them to reflect not on Occupy as a movement or on its potential for success. We asked instead that they write about the gap between American ideals and actual practices, a gap we thought Occupy had called welcome attention to.

These opinion pieces were published in an online forum in the magazine Boston Review, and they reflected the varied backgrounds of the scholars by addressing such diverse issues as the institutional sources of rising inequality, the influence of money in politics, the declining access to education, and the role of art in social change.

Stimulated by responses to these short opinion pieces, we asked the contributors to the online forum to expand what they’d written into short chapters, adding empirical detail and supporting argument.  Occupy the Future is the result.

While Occupy’s political potency is weaker today than in late 2011, the issue of extreme inequality remains with us. We hope Occupy the Future contributes to continuing conversation about the causes, significance, and when appropriate, remedies of such inequality.

It’s an all-star list of Stanford scholars. Full Table of Contents below the fold:

» Read the rest of this entry «

Post-Doctoral Fellowships at the Stanford Center on Ethics in Society

December 5th, 2012 § 0

Stanford’s Center on Ethics in Society has several fellowships for post-doctoral scholars in two areas: scholars working generally on ethics and scholars (including those with social science PhDs) working in some way on questions concerning educational opportunity. Full details here:

The Center for Ethics in Society Post Doctoral Fellowships

For 2013-2014, we seek up to four new post doctoral fellows. We are also expecting to be able to offer an additional three post doctoral fellowships. These three position will play a role in courses tied to the new undergraduate ethics requirement at Stanford.

We welcome candidates with substantial normative research interests from diverse backgrounds including philosophy, the social sciences, and professional schools. We are especially interested in candidates with research interests in inequality, human rights, immigration, and environmental justice, but we welcome all applicants with strong normative interests that have some practical implications. Fellows will be involved in teaching, interact with undergraduates in the Ethics in Society Honors Program and help in developing an inter-disciplinary ethics community across the campus.

The appointment term is September 1, 2013 – August 31, 2014; however, the initial term may be renewed for an additional year. Applicants must have completed all requirements for their PhD by June 30, 2013. Candidates must also be no more than 3 years from the awarding of their degree (i.e., September 2010).

Stanford University is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to increasing the diversity of its faculty. It welcomes applications from women and members of minority groups, as well as others who would bring additional dimensions to the university’s research and teaching missions. Salary is competitive.

For information on how to access the online system to submit your application, visit our website .

Spencer Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowships in Equality of Opportunity and Education at Stanford University

For 2013-2014, we seek up to two post doctoral scholars for a project focused on issues of equality of opportunity and the public provision of education. These fellowships have been created with funding by the Spencer Foundation. The fellows will join the community of post doctoral fellows at the Center but will be selected on the basis of their fit with this multi-year project on Equality of Opportunity and the Public Provision of Education. We seek scholars with a PhD (from disciplines such as philosophy, education or one of the social sciences) or a JD with research interests related to (any of) the following questions:

1. What ideal of equality should govern the public provision of education?

2. What are the implications of this ideal for concrete decisions about school financing, admissions practices, and the national, state, and local distribution of educational responsibility?

3. What are the practical obstacles to achieving this ideal in education?

Fellows will receive training and mentorship; work closely with distinguished faculty related to the project; participate in multi-disciplinary seminars and conferences and meet with leading scholars and policy makers in the field. Fellows may be assigned some teaching responsibilities (at most one course per year), and will be asked to participate in faculty-graduate student workshops, interact with undergraduates in the School of Education and Ethics in Society program and help in developing an inter-disciplinary ethics community across the campus.

The appointment term is September 1, 2013 – August 31, 2014. Applicants must have completed all requirements for their PhD by June 30, 2013. Candidates must also be no more than 3 years from the awarding of their degree (i.e., September 2010).

Stanford University is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to increasing the diversity of its faculty. It welcomes applications from women and members of minority groups, as well as others who would bring additional dimensions to the university’s research and teaching missions. Salary is competitive.

For information on the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, visit our website .

Application deadline is January 10, 2013 5:00pm (Pacific Standard Time). Please submit your application material via Interfolio.

Contact person: Joan Berry at joanberry at stanford dot edu

Post-Doctoral Fellowships at Stanford PACS

November 14th, 2012 § 1

The Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society will once more appoint two post-doctoral fellows for a 1 or 2 year fellowship.

Full description of the fellowship is below, and information about how to apply is here.

Postdoctoral Fellowship

Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society

Application deadline: January 9th, 2013

Stanford PACS invites applications for a one or two-year postdoctoral fellowship. The Center will award fellowships for two scholars to spend time at Stanford University and participate in Center activities. We seek to appoint promising post-doctoral scholars who are actively engaged in research on topics related to our core scholarly mission, which is to develop and share knowledge to improve philanthropy, strengthen civil society, and effect social change. It is a broad mandate, encompassing scholars from across the university. Potential applicants can get a sense of the wide range of scholarly projects under the PACS umbrella by consulting the research projects of current and past PhD and postdoctoral fellows at the Center.  Topics range from the ethics of humanitarian aid, debates over school financing and form, assessments of the efficacy of foundation efforts at field-building, organizational capacity for continuous innovation, studies of altruism, and the role of social movements in civic engagement, to name only a few topics.

Each fellow will be affiliated with a disciplinary department or school at Stanford University and with the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.  The postdoctoral fellowship provides young scholars with the opportunity to pursue original research related to philanthropy, social innovation, civic engagement and civil society and to work closely with a Stanford faculty member, while participating in program activities such as our research workshop on philanthropy and civil society and monthly public events.  The fellowship provides ample time for the fellows to pursue their current line of scholarship and also expects collaboration with Stanford scholars.

Stanford University faculty members who are potential sponsors of a postdoctoral fellow include the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society Faculty Co-Directors Paul Brest, Woody Powell, and Rob Reich.  A longer list of potential faculty is available on the PACS website under the link for the faculty steering committee.

The Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society is a program of the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS).  Since 2006, the Center has supported PhD students and undergraduates from across the university, and since 2010 the post-doctoral fellowship program reflects our effort to fund research from outside Stanford.

The annual fellowship stipend is $50,000, plus the standard benefits that postdoctoral fellows at Stanford University receive. The fellowship program falls under U.S. Immigration J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa activities.  Stanford University stipulates that postdoctoral fellows must have received their PhD within the past four years.

Please include the following information in both electronic and paper format:

  1. Cover letter detailing the reasons for the applicant’s interest in coming to Stanford, including comment on the faculty member or members with whom the applicant wishes to work.
  2. Curriculum Vitae.
  3. Fellowship proposal detailing the research that the fellow would undertake while at Stanford (five page limit).
  4. Writing sample consisting of either a dissertation chapter or a recent published paper.
  5. Graduate Transcript with proof that applicants have completed all the requirements for the PhD, or a letter from their PhD advisor stating they will do so by June 2013.
  6. Two Letters of Recommendation
  7. Please disclose if you have additional funding arrangements.

The deadline for submission is January 9th, 2013.

Applications should be submitted electronically to the Stanford University Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society via email to pacscenter@stanford.edu and may also be submitted by hard copy if necessary directly to the Stanford University Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, PO Box 20554, Stanford, CA 94309-8554.

Questions about the application should be directed to pacscenter@stanford.edu.

 

Post Doc Fellowships at the Center for Ethics in Society, 2012-2013

October 10th, 2011 § 0

The Center for Ethics in Society at Stanford University is once again seeking applicants for several post-doc fellowships. There’s a terrific roster of current post-docs available here

Postdoctoral Fellowship Opportunities for 2012-2013

For 2012-2013, The McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society seeks up to four new postdoctoral fellows. We welcome candidates with substantial normative research interests from diverse backgrounds including philosophy, the social sciences, and professional schools. We are especially interested in candidates with research interests in inequality, human rights, immigration, and environmental justice, but we welcome all applicants with strong normative interests that have some practical implications. Fellows will teach one class, participate in a Political Theory Workshop, interact with undergraduates in the Ethics in Society Honors Program and help in developing an inter-disciplinary ethics community across the campus.

The appointment term is September 1, 2012 – August 31, 2013; however, the initial term may be renewed for an additional year. Applicants must have completed all requirements for their PhD by June 30, 2012. Candidates must also be no more than 3 years from the awarding of their degree (i.e., September 2009).

Stanford University is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to increasing the diversity of its faculty. It welcomes applications from women and members of minority groups, as well as others who would bring additional dimensions to the university’s research and teaching missions. Salary is competitive.

The application deadline is January 11, 2012 (5:00pm Pacific Standard Time).

To access the online application system, click here.

For more information on the Center and our fellowship program, click here.

For inquiries, please contact Joan Berry at the Center.

Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the PACS Center, 2011-2012

December 9th, 2010 § 0

The Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society is a relatively new outfit here at Stanford.  Its mission is to cultivate research from any corner of the university on issues related to philanthropy, nonprofits and nongovernmental orgs, or civil society/associational life.  We understand the subject matter quite broadly.

For the past four years we have been funding dissertation fellows, and potential post-doc applicants can get a sense of the wide array of research projects/topics that would fall comfortably under our mission by reading over the research topics of our previous and current dissertation fellows.

» Read the rest of this entry «

Political Theory Workshop Schedule, Winter 2010

December 17th, 2009 § 0

The Political Theory Workshop at Stanford University will resume in Winter Quarter on Friday, January 9. Josh Cohen and I co-direct the workshop, and we’ve got a great line-up for the new quarter.

The workshop meets on Fridays, 1:15-3pm. Full details about the workshop can be found here.

To join the mailing list for the workshop, email Kelly Rosellen: rosellen[at]stanford[dot]edu

January 8, 2010
Diego von Vacano
Political Science, Texas A&M; visiting scholar at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences
Title: Immigrant Identity in a Cosmopolitan World
Co-sponsored by the Linda Randall Meier Research Workshop in Global Justice

January 15, 2010
Josh Kornbluth
Monologuist
Title: TBA

January 22, 2010
Kieran Oberman
Stanford Post-Doctoral Fellow (Program on Global Justice and Center on Ethics in Society)
Title: Can brain drain justify immigration restrictions?
Co-sponsored by the Linda Randall Meier Research Workshop in Global Justice

January 29, 2010
Barbara Fried
Stanford Law
Title: The Consequences Matter — But To What?
Co-sponsored: Political Theory Workshop, Program on Human Rights, and the Linda Randall Meier Research Workshop in Global Justice

February 5, 2010
Allegra McLeod
Stanford Post-Doctoral Fellow (Program on Global Justice and Center on Ethics in Society)
Title: Exporting U.S. Criminal Justice: Global Governance Through Crime
Co-sponsored by the Linda Randall Meier Research Workshop in Global Justice

February 12, 2010
Margaret Gilbert
Philosophy, University of California, Irvine
Title: De-Moralizing Political Obligation

February 19, 2010
Daniel Markovits
Yale Law
Title: Toleration and Politics

February 26, 2010
Melissa Lane
Politics, Princeton
Title: Weakness of Virtue, Not Will: Plato on Self-Knowledge and Akrasia
Co-sponsored: Political Theory Workshop and Ethics and Politics, Ancient and Modern Workshop

March 5, 2010
Niko Kolodny
Philosophy, Berkeley
Title: The Explanation of Amour-Propre

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