Speaker Series

The Levitt Center Speaker Series is committed to enhancing the academic experience of our students by introducing them to a wide array of intellectually challenging speakers. The Series features many speakers with substantial academic and policy experience, an invaluable asset in helping students make the connection between the classroom and policies enacted in the real world.

Students and other audience members have the opportunity to engage speakers in thoughtful discussion following each lecture. Our four program areas, Inequality and Equity, Justice and Security, Sustainability, and Public Health and Well-Being; as well as our Leadership and Social Innovation initiatives, provides a focus for our year-long lecture series, as well as for our Faculty Lunch series and Innovation Roundtable discussions.

Fall 2018 Speakers & Panel Discussions

Election 2018 – Weaponization of Whiteness. The 2018 Election Series concluded with a lunch discussion led by Assistant Professor of Anthropology Mariam Durrani on “the Weaponization of White Identity Politics in the 2018 Election.” Durrani began by describing her main areas of study, which includes immigration and the discourse around it; in the wake of this year’s midterms, she said, we can see talk of “immigration” as a clear “proxy for something else” in the country’s discourse in the news, social media, and political rhetoric. As she sees the emergent trends, Durrani proposes that this “something else” is the activation and mobilization of a systemic white identity politics that has historically been present in this country, but is becoming more conscious of its status as a type of identity, instead of as an unself-reflective and taken-for-granted normal baseline for political discourse. Mariam Durrani, Assistant Professor Anthropology. (Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 11:45 a.m., Levitt Center Conference Room, KJ 251A)

The Midterms are Over, Now What? Prof. Glenn Altschuler of Cornell University, both of which reflected on the immediate aftermath of the 2018 elections and what to expect going forward. Altschuler is particularly concerned about polarization in American politics, and worries that ideological purity and resistance to cooperation will continue until an extreme external shock to the system, like a global recession or undeniable climate crisis, intervenes. He is also worried by the Democrat party’s institutional resistance to younger generations of leaders, but sees a promising strategy in the House Democrats setting an agenda of upholding ACA protections, introducing infrastructure bills, and proposing a repeal of corporate tax cuts; while also “driving Trump crazy” with constant subpoenas and requests for testimony through their rightful oversight capacity. Prof. Glenn Altschuler, Professor of American Studies at Cornell University. (Monday, November 12, 2018, 11:45 a.m., Levitt Center Conference Room, KJ 251A)

Values and Voting. “What role do values play in politics?” To orient the discussion, he introduced the main ideas of Weberian sociology and sociologist of religion at Notre Dame Christian Smith’s Moral, Believing Animals, which takes the Weberian understanding of morality as a constellation of collectively agreed-upon assumptions and intuitions and suggests tracking moments of high emotion as a reliable guide to when people’s moral values are threatened or otherwise engaged. He then opened up the discussion, asking attendees to participate in an exercise of tracing their emotional reactions to the Kavanaugh hearings back to the values they felt were challenged, and how those values would influence their future political action. Professor Steve Ellingson. (Monday, October 15, 2018, 11:45 a.m., Levitt Center Conference Room, KJ 251A)  

President Obama and the Racialization of Midterm Congressional Elections. Matt Luttig, a scholar of public opinion and political psychology in the Colgate Political Science department, presented his research over lunch—his recent investigations have been attempting to answer the question of why the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections swung more heavily than predicted toward the opposition Republican party. Matt Luttig, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Colgate University. (Thursday, September 20, 2018, 11:45 a.m., Levitt Center Conference Room, KJ 251A)  

Election 2018 – The 22nd District Congressional Race: An Assessment and Analysis.  Prof. Luke Perry of Utica College, who is also a columnist covering local and national politics at the Utica Observer-Dispatch, came to the Levitt Center to guide a lunch discussion about the dynamics of the 22nd Congressional District race between incumbent Claudia Tenney and Democratic challenger Anthony Brindisi, as well as briefly touching on the neighboring 24th. Luke Perry, Professor of Government and Politics at Utica College. (Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 11:45 a.m., Levitt Center Conference Room, KJ 251A)

Spring 2018 Speakers & Panel Discussions

Lecture in Justice and Security: Courts, Congress and  the Meaning of Laws. Robert Katzmann, Chief Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. (Thursday, April 26, 2018, 4:15 p.m., Bradford Auditorium, KJ 125)

Election 2018 – When Polarization Was the Solution: Advocates and Architects of Our Partisan Era. Bringing history to bear in our present era of partisan polarization, Rosenfeld explains why in the mid-20th century bipartisanship was seen as a problem and how polarization was cast as the solution. Sam Rosenfeld, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Colgate University. [Tuesday, April 24, 2018, 11:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m., Levitt Center Conference Room, KJ 251A]

The Justice System and the Mentally Ill. How can the Justice system more effectively and equitably work with the mentally ill? How are diversionary courts and other programs working in Upstate New York? How can criminal Justice professionals and mental health professionals work together? A panel discussion with Hon. Jack Elliott, Rochester City Court; David Jacobowski, University of Rochester Medical Center; and Carol Fisler, Center for Court Innovation. (Monday, April 23, 4:15 p.m., Bristol Center 204/208 Dwight Lounge.)

Richard Hanna In Conversation. Richard Hanna is the Former Representative for NY’s 22nd District. (Thursday, April 19, 2018, at 11:45 a.m. in the Levitt Center Conference Room)

Portals to Politics: Grassroots Narratives of Policing in the “Low End,” Downtown Baltimore, South L.A., and the 53206. A lecture by Dr. Vesla Weaver, Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor of Political Science & Sociology, John’s Hopkins University. (Thursday, April 12, 2018, 4:00 p.m. in KJ 127 - Red Pit)

Gerrymandering: The Math Behind the Madness. Just about everyone agrees that partisan gerrymandering is unfair; arguments center around how to detect it and whether there are other gerrymanders (racial, ethnic, socioeconomic) that we should be looking for, too. We will examine several mathematical criteria and metrics for fair districting that have been, are being, and will be discussed in legislatures and courts across the country. Courtney R. Gibbons, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Hamilton College. (Tuesday, April 10, 11:45 a.m., Levitt Center Conference Room)

Freedom of Expression Panel Discussion with Professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies Todd Franklin, Assistant Professor of Anthropology Mariam Durrani, and Professor of Government Robert Martin.  Hamilton's Freedom of Expression statement is 50 years old. Come to an interactive panel discussion about Civil Discourse, Hate Speech, and Freedom of Expression.  Professor Franklin will moderate the panel and speak on Title IX considerations; Professor Durrani will offer a textual analysis of our current freedom of expression statement and reflect on who may be silenced by demands for civil discourse; and Professor Martin will discuss the particular tensions this debate raises at a small liberal arts college.  (Friday, March 30, 2018, at 12 noon, Blood Fitness Center Lounge)

Creating a Road Map for Effecting Real, Lasting & Financially Sustainable Social Change. Speaker Melinda Little  will hold a workshop to develop “A Theory of Change” for a nonprofit organization of their choice.  In a world in which competition for funds is increasingly competitive, a theory of change is a powerful tool for helping a nonprofit measure their impact and articulate their value:  “Did anything really change because of our work? Did the lives of those in our program change, and did the community change?” (Tuesday, March 27, 4:00 p.m., in the Levitt Center Conference Room)

The Judge - a documentary from Director Erika Cohn. Kholoud Al-Faqih, a young Palestinian lawyer, became the first woman judge to be appointed to the Middle East’s Shari’a (Islamic law) courts. The Judge offers a unique portrait of Judge Kholoud's brave journey as a lawyer, her tireless fight for justice for women, and her drop-in visits with clients, friends, and family. The Judge presents an unfolding legal drama, with rare insight into both Islamic law and gendered justice. In the process, the film illuminates  universal conflicts in the domestic life of Palestine including custody of children, divorce, and abuse. (https://www.thejudgefilm.com) (Tuesday, March 27,  7:00 p.m. Kirner Johnson 127 - Red Pit)

221st Birthday Celebration for Gerrit Smith. Gerrit Smith was a member of Hamilton's Class of 1818, an abolitionist and a crusader for racial justice.  Speaker Alden “Max” Smith, is Co-Chair of the Gerrit Estate’s annual Emancipation Day Celebration and an active member of the Rome Chapter of the NAACP.  (Monday, March 5, 11:45 a.m., Burke All-night Reading Room)

Black Education in Three Acts: Carter G. Woodson and Scenes of the American School from Below. What alternative educational models are demanded by the experience of slavery and legal violence? How did these alternatives take hold in the era of Jim Crow? Jarvis Givens, Postdoctoral Fellow in Education at Harvard University. (Monday, March 5, 2018, 7:00 p.m. in Kirner Johnson 127 - Red Pit)

The Art of Citizen Diplomacy in an Age of Religious Conflict. Speaker Marc Gopin, is director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution and the James H. Laue Professor at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. He has more than a decade of experience in conflict resolution in the Middle East. His talk will present reflections on that experience, an argument about the importance of citizens diplomacy, and an analysis of the ethics of intervention in conflict zones. (Wednesday, February 28, p.m. in Kirner Johnson 127 - Red Pit)

Technologies of Empathy. Lecture and Discussion with Timothy Recuber, Visiting Assistant Professor, Hamilton College Department of Communications (Wednesday, February 28, 4:15 pm in the Taylor Science Center G027 Kennedy Auditorium)

What Does the Earth Ask of Us?  Speaker Robin W. Kimmerer is the Distinguished Teaching Professor and Director for the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York. (Friday, February 23 at 4:10 p.m. in the Taylor Science Center G027 Kennedy Auditorium)

Living with Uncertainty - A presentation with Bikash Regmi and Kumari Pokhrel.  What is the lived experience of recent immigrants to Utica? Join us for a conversation with two people who will share their stories of migration, and their attempt to build a new life amid uncertainty. (Tuesday, February 20, 4:00 p.m. Kirner Johnson 127 - Red Pit)

Europe’s Migration Crisis  - A lecture by Leila Simons Talani, Professor of International Political Economy at King’s College London, and Levitt Center Scholar-in-Residence. Since 2015, Europe has struggled with how to respond to increasing numbers of refugees, migrants, and other displaced peoples. How do political and economic factors condition Europe’s response? How does the crisis influence an already tumultuous European politics? How do the various  responses throughout Europe reverberate in the international economic order? (Monday, February 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Red Pit - KJ 127)

Policy, Data, Models, and Inference: The Importance of Critical Thinking, and the Risks of Believing you have ‘All the Data.’  A lunch conversation with Shauna Sweet ’03. She has applied, examined, and developed advanced analytic methods in operational environments within both government and private industry.  (Friday, February 2, 11:45 a.m., Levitt Conference Room)

Vladimir Kara-Murza presents Nemtsov, a documentary about a vocal opponent of Vladimir Putin’s regime.  Kara-Murza, Vice-Chairman of the NGO Open Russia, was a close friend of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was fatally shot near the Kremlin in February 2015.  Kara-Murza (who barely survived two assassination attempts) discusses repression, dissent, and political violence in Russia. (Tuesday, January 30, 7:30 p.m., Bradford Auditorium KJ 125)

Fall 2017 Speakers & Panel Discussions

Just Research: Widening the Methodological Imagination in Contentious Times
Michelle Fine, distinguished professor of Critical Psychology, Women’s Studies, American Studies, and Urban Education at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. (Thursday, November 30, 7:30 p.m., K-J 125 Bradford Auditorium)

Keeping Government Honest: The Power of Transparency
Rose Gill Hearn, principal at Bloomberg Associates
(Wednesday, November 15, 4:15 p.m., Bradford Auditorium - KJ 125)

Whither Work? Film and the Representation of Labor
Scott MacDonald, professor of Art History at Hamilton (Monday, November 13, 11:45 a.m., Levitt Center Conference Room)

Narrowing the Literacy Gap: Examining Difference in Early Childhood Education
Sabrina Boutselis ’19, Levitt Summer Research Presentation
(Thursday, November 9, 4:30 p.m., Levitt Center Conference Room)

Cyrus Boga Workshop: How the World Really Works.
The Importance of Finance for Social Innovators, Change Makers & Everyone Else

Cyrus Boga ’90 is CEO of Novamaya, an education startup serving college students (Saturday, November 4, 2017, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Brunch included, Levitt Center Conference Room. RSVP)

Arab and Muslim in the Age of Trump
Ann Lin, associate professor of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Friday, November 3, 7:30 p.m., Red Pit.)

Cyrus Boga Workshop: How Social Entrepreneurship Prepares you for a Career in Almost Everything
Cyrus Boga ’90 is CEO of Novamaya, an education startup serving college students (Friday, November 3, 2017, 12:30 p.m., lunch included, Levitt Center Conference Room. RSVP.)

Cyrus Boga Workshop: Creating A Viable and Sustainable Social Venture
Cyrus Boga ’90 is CEO of Novamaya, an education startup serving college students (November 2, 2017, 4 p.m., Levitt Center Conference Room. RSVP)

Dreamland: America’s Opiate Epidemic and How We Got Here
Sam Quinones, journalist, storyteller, and acclaimed author (Thursday, October 26, 2017,
7:30 p.m., Hamilton College Chapel)

Levitt Center Future of Work Series: “High School Equivalency, ESL, and the New Economy”
Megan Bates, Mia Caterisano, Morgan Walsh, and Professor of Anthropology Chaise Ladousa (Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 11:45 a.m., Levitt Center Conference Room. RSVP

Journalism & Free Speech
Sam Lebovic, Assistant Professor of History at George Mason University, and historian of American politics and culture (Monday, October 16, 2017)

Generational Leadership Preferences: Reality and Myth
A Levitt Leadership Institute Workshop

Susan Mason, Director of The Levitt Leadership Institute (Saturday, October 7, 2017)

From Anger and Fear to Hope and Love: Redefining Self and Community for Justice and Social Transformation
Margo Okazawa-Rey, professor of Women’s and Gender Studies (Thursday, October 5, 2017)

New Developments in Russia-China Relations: Reappraising the Grand Strategic Triangle during the Trump Era
Lyle Goldstein, associate professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI)
at the U.S. Naval War College (Wednesday, October 4, 2017)

The U.S. Presidential Election: Russian Perspectives
Dmitry Suslov, Deputy Director for Research at the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy (Tuesday, October 3, 2017)

U.S.-Russia Relations Under Trump and Beyond
Dmitry Suslov, Deputy Director for Research at the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy (Monday, October 2, 2017)

Will China’s Economy Crash? The End of the Miracle
Alexsia Chan, Professor of Government (Wednesday, September 20, 2017)

A Public Scholar Workshop: Blogging about Public Issues
Luke Perry, Professor of Government at Utica College (Thursday, September 14, 2017)

Discussion on Hate Speech
Assistant Professor of Anthropology Mariam Durrani, Assistant Professor of History Celeste Day Moore, and Associate Professor of Africana Studies Nigel Westmaas (Tuesday, September 12, 2017)

Speaking Out: A Documentary Theatre Play
Presenting the Real Words of Survivors of Sexual Assault

Bridget Clare Lavin ’18, Levitt Summer Research Fellowship Presentation (Friday and Saturday, September 8 and 9, 2017)

Spring 2017 Speakers & Panel Discussions

International Challenges for the Trump Presidency: East Asia, Latin America, and the Mid-East
Alexsia Chan, Professor of Government; Kira Jumet, Professor of Government; and Heather Sullivan, Professor of Government

Rethinking Campus Sexual Assault: Taking Stock of Obama-Era Reforms,
Against Affirmative Consent, 
and Rethinking the Sexual Violence Framework
Janet Halley, the Royall Professor of Law at Harvard Law School

The Legacy of Barack Obama
Al Tillery, Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University

The Half-life of Democracy: Regime Decay in Theory and Practice
Frank Anechiarico, Professor of Government; Alfred Kelly, Professor of History; and
Richard Werner, Professor of Philosophy

Knocking the Hustle
Lester K. Spence, Associate Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University

Empathy, story-telling and American prisons
Doran Larson, Professor of English and Creative Writing

Japanese Interment 75 Years Later
Margo Okazawa-Rey, Professor of Women’s Studies

Counterterrorism: What Works and What Doesn’t
Erica De Bruin, Professor of Government

Identity and Difference
Margo Okazawa-Rey, Professor of Women’s Studies

Envisioning the Future of Food
Claire Hinrichs, Penn State University; Margaret Gray, Adelphi University; and Evan Weissman, Syracuse University

No One Left Behind: A Bond Forged in Combat
Matt Zeller ’04 and Janis Shinwari, Co-Founders of No One Left Behind

Turkey at a Crossroads: After the Referendum
Riada Asimovic Akyol ’07, contributing  writer for Al-Monitor; Mustafa Akyol, Turkish journalist for Al-Monitor and contributing opinion writer for The New York Times; and Erol Balkan, author of multiple books on politics and economics. Professor Balkan teaches economic development,  international finance and political economy of the Middle East at Hamilton College

Muslim Women and Perceptions in the East and West
Riada Asimovic Akyol ’07, contributing  writer for Al-Monitor

Fall 2016 Speakers & Panel Discussions

The Homeland Security Paradox and Community Resilience
Benjamin Joelson, senior associate at the Chertoff Group; former U.S. Airforce, Security Forces; and Antiterrorism Officer

A Cuban Perspective on US-Cuba Relations
Ernest Dominquez Lopez, Associate Professor and Chair, U.S. Studies Program, CEHSEU, University of Havana


Regional Challenges for the Trump Presidency
Alexsia Chan, Kira Jumet, and Heather Sullivan (Government Department)

Gender, Sexuality, Misogyny, and Election 2016
Joyce Barry and Anne Lacsamana (Women’s and Gender Studies)

The Half-life of Democracy: Regime Decay in Theory and Practice
Frank Anechiarico (Government), Alfred Kelly (History), and Rick Werner (Philosophy)

Year of the Party-Crashers: 2016 and the State of the American Party System
Sam Rosenfeld (Government), David Frisk (AHI), and Maurice Isserman (History), and Gbemende Johnson (Government)

High Stakes for the Planet: The 2016 Presidential Election
Peter Cannavo (Government)

Transparency, Politics, and the Federal Reserve
Ann Owen (Economics)

The State of the Election
Sam Rosenfeld, Phil Klinkner, and Gbemende Johnson (Government)

American Foreign Policy and the Election
Alan Cafruny (Government)

Hot Seats: The Math of Electoral Apportionment
Dick Bedient (Math)

Inequality and the Election
Dennis Gilbert (Sociology)

American Religions and the Election
Steve Ellingson (Sociology) & Quincy Newell (Religious Studies)

Whose Politics? Race, History, and American Politics
Celeste Day-Moore (History) and Margo Okazawa-Rey (Women’s and Gender Studies)

SPring 2016 Speakers & Panel Discussions

Between Two Worlds
John Dau, Human Rights Activist 

What Is the Problem for which Gun Control Is the Solution? 
The 2nd and 14th Amendments and Gun Culture;
Gun Controls: Keeping Firearms out of the Hands of Dangerous Users;
Good Guns and Bad Guns 
Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, Professor of Constitutional Law and the Courts at the New York University School of Law 

The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars
Michael E. Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Pennsylvania State 

Understanding Gender Bias in Developing World
Robert Jensen, Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania 

Walking with Abel: Herding Cattle in Mali and Other Ways of Looking at the World
Anna Badkhen, journalist covering stories of people around the world in extremis

Ancient Myth: A Tool for Self-Discovery
Rhodessa Jones, Director of The Medea Project 

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