The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Public Program

Keeping Faith with the Constitution

Pamela S. Karlan is the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law and co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford Law School. Her primary scholarly interests involve constitutional litigation, particularly with respect to voting rights and antidiscrimination law. She has published dozens of scholarly articles. She is also the co-author of three leading casebooks and a monograph on constitutional interpretation: Keeping Faith with the Constitution.

Public Program: Jon Kohl '92 “The Future Has Other Plans”

More and more often, we are hearing about the impacts that our modern lifestyle has on our world and the natural resources contained therein. Particularly, parks and heritage areas worldwide are in the midst of a crisis, and little attention is currently devoted to their preservation. While it is true that preservation planning is often underfunded, it seems that there is also a fundamental issue in the assumptions used to create resource management plans in these crucial spaces.

Public Program: “Crime and the Constitution: Arrest, Trial, Incarceration”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, the United States had a total correctional population of 6,741,400 people at the end of 2015. Delving deeper into the prison system’s high numbers, we see a disparity in the inmates’ predominant socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. In questioning the social problems such as crime, poverty, prejudice and political corruption, we must also look at the legal system that perpetuates these ideas and systematic issues. The historical and contemporary patterns of inequality are directly influenced by the Constitution and the court. This event will focus on the constitutionality of arrests, trials, and incarceration following crime.

Student Dinner Discussion with Harry Enten '11

There were 180+ attendees at the “Aftermath: What the 2016 Election Taught Us About Polls, Predictions and American Politics” event with Harry Enten ’11 on Feb 3, with a majority of students in the audience.

Interesting aspects of the lecture included Enten’s assessment of how little the greater majority of the polled public understands about polling and statistical data analysis. The background information of the data covers confidence intervals and also concerns itself with the weighting of groups in a data sample to be representative of a population. Without knowledge of this, we really do not have a firm grasp on what the numbers mean. Enten did a great job contextualizing the decisions FiveThirtyEight made and how it presented its data to the public. Highlights of the event also included the degree to which he dispelled some commonly held notions about the inaccuracy of polls and polling this past cycle. Some audience members asked about specific signs prior to the election; in turn, Enten discussed political trends and variability in political figures.

Public Program: “Rights and Rites: The Supreme Court, Voting, and Marriage Equality”

As the highest court in our nation with the power of judicial review, the Supreme Court has always been pivotal in formulating both our nation’s identity and trajectory. Over the last several years, however, the Supreme Court has become an especially hot topic as it has made sweeping and highly publicized landmark decisions that have reverberated throughout the country and that promise to continue reverberating for many years to come. Yet the Supreme Court’s record has been curiously mixed between progressive and conservative outcomes, legalizing gay marriage for the LGBTQIA+ community in 2015 yet striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act for the African-American community just two years earlier. To some, this is seen as moments of social progress on the Supreme Court being punctured by retreats toward conservatism.

Public Program: “Aftermath: Polls, Predictions, and American Politics”

The results of the latest presidential election cycle shocked many, and some would argue that the nation is still processing the results even now, after the inauguration. For months, countless polls were predicting a Clinton victory. Not only that, many claimed that a Trump presidency was not only unlikely, but unfeasible statistically. Clearly, these claims were incorrect, and the American public must come to terms with the supposed failure of our pollsters.

FiveThirtyEight is considered by many to be a forerunner in the field of political predictions. While they too believed that Secretary Clinton would beat President Trump in the election, FiveThirtyEight’s models showed a significantly higher chance of a Trump victory than did other pollsters.

Public Program: Living on Virtually Nothing in America

The number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to one and a half million American households, including about three million children. How has this happened? Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? What do they do to survive? There are many components to this issue: low-wage labor, unemployment, inequality, disability. At the core of it, however, are the people that are finding ways to survive amongst these challenges. There are so many questions regarding the causes of extreme poverty, aid, and welfare reform.

On Tuesday, January 31st, Class of 1930 Fellow Kathryn Edin spoke to a packed audience on the challenges of income inequality and offered some answers to these important questions. Edin discussed poverty, policy, and how they affect families in America. Her lecture focused on the complex background and future of income disparity, especially the discovery of households surviving on virtually no cash income. Professor Edin’s deep examination of these increasingly broad families living in extreme poverty has “turned sociology upside down,” Mother Jones reported.

Joshua DuBois on Race, Religion and Justice in America

Joshua DuBois led the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships in President Obama’s first term and was called the President’s “Pastor-in-Chief” by TIME Magazine. He spearheaded the White House’s work on responsible fatherhood, grassroots community partnerships and religion in foreign affairs, and brought together community and religious leaders from across the ideological spectrum to tackle the nation’s biggest challenges. Joshua is the author of the bestselling book, The President’s Devotional: The Daily Readings that Inspired President Obama, a compilation of the devotional meditations he shared with the President and narratives of faith in public life. Joshua now leads a consulting firm, Values Partnerships, that creates community and faith-based partnerships for the public, private and non-profit sectors. Joshua is a frequent media commentator and has authored four cover stories for Newsweek magazine, including a seminal piece entitled “The Fight for Black Men” which historian Taylor Branch called “stunning.”

Public Program: Race, Religion and Justice in America: From Obama to Trump

How did we get here and where are we going? How can activism and faith aid us in making a difference? With the knowledge that a different world cannot be changed by indifferent people, we as the greater public must be aware. President Obama’s former spiritual advisor Joshua DuBois offers similar advice to president-elect Mr. Donald Trump in an interview with the Washington Post, saying we “must address the harm; only then can we have any chance of moving forward into hope.” As the nation deals with further racial polarization and divisive issues in religion and the nature of justice, Obama’s “Pastor-in-Chief” could shed some light on foreseen challenges in race and religion under the Trump Administration

Dartmouth Experts Discuss the New Administration

The following is an excerpt from a January 10th Dartmouth Now article.

Dartmouth is convening a week of panel discussions leading up to inauguration day that will feature the College’s leading voices on education, immigration, the budget, terrorism, trade, health care, and energy policy, addressing the “Opportunities and Risks” of a Trump presidency.

The panels are organized by four major themes—domestic issues, global issues, health policy, and energy and the environment—to run over four days from Tuesday, Jan. 17, to Friday, Jan. 20, when President-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office.

Director Andrew Samwick participated on the Tuesday panel titled “Domestic Issues: Governance; Immigration; Education; and the Budget.”

Samwick believes the forums are an opportunity to think rigorously about some of the changes under discussion by the new administration.


The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences