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

Prof. Sonu Bedi Leads Rockefeller Leadership Fellows Session on Multicultural Dilemmas

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Assistant Professor of Government Sonu Bedi led Fellows through a workshop entitled "Multicultural Dilemmas: Adjudicating Hard Cases" that combined leadership theory with law and the language of rights.  Fellows began by discussing in small groups how the language of rights shaped arguments in the following situations: Employment Division v. Smith (1990), Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972), and the 2010 French ban on burqas.  By specifically analyzing the language the leaders involved used to justify their decision, Fellows gained a better understanding of how the language of rights shapes debates in contemporary American decision making. 

Professor Bedi then proposed strategies to more effectively debate and interpret multicultural issues.  They included altering ones perceptionof an issue to in essence "put oneself in their shoes," listening to thevoices of the affected groups, and framing the dilemma in the language of reciprocal reasons rather than in the language of rights.  He concludedthe session by fielding questions from Fellows on everything from the language of rights in the current debate on healthcare to the controversy surrounding the former Dartmouth Native American mascot.

-- Karen Doster '11

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