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Power: Citizenship, Circuits, Societies

A Scholars Theme for 2016-17

The College Park Scholars annual theme brings our community together to engage in a shared intellectual experience. We take on a complex, multifaceted problem that demands thoughtful, creative, hands-on solutions.

Our year of Power will be a study of power across social, political, cultural, scientific, and technological domains. Students will have opportunities to consider and investigate questions of power from the orientation of their Scholars programs and in ways that connect thinking among disciplines. The November election will provide a springboard into these questions and a framework for many of our fall activities. Voting is an exercise of the power we have as citizens to shape our country’s leadership, but power isn’t just a matter of individual capacity to influence behavior or change the course of events. Power also inheres in institutions and organizations. It moves through systems, including our systems of knowledge and belief (such as, for example, academic disciplines).

A message about voting from Executive Director Marilee Lindemann: #ScholarsVote

Presidential Debate Watches
September 26, 9:00-10:30, 1100 CCC
October 4, 9:00-10:30, 1100 CCC (Vice presidential debate)
October 9, 9:00-10:30, 1100 CCC
October 19, 9:00-10:30, 1100 CCC

Do Facts Matter? Presidential Politics in the Age of Truthiness
5-6:15 p.m., Thursday, October 20, 5:00-6:15, Hoff Theater, Stamp Student Union

Join us for a town-hall discussion, led by Scholars program faculty, in response to the presidential debates. This is going to be an engaging conversation about what role facts play in politics, how we evaluate claims, and who is responsible for checking. The Scholars faculty bring their expert perspectives from many fields and will help us make sense of the debates, the campaigns, and the policies that will follow the election of a new president. As one program director puts it, we eventually have to move from the poetry of the campaign to the prose of governing.

POWER TALKS: Lectures, Conversations, Conferences

Democracy Then and Now: Citizenship and Public Education is a campus-wide fall initiative aimed at highlighting the central role of public education in the development of American democracy. Many of its events touch on issues of citizenship, inclusion, and exclusion that relate directly to uneven distributions of power in the U. S. A few events are highlighted below, but for the complete schedule, see here.

Claudia Rankine
Poet and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, author of Citizen: An American Lyric
Thursday, September 29, 5:30-7 p.m., Gildenhorn Recital Hall, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

Crimmigration in the Shadow of Sovereignty
Conference sponsored by the MLAW Programs
Thursday, October 6 and Friday, October 7, Stamp Student Union
See details and schedule here.

Frank LoMonte
Executive Director, Student Press Law Center
Thursday, October 13, 3:30 p.m., Eaton Theater, Knight Hall
From the Schoolhouse Gate to the Jailhouse Door: Constitutional Rights on Campus”

Robert Koulish
Director, MLAW Programs and College Park Scholars Justice and Legal Thought Program and Joel J. Feller Research Professor, University of Maryland
Thursday, October 27, 3:30 p.m., Jimenez Hall 0220
"Citizenship and the Right to Public Education for Undocumented Immigrants”

The Power Book will also be this year’s First Year Book, Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. Stevenson is a MacArthur Award winner and an attorney who co-founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization, based in Montgomery, Alabama that provides legal representation to prisoners who may have been wrongly convicted of crimes, poor prisoners, and others who may have been denied a fair trial. Just Mercy is a powerful account of his work with EJI. Here is The New York Times review of the book.

Stevenson will speak on campus on Tuesday, November 1 at 4 p.m. in the Stamp Colony Ballroom. For further information on the First Year Book, including other events on campus and resources for study, visit the First Year Book website here.

The Power Seminar is a new addition to theme programming this year. In the spring semester, Scholars Executive Director and Associate Professor of English Marilee Lindemann will offer “Orphan Black: Power, Technology, and the Human” as a CPSP388. The course is open to students in all programs and will take a big-question approach to the complex issues raised by this provocative, entertaining sci fi conspiracy drama from BBC America. The show delves deeply into the moral and ethical implications of human cloning. It raises serious questions about the ethics of science, medicine, business, and religion and about how an individual grapples with the discovery that, far from being unique or autonomous, she is genetically identical to an unknown number of other clones whose whole lives are part of a corporate/scientific experiment.
Orphan Black trailer

Some possible readings:
Rosi Braidotti, The Posthuman (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013).
Donna Haraway, “A Manifesto for Cyborgs” (1991).
Gregory E. Pence, What We Talk About When We Talk About Clone Club: Bioethics and Philosophy in Orphan Black (Dallas: BenBella Books, 2016).