SCETL Talks

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership Talks provide a forum for visiting scholars and speakers to present their research and ideas to students and faculty and friends of the school. We welcome guests to join us for these conversations addressing a variety of topics in political, economic, and civic thought.

SCETL Visiting Scholar Talks

"Slavery and the Constitution: a Neo-Madisonian Perspective" with Michael Zuckert


March 8 | 5 - 6 p.m. MST | Online

Ever since the emergence of the abolitionist movement there has been great controversy over just how supportive of slavery the Constitution of the United States was. One position, which is sometimes called neo-Garrisonian after an important abolitionist, holds the Constitution was indeed extremely helpful to slavery. Another position, which we might call neo-Lincolnian after the President who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, believed it was much less supportive of slavery. Neither side, Zuckert argues, was approaching the constitution in the way most revealing of the truth about slavery and the Constitution, a way Zuckert calls neo-Madisonian after the constitution’s chief architect, James Madison.

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"The African-American Story: Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man" with Catherine Zuckert


March 29 | 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. MST | Online

Re-reading the Invisible Man this fall in the wake of the George Floyd protests, Zuckert was struck by the novel’s continuing relevance. It won the National Book Award in 1952, the year it was published; and in 2000 it was at the top of several lists of the 100 Best Books of the twentieth century.  The literary merits of the novel are not in much doubt; but the political vision it contains is much more controversial.  Angered by his experience with the "Brotherhood" the narrator proclaims that color-blind is blind, blind particularly to the importance of race and color.  But at the end of the novel, the narrator also concludes that African-Americans should continue to promote and subscribe to the principles of the Declaration of Independence, even though the men who penned the words did not.

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For students and faculty

"The Selling of the President, 1860: Lincoln's Political Cunning" with Henry Olsen


March 31 | 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. MST | Online

Abraham Lincoln is rightly thought to be one of America's greatest Presidents. Many people have studied his words and deeds, but few ponder the arduous political path he had to hew in his rise from backwoods lawyer and bush league politician to become America's 16th President. Washington Post columnist and political analyst Henry Olsen's lecture will take you into Lincoln's mind and show how his mastery of the purportedly low arts of political strategy and cunning were crucial to making Lincoln the statesman we all revere.

Register to attend.