Courtesy of the American Democracy Project Blog
We’re pleased to announce the speaker for our closing plenary session at the 2015 ADP/TDC/NASPA Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Meeting at the New Orleans Marriott in New Orleans, La. on Saturday, June 6th. Plan to join us for a closing lunch and a conversation with Danielle Allen, renowned political philosopher and author of Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality (2014).
Saturday, June 6, 2015 | 1 p.m.
Closing Plenary Speaker
Danielle Allen, Political Philosopher and Author of Our Declaration
Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality
In just 1,337 words, the Declaration of Independence altered the course of history. Written in 1776, it is the most profound document in the history of government since the Magna Carta, signed nearly 800 years ago in 1215. Yet despite its paramount importance, the Declaration, curiously, is rarely read from start to finish—much less understood.
In this talk, Danielle Allen dives into the history of democracy through the framework of the Declaration. She presents the text as a coherent and riveting argument about equality: an animating force that could and did transform the course of our everyday lives. Challenging so much of our conventional political wisdom, she boldly makes the case that we cannot have freedom as individuals without equality among us as a people. With cogent analysis and passionate advocacy, this talk thrillingly affirms the enduring significance of America’s founding text, ultimately revealing what democracy actually means and what it asks of us.
Danielle Allen is a renowned political philosopher and MacArthur Genius with the powerful ability to connect us to complex ideas about democracy, citizenship, and justice. In her new “tour de force” (New York Review of Books), Our Declaration, she explores America’s founding document and its continuing relevance in our society. A bold, incisive speaker, Allen challenges us to look beyond what we think we already know.
Danielle Allen is a political philosopher widely known for her work on justice and citizenship. A former right-wing Republican, Allen became interested in the gap between America’s rich and poor and turned her views toward fighting inequality. “Fast-forward two decades, two doctorates, one $500,000 ‘genius grant’ and a chair at Princeton,” writes the Guardian of Allen’s career, “and her work on contemporary citizenship is helping shape progressive politics on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Allen has been named the director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard and a professor in the university’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Government Department (starting July 2015). She is currently a professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and is the former dean of humanities at the University of Chicago. She is a contributor to the UK Labour party’s policy review, is on the board of the Pulitzer Prize, and is a trustee at Princeton University. She previously worked on President Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, founded the Civic Knowledge Project to offer university lectures to the Chicago’s poor, and was an instructor for the Odyssey Project (courses for adults at or below the poverty line). In 2002, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for her ability to combine “the classicist’s careful attention to texts and language with the political theorist’s sophisticated and informed engagement.”
Allen is the author of The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (2000), Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education (2004), Why Plato Wrote (2010), and Our Declaration(2014). She is a frequent public lecturer and regular guest on public radio, and has contributed to the Washington Post, Boston Review, Democracy, Cabinet, and The Nation.