2011-13: From Wall Street to Main Street: Capitalism and the Common Good

The recent era of relatively unrestrained capitalism and the resulting financial crisis have spawned critiques of our economic system focused on growing inequality, instability, ecological devastation, and the very values that underlie our economic system.

This theme explored how we can modify the U.S. capitalist system to make it more just, stable and sustainable. We discussed fundamental issues as well as specific regulatory reforms, moving beyond a critique of past institutions to examine proposals, experiments, theories and actions that promote new thinking about the economy.

Speakers and Scholars

Wayne Morse Chair of Law and Politics

Tribute to Keith Aoki
Former UO law professor Keith Aoki passed away on April 26, 2011 at his home in Sacramento, California. Keith was scheduled to hold the Wayne Morse Chair of Law and Politics in fall 2011. Keith’s passing was a profound loss for the legal and political community. He was a brilliant and creative scholar in intellectual property, local government law and critical race theory. He was a beloved teacher and colleague at the UO, UC Davis, Lewis & Clark, Columbia, and Boston College. The Wayne Morse Center and the School of Law hosted a symposium in Keith’s honor in the fall of 2011.

Senator Russ Feingold
Longtime politician Senator Russ Feingold gave a public address on Nov. 7, 2011, in the Erb Memorial Union Ballroom. Feingold served as a U.S. senator from 1993-2011. In 2001, Feingold was the lone senator who voted against the USA Patriot Act, despite pressure for a unanimous vote, because he felt it infringed on civil liberties. He voted against the Iraq War in 2002, and was the first senator to call for a specific timetable for U.S. exit from Iraq. He served on the Judiciary, Foreign Relations, Budget, and Intelligence committees, and is best known for his work on campaign finance reform. Feingold is an honors law graduate of Harvard Law School and Oxford University and was a Rhodes Scholar. He teaches at Marquette University School of Law. In 2011 he founded Progressives United, a political action committee dedicated to shining the spotlight on corrupt corporate interests in government.

Robert Kuttner
Economist Robert Kuttner is the co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospectmagazine. He also co-founded and serves on the board of directors of the Economic Policy Institute. He has taught at University of Massachusetts Amherst, Brandeis, Boston University and Harvard’s Institute of Politics.  His journalistic career spans several decades—he has worked at the Washington Post, the Village Voice, BusinessWeek and The New Republic. Since 1985, Kuttner has written a column for the Boston Globe. Kuttner was in residence at the Wayne Morse Center from September 24 to October 26, 2012, during which time he co-taught a political science class and delivered a series of lectures titled “Untangling the Economy.” Kuttner is the author of nine books on the U.S. economic system and the politics of markets. He is currently writing a book on globalization and the common good.


David Korten
David Korten is president and founder of the People-Centered Development Forum and co-founder of YES! Magazine. His books include Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, When Corporations Rule the World, and The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism.
Read a blog post from David Korten that focuses on the topic of his speech at UO

Senator Jeff Merkley
Elected in 2008, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley has focused on efforts to reform Wall Street, reduce dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil, and improve U.S. infrastructure. He is widely praised for his work on behalf of consumers and homeowners during the financial crisis. He recently introduced a plan to restore the housing market.

Phil Angelides
Phil Angelides is a nationally respected expert in the fields of financial policy and reform. In 2009, he was appointed by President Obama  as chair of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. The commission’s report, released in January 2011, was a New York Timesbestseller. Angelides served as California State Treasurer from 1999-2007, during which time he was lauded as “the most effective and dynamic state treasurer in a generation” by The Sacramento Bee.

Joan Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald, director of the Law and Public Policy Program at Northeastern University, authored several books on green economic development. She is organizing the Emerald Cities Network to help universities work with cities on climate change initiatives and policies.

Jared Bernstein
Jared Bernstein is a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Prior to joining the center in May 2011, Bernstein was the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team. He is the author and coauthor of numerous books, including Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed? and nine editions of The State of Working America.


Resident Scholars

Michael Fakhri
Michael Fakhri is an assistant professor in the UO School of Law.Fakhri’s academic interests are in international economic law with an emphasis on questions of development. As Morse Resident Scholar, he continued his historical examination of the sugar trade and its relationship to the creation of multilateral trade institutions. Professor Fakrhi organized a conference on Third World Approaches to International Law, held October 20-22, 2011, that focused on globalization and capitalism.

Katharine Meehan
Katharine Meehan is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography. Meehan organized a keynote session on alternatives to capitalism and diverse economies for the “Gender Equity and Capitalism: The Impact of Capitalist Development on Women’s Economic Status and Rights”conference, which took place March 8-9, 2012.

Joseph Lowndes
Joe Lowndes is an associate professor in the UO Department of Political Science. His research interests include American political development, racial politics, conservatism and political culture. His most recent book is From the New Deal to the New Right: Race and the Southern Origins of Modern Conservatism (Yale University Press, 2008), and his current project is on “Libertarianism and Cultural Conservatism in the Tea Party Movement.”

Stuart Chinn 
Stuart Chinn is an assistant professor at the UO School of Law. His research and teaching interests are in constitutional law, constitutional theory, legislation, and legal and political history. He is currently working on a book project dealing with recurrent processes of political change across American history.


Visiting Faculty

Barbara Pocock, University of South Australia
Pocock visited the University of Oregon February-April 2012. She met with students and faculty and participated in the Gender Equity and Capitalism symposium (March 8-9, 2012). Pocock is director of the Centre for Work + Life at the University of South Australia. She has taught and researched labor studies and social science since the mid-1980s. Her books include Living Low Paid: The Dark Side of Prosperous Australia (with Helen Masterman-Smith, 2008); The Labour Market Ate my Babies: Work, Children and a Sustainable Future (2006); The Work/Life Collision(2003); and Strife; Sex and Politics in Labour Unions (1997).

Dissertation Fellows

Johanna Luttrell
Philosophy Ph.D. student Luttrell’s dissertation explored the condition of female global poverty, and particularly women who live in the slums of “developing” countries. She departs from a traditional focus on distribution and recognition to explore issues of alienation and the oppression of women that result from the demands of global capitalism.  Luttrell organized a panel session for the Gender Equity and Capitalism symposium (March 8-9, 2012).

Clinton Sandvick
Sandvick, Ph.D. student in history, examined the passage, enforcement and consolidation of medical licensing laws in the United States from 1865 to 1915. As part of the Progressive Era regulatory reforms, these laws sought to tame a chaotic medical field comprised of doctors advocating various medical therapies.

Brent Commerer
Brent Commerer is a Ph.D student in the Department of Political Science. His dissertation is titled “The Appearance of Democracy: The Politics of Election Redistricting Reform in the U.S.” In it, Commerer examines the political, legal, and other factors that helped reforming states to change the rules of the redistricting game, and the lessons unreformed states might learn from their example.

Ryan Wishart
Ryan Wishart is a Ph.D student in the UO Department of Sociology. During his fellowship, Ryan will work on his dissertation, “Metabolism, Mountains, and Miners: A Dialectical Investigation into Appalachia as an Internal Periphery.”

Project Grants

  • Professor Steve Wooten for a forum on Slow Money and local investing featuring Woody Tasch.
  • designBridge in UO Department of Architecture to enable students to work with homeless Eugenians to design and construct useful structures.
  • Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon for an interfaith education and advocacy campaign focused on “What Good is Government?”
  • Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noreste to research agricultural wealth in the Willamette Valley and develop curriculum for PCUN’s CAPACES Leadership Institute.
  • Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group to write a guide to Wall Street reform aimed at students and the general public, and for a symposium on financial reform.
  • Oregon Working Families Organization to conduct public education sessions in rural Oregon focused on the economic benefits of local banking and credit unions.
  • Oregon Student Foundation to support a workshop on student debt at the Oregon Students of Color Conference.
  • Oregon Center for Public Policy to bring Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities to Eugene and Portland to discuss policies to address inequality.
  • Labor Education and Research Center to present a one-man play and discussion called “Tom Paine’s Democratic Revolution: Individual Liberty and the Common Good.”
  • We the People Eugene for a Democracy School in collaboration with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.