Past Themes

2015-17: The Future of Public Education

Public education in the U.S plays an indispensable role in promoting citizenship, socializing immigrants, boosting social mobility and equality, and providing career and vocational preparation. But there are many challenges: diversion of resources to other programs, inequities in opportunities, and struggles over curriculum and funding. This theme discussed the possibilities and pitfalls in the future of public education.

2013-15: Media and Democracy

The changing landscape of media offers many openings and challenges for political identities, social movements and institutions. This is the largest revolution in the modern history of human communications and deserves a serious exploration of the changes and their impacts. We will examine the changes in our contemporary media as well as the dramatic cultural, political, and legal transitions influenced by new media.

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.

2009-11: Climate Ethics and Climate Equity

Climate Ethics and Climate Equity examined the ethical issues of climate change as well as solutions that focus on equity and environmental justice. Focus topics included food security, ocean impacts of climate change, community projects, energy law, green jobs, and youth and intergenerational equity in the climate crisis.

2007-09: Democracy and Citizenship in the 21st Century

The Wayne Morse Center explored the changing concept of citizenship and democratic process. Topics included international issues, Latin America, the debate over immigration,politics and participation in the United States, race and politics, and broader conceptions of citizenship.

2005-07: Indigenous Peoples: National Policy and International Human Rights

The inquiry on indigenous peoples paid respect to the original occupants of the Americas. Key topics included tribal leadership and development, the role of women, education, cultural preservation, medicine and community health.

2003-05: The Changing Geopolitical Order

Globalization and regionalism have brought profound changes to the sovereign state and implications for peace and stability. This theme explored U.S. foreign policy in this changing world, the response to September 11, the precarious global food supply, international human rights and women and the Iraq war.

2001-03: Race, Class, and the Criminal Justice System

National figures joined Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., in an examination of the death penalty. The inquiry also included a film series, a community forum on policing practices, and programs on restorative justice, women in prison, and children and the law.

2000-01: Labor in a Global Economy

This theme examined the historical, sociological and legal causes and consequences of a shrinking sphere for workers and how the impacts of globalization are filtered through the world of work.

1999-2000: The Rich, the Poor, and American Politics

Frances Fox Piven led the inquiry into the role of money and class issues in U.S. politics. A major thrust was welfare reform. A conference and book on Work, Welfare and Politics highlighted the year.