Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life Cluster

allbrittonAs you navigate pre-registration, don’t miss out on this new cluster of courses facilitated by the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life! Check out the description of the cluster below, and apply by April 7th for this amazing academic opportunity:

The Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life invites applications from students in all majors for a new program to begin in Fall 2014 that will engage twenty students in a Cluster of three one-credit courses, a year-long collaborative research project, and a range of associated lectures and academic and social activities through the academic year.

This first Cluster is organized around the theme of centralization and decentralization in both economic and political life. This is an issue of special salience in the twenty-first century, as citizens in the U.S., the former Soviet Union, the European Union and emerging nations elsewhere debate the proper relation between local and central governments in a range of political and economic contexts.

Two of the courses in the Cluster are sections of regular Wesleyan courses taught in the Fall semester, Professor Finn’s GOVT 203 and Professor Adelstein’s ECON 254, in each of which ten places will be reserved for Cluster students (section 2 of each course). Cluster students must take at least one of these courses, though they may take both if they are admitted to the other course through regular procedures. The third course, CSPL 320-321, is required of all Cluster students and will be a year-long, team-taught (Adelstein & Finn) research seminar on the themes of the Cluster, with one-half credit awarded each semester. Here, students will explore various approaches to the Cluster theme, hear relevant lectures from invited guests from within and without the academy, and split into small, coordinated groups to embark on sustained collaborative research projects that each focus on some aspect of the problem of centralizing or decentralizing economic and political life. The seminar will culminate in a public presentation of the work and a volume of collaborative essays on specific themes and topics that might be published by a scholarly press.

GOVT 203 will be Finn’s course in American Constitutional Law, with special emphasis and readings on the problem of federalism in the United States and select other constitutional democracies, while Adelstein’s ECON 254, State and Economy in Industrial America, 1870-1940, will examine the rapid emergence of large manufacturing firms in the United States after 1870 and the nation’s political, legal and ideological response to them. But while both these courses largely focus on the United States and draw heavily on the past, the theme of the Cluster is meant to be more inclusive, and more relevant to contemporary issues and problems.

We hope that students will use the perspectives gained in these two courses not only to look more deeply into how American economic and political life have been organized in the past, but to address urgent questions for the present from around the world. How should the US be governed in the next century? What is the future of the EU? What can be learned from the disappearance of the USSR or the unification of Germany? Should Scotland secede from the UK? How can artificially created, deeply divided countries everywhere be governed or restructured? Nor need all the questions be political. How do big firms differ from small ones, and why do some firms grow large while others stay small? What are the political or moral consequences of economic concentration? How can multinational firms be governed and regulated? What might an antitrust law do to concentrate or disperse power?

We hope to attract students from all majors who are strongly interested in the Cluster’s theme and prepared to work steadily over the year to learn more about the complex and difficult questions the theme raises and present their learning in a substantial collaborative research project.

To learn more about the application process, visit the program website here.

Jelisa Adair

I am the Civic Engagement Fellow for 2013-2014. While a student at Wesleyan I double majored in Psychology and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and completed a joint thesis during my senior year. I am interested in issues of social justice, mental health, media, and global welfare.