The Public Humanist

Our blog publishes the voices of many contributors who use the humanities to explore our world. Reader commentary is encouraged. Consider contributing – complete form. Editor David Morgan.

Mammy, Jezebel, and the Neighborhood Drug Dealer

In Search of the Common Good by fellow Public Humanist David Tebaldi talks about America suffering from two anxieties, one of them economic and the other moral. I found this conversation very interesting in light of the work I do as an independent film and theater producer and the president of a nonprofit the Color of Film Collaborative, Inc., a nonprofit that supports independent filmmakers creating more diverse images of people of color in the media and performing arts.

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The Law of Unintended Consequences: A Tale of Two Afghanistans

One never knows what to expect when flying into Kabul International Airport and making one’s way into the bustling capital of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. On my first trip to Afghanistan in 2003 I found the city streets filled with bandolier swathed Northern Alliance fighters, the lamp posts decorated with the ribbons of cassette and video tapes that had been symbolically ‘executed’ by the Taliban moral police, and more burqas than a Taliban ‘Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice’ policeman could shake an iron rod at.

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Countering the Orchestra of Orthodoxies: A UMass Amherst Fulbright Scholar Returns from Qatar

How has the US-led overthrow of Iraq’s former government and ongoing military presence changed American and Middle Eastern societies?Several broad answers are obvious. The 2003 war led Iraqis to more personal andpolitical freedoms. Yet this came alongside widespread death, violence, and insecurity, bringing back the relevance of philosophers like Thomas Hobbes, who prioritize the need for political order over rights and democracy. I

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Educating Us and Them: Breaking Stereotypes and Moving Towards a More Effective Correctional System

I wholeheartedly agree with my colleague, Kristen Bumiller, who argues that increasing access to higher education for people caught up in the criminal justice system could make a world of difference for individuals, their families, and the communities they reside in. Multiple studies have concluded that education is instrumental in reducing recidivism rates by increasing earning potential, and improving self-esteem and decision-making skills.

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Education, Prisons, and Battling Misperceptions

In Massachusetts and across the nation the formerly incarcerated are faced with often-insurmountable obstacles in finding jobs, rebuilding relationships and rejoining communities. The surest way to improve their chances for success is indisputably providing opportunities to pursue a college degree. A college education provides not only skills and credentials, but more importantly, it helps to repair the psychic damage caused by social exclusion.

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A Philosopher’s Calling Card

Every profession gets a standard response. You know, the response you get when you mention your work. Lawyers get the eye-roll. Doctors get the question aboutsore elbows and the like. Teachers get the nod of approval, then expressions of regret at how they’re not valued. I’m a philosophy professor. The response to me? "What do you DO with philosophy, anyway?" I’ve heard it so many times.

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The Limits of Reflection

In the wake of half chagrined confessions that I am a philosophy professor, not infrequently — and positively reliably on cramped airplanes — I’m asked what my personal philosophy is. It’s not an entirely unreasonable question. Philosophers are expected to have developed, or at least be on the way to developing, an articulate view of the world, of right conduct, and of the good life.

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In Search of the Common Good

American society today suffers from two fundamental anxieties. One is economic and has many sources, including the accelerating pace of technological change, the impact ofour economy and ways of life on the environment, the globalization of bothlabor and capital, and worrisome demographic trends. Our other anxiety is moral.

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Putting “Humanities Capital” to Work: The Public Role of Humanities and Humanities Scholars

In the very full arena of public policy discourse, what do humanities scholars have to add to the conversation? On some level, as non-policy experts, the answer would seem to be a simple “nothing” (or, if one is being more generous, “fairly little”).

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Let’s Show ‘Em What a Liberal Arts Education is Good For

I will always love Ralph Nader for publicly validating English majors. I joined the Green party soon after his speech at the First Churches in Northampton in the summer before the fateful 2000 presidential election. He said a lot of things that were sensible, clear, and truthful tome, but he really got me on my feet when he invited all the English majors inthe room to stand up.

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