UW School of Music: Carillon TowerEstablished in the Sociology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1984, the A. E. Havens Center for the Study of Social Justice is dedicated to promoting critical intellectual reflection and exchange, both within the academy as well as between it and the broader society. The Center is named in honor of the late Professor of Rural Sociology, A. Eugene Havens, whose life and work embodied the combination of progressive political commitment and scholarly rigor that the Center encourages.

The traditional tasks of critical social thought have been to analyze the sources of inequality and injustice in existing social arrangements, to suggest both practical and utopian alternatives to those arrangements, and to identify and learn from the many social movements seeking progressive social and political change. These tasks are as relevant today as ever. Indeed, we face a variety of challenges, both new and enduring, that demand creative critical reflection. These include the increasingly integrated and global character of capitalist economic development, the durability of racial and gender oppressions, the threats of global environmental catastrophe, and the failure of many traditional models of progressive reform.

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Upcoming events

Naming Genocide

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Thomas Pegelow Kaplan
"Protesters, Imageries of Mass Murder, and the Remaking of Memory in West Germany and the United States?”
Thursday, October 9, 4pm, 8417 Social Science

Co-sponsored by the Center for German and European Studies

THOMAS PEGELOW KAPLAN is Associate Professor of modern European history at Davidson College, NC. His research focuses on histories of violence, language, and culture of Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe and the 1960s global youth revolts. He is the author of The Language of Nazi Genocide: Linguistic Violence and the Struggle of Germans of Jewish Ancestry (Cambridge University Press), which explores how words preceded, accompanied, and made mass murder possible. He is currently completing a book on the interactions between leftist protest movements in West Germany and the United States from the 1950s until the early 1980s, their changing imageries of past and current mass crimes, and their impact on national and transnational memory cultures.

“Against the Public”: Teachers, Unions, and the Decline of Labor-Liberalism in the 1970s

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Jon Shelton
“Teacher Strikes, the Public Interest, and the Neoliberal Turn of the 1970s”
Tuesday, October 14, 4pm, 206 Ingraham Hall
“‘Compulsory Unionism’ in the Public Sector: Free Market Activism and the Eclipse of Labor-Liberalism”
Wednesday, October 15, 4pm, 8417 Social Science
Open Seminar for Students, Faculty and Public
Thursday, October 16, 12:20 pm, 8108 Social Science

Co-sponsored by Global Studies

JON SHELTON is Assistant Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where he teaches courses on modern American history, labor history, and the history of education.  He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2013, and his dissertation—Against the Public: Teacher Strikes and the Decline of Liberalism, 1968-81—recently won the Labor and Working Class History Association’s 2013 Herbert Gutman Award for Outstanding Dissertation.  

READINGS: 

Havens Center Award For Lifetime Contribution To Critical Scholarship

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Barbara Ehrenreich
"Looking Back, Looking Forward: A Conversation between Barbara Ehrenreich and Matt Rothschild”
Thursday, October 23, 7pm, location TBA

The Havens Center's Award for Lifetime Contribution to Critical Scholarship is given to individuals who have combined in their work and careers a strong commitment to social justice with intellectually rigorous scholarship. Barbara Ehrenreich is the fifth recipient of the Award. Past recipients have included Frances Fox Piven, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and Eduardo Galeano.  

BARBARA EHRENREICH is the author of 21 books, including The New York Times best sellers, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2001) and Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America (2010). Ehrenreich’s latest release, Living with a Wild God (2014) is a brave and honest memoir unlike anything she’s written before. In it, she reconstructs her childhood mission, bringing an older woman’s wry and erudite perspective to a young girl’s impassioned obsession with the questions that torment us all. The result is a searing memoir and a profound reflection on science, religion, and the human condition. Ehrenreich is also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Harpers, The Progressive magazine, and Time magazine, and has appeared on Oprah, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and The Joy Behar Show, to name a few. Before becoming an activist, Ehrenreich studied cell biology and physics, graduating with a degree in physics from Reed College in 1963 and a Ph.D. in cell biology from Rockefeller University in 1968. However, after completing her studies, Ehrenreich became involved in the anti-Vietnam war movement and began to question whether she wanted to spend her life at the laboratory bench. Ultimately, she chose to turn her attention to political and anti-war activism. Over time, her work life settled into three tracks, which continue to this day: journalism, book-length projects, and activism on such issues as health care, peace, women’s rights, and economic justice.

MATT ROTHSCHILD is the senior editor of The Progressive magazine, where he has worked since 1983. He was editor-in-chief from 1994 to September 2013, and publisher for most of the period from 1989-2013. He also served as associate editor and managing editor. Prior to coming to The Progressive, he worked as the editor of Multinational Monitor, a magazine founded by Ralph Nader. Rothschild is the author of You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression (New Press, 2007), and the editor of Democracy in Print: The Best of The Progressive, 1909-2009 (University of Wisconsin Press, 2009).

The Schools We Need: The Pursuit of Equity and Justice in American Education

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Pedro Noguera
“Education and Civil Rights in the 21st Century”
Wednesday, October 29, 4pm, 206 Ingraham Hall
Open Seminar for Students, Faculty and Public
Thursday, October 30, 12:20pm, 8108 Social Science
“Transforming Schools: The limits and Possibilities of School Reform”
Thursday, October 30, 4pm, 8417 Social Science

PEDRO NOGUERA is the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University. Dr. Noguera’s scholarship and research focus on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions and the factors that obstruct and promote student achievement. He is the author of several books, including: The Imperatives of Power: Political Change and the Social Basis of Regime Support in Grenada; City Schools and the American Dream; Unfinished Business: Closing the Achievement Gap in Our Nation’s Schools; The Trouble With Black Boys…and Other Reflections on Race, Equity and the Future of Public Education; Creating the Opportunity to Learn; Invisible No More: Understanding and Responding to the Disenfranchisement of Latino Males; and Schooling for Resilience. 

Philosophy & the Contemporary World

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Alain Badiou
"Is Philosophy Able to Think the Present?"
Tuesday, December 9, 7:30pm, Elvehjem L160
"The Ideological Structure of the Contemporary World"
Wednesday, December 10, 7:30pm, Elvehjem L160
Open Seminar for Students, Faculty and Public
Thursday, December 11, 12:20pm, 8108 Social Science

Co-sponsored by the UW Center for the Humanities and the UW Philosophy Department

ALAIN BADIOU holds the Rene Descartes Chair at the European Graduate School (EGS). Badiou was a student at the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in the 1950s. He taught at the University of Paris VIII (Vincennes-Saint Denis) from 1969 until 1999, when he returned to ENS as the Chair of the philosophy department. He continues to teach a popular seminar at the Collège International de Philosophie, on topics ranging from the great 'antiphilosophers' (Saint-Paul, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Lacan) to the major conceptual innovations of the twentieth century. Much of Badiou's life has been shaped by his dedication to the consequences of the May 1968 revolt in Paris. He is the author of several successful novels and plays as well as more than a dozen philosophical works.