In the 2012-2013 academic year, a group of four professors at the CUNY Graduate Center will be holding an interdisciplinary seminar series focused on how democratic societies can be inclusive of a wide range of cultural practices and forms of expression while maintaining a commitment to respecting a secular public sphere, universal human rights, and women’s equality.

“Our co-organizing group believes that understanding can be advanced by focusing on a comparative study especially of United States and European Union policies and norms in regard to the recognition of cultural differences,” the team explained in their proposal, which only select institutions, including the GC, were invited to submit. “And we note that there has been little attention to a more specific aspect of this comparison that we want to especially highlight, that is, the approach to gender issues and to women‘s equal rights within families.”

Carol C. Gould (Dist. Prof., GC, Hunter, Philosophy, Political Science; Director of the Center for Global Ethics and Politics at the Ralph Bunche Institute), Ruth O’Brien (Prof., GC, Political Science), Richard Wolin (Dist. Prof., GC, History), and Omar Dahbour (Assoc. Prof., GC, Hunter Philosophy) are the recipients of this prestigious and highly competitive Mellon Sawyer Award.

The team’s award-winning proposal, titled Democratic Citizenship and the Recognition of Cultural Differences, is worth up to $250,000, granted by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Sawyer Seminars program, which provides support for comparative research on the historical and cultural sources of contemporary developments. The twelve seminars in the series, to be offered between the fall and spring of 2012–13, will be organized around four general themes: “Islamic Law and Muslim Cultural Practices”; “Types of Liberal Democracies”; “Theories of Inclusion, Practices of Exclusion, and Multicultural Democratic Citizenship”; and “Relating Public and Private, Equal Rights and Cultural Difference.”  Among the speakers will be distinguished professors or named chairs in their field, as well as others who bring special expertise to the topics at hand. The directors will work with two graduate student research assistants and a postdoctoral fellow who will pursue research relevant to the core issues of the proposed seminars.

A current schedule of the Seminar Series is available here.

 

Photo by Flickr user mikecogh, used under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.