The Lisska Center provides thought-provoking programming and intellectual conversation for both students and faculty. In the fall of 2021, these programs encircled a theme of dialogue and debate across difference, and included:

November 8, 2021

The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth: A Monday Musings conversation moderated by professors Steve Vogel and Adam Davis with Jonathan Rauch, contributing writer at The Atlantic and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, about his new book, The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth.

While charting the alarming rise of disinformation in the digital age and its corrosive effects on democratic culture, Rauch shares historical precedents, and offers positive practical measures that every concerned American can take. He will explain why he believes universities must play a central role in promoting intellectual pluralism and freedom of thought, thereby helping to sustain liberal society.

October 25, 2021

Reclaiming Patriotism in an Age of Extremes A Monday Musings conversation moderated by Adam Davis with Steven Smith (Yale Univ., Polit. Science) about his new book, Reclaiming Patriotism in an Age of Extremes (Yale UP, 2021).

The concept of patriotism has fallen on hard times. What was once a value that united Americans has become so politicized by both the left and the right that it threatens to rip apart the social fabric. On the right, patriotism has become synonymous with nationalism and an “us versus them” worldview, while on the left it is seen as an impediment to acknowledging important ethnic, religious, or racial identities and a threat to cosmopolitan globalism. Smith reclaims patriotism from these extremist positions and advocates for a patriotism that is broad enough to balance loyalty to country against other loyalties.

October 14, 2021

Braver Angels Debate

Denison University students, faculty and community members are invited to join a respectful conversation touching all sides of a challenging issue, “Should colleges impose limits on speech on their campuses?” Braver Angels debates are non-confrontational and not competitive, but are designed to encourage participants to think deeply, express personal viewpoints, and gain greater insight into others’ points of view. Sponsored by the Denison Debate Society and the Lisska Center for Intellectual Engagement, this debate is brought to you with the support of a partnership of Braver Angels, BridgeUSA, and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), non-profit organizations that believe in the power of free expression and respectful exchange of ideas on America’s college campuses.

September 27, 2021

Minds Wide Shut: How the New Fundamentalisms Divide Us All-campus symposium with Pres. Morton Schapiro (Northwestern U.) and Prof. Gary Morson (Russian Lit., Northwestern) moderated by Diana Mafe and Adam Davis, followed by a faculty panel discussion (Sam Cowling, Veerenda Lele, May Mei, Heather Pool).

In Minds Wide Shut, Morton and Schapiro examine how rigid adherence to ideological thinking has altered politics, economics, religion, and literature in ways that are mutually reinforcing and antithetical to the open-mindedness and readiness to compromise that animate democracy. In response, they propose alternatives that would again make serious dialogue possible.

December 9, 2021