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Four GC Professors Win Mellon Sawyer Award

How democratic societies can accommodate cultural differences while respecting human rights and gender equality will be the focus of a seminar series in 2012–13 by recipients of the prestigious Mellon Sawyer Award: Carol C. Gould (Prof., Hunter/GC, 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., Hunter/GC, Philosophy).

“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.”

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 into four parts: “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. There will also be funding for two graduate student research assistants drawn from philosophy and political science, as well as a postdoctoral fellow who is pursuing research relevant to the core issues of the proposed seminars.

As envisaged, one seminar meeting in each part will be a longer “mini-conference,” or double seminar, bringing together two speakers, which will be open to public participation. Other seminars in the series will be open to faculty and graduate students from the GC, as well as invited participants from the CUNY colleges and from neighboring universities.

Submitted on: OCT 11, 2011

Category: History, Philosophy, Political Science, Faculty Awards