Socrates Winter Seminars
Socrates Seminars begin with an opening reception on Friday evening, and conclude Monday afternoon following the final seminar session. The weekend program consists of three four-hour seminar sessions with free time and activities each morning. The seminar tuition is $2,000. Scholarships are available by application. Please see below for descriptions of seminar offerings:
The Spiral of Immigration and Nationalism
“We asked for workers,” lamented Swiss writer Max Frisch in 1972. “We got people instead.” In a globalized world where money, goods, and information fluidly cross borders, it is the humanity of immigrants that is at the core of the controversies they inspire. For some, their humanity qualifies them for equal standards of living and treatment. For others, equality threatens status and wealth that took generations of sacrifice to accumulate. Migrants not only cheapen the labor they provide; to many, they cheapen national identity and citizenship. In these ways, immigration is the most polemical and intimately experienced expression of globalization—felt at home, in the workplace, in communities, and through the media. And the dividing lines of public opinion reflect divergent experiences with globalization more broadly, a phenomenon that has made people more and less secure. In this seminar, we seek an stronger, more contextualized understanding of immigration and its accompanying nativist, nationalist backlash. Our goal is to transcend the stereotypes that politicians peddle and develop a nuanced grasp of the trends warping the social, political, and business spheres. Who are the people at the center of our polarizing world? Where does the balance lie? How can immigration work for all?
Moderators: Justin Gest, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government
Learning from Frederick Douglass: The Politics, Business, and Art of America’s Legendary Activist and Leader
Frederick Douglass is the preeminent African American leader of the nineteenth century and one of the nation’s greatest activists, orators, and writers. His speeches, writings, and journalism helped transform the United States from a slave society into a democratic society with “equal protection of the laws.” This course focuses on Douglass’s speeches, journalism, and autobiographical writings. They provide a road map for understanding not only how he evolved as a leader and activist, but for helping us to become better leaders and agents of change. The methods that distinguished Douglass as a leader remain crucial for leaders today. And the critical issues of his time remain critical issues of our time: the meanings of freedom and equality; the function and limits of government; and the ways in which blacks, other minorities, and women alter and transform society or an organization. Each session focuses on a selection of Douglass’s writings that raise critical questions—-in his time and ours—about building and reforming society (or an organization) and mobilizing constituents in order to achieve a stated goal.
Moderator: John Stauffer, the Sumner R. and Marshall S. Kates Professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, is an award-winning teacher and best-selling author of GIANTS: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
The Future of War: Technology, Ideology and Ethics
Seminar discussion will examine a wide range of issues, including technology, special operations, cyber warfare, counter-terrorism, and artificial intelligence, among others. We will address fundamental questions about the rules of war in the 21st century while also digging into the moral and ethical challenges in the new battle spaces.