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Center for Study of Race and Democracy to open at ASU

logo for Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Arizona State University
March 21, 2011

A new center to examine, explain and redefine race and democracy has been established at Arizona State University. U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor will be the keynote speaker for a ceremonial launch scheduled for 11 a.m. March 21 at Coor Hall on ASU’s Tempe Campus. The new center will also host a national conference on March 24-25: “Barack Obama and American Democracy.”

“The goal of the center is to examine race and democracy as a whole,” said Matthew Whitaker, founding director of the center.

The Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at ASU will serve as a hub of scholarly activity and interchange among several departments and schools, including law, political science, English, sociology, anthropology and religious studies, according to Whitaker, an associate professor of history in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“We will examine and discuss race and American democracy, produce research, and analyze public opinion. Through traditional and non-traditional scholarship our efforts will be designed to positively impact race relations and public policy,” Whitaker said.

Congressman Pastor, representing Arizona’s 4th Congressional District, will provide remarks at the ceremonial launch. Pastor, who graduated from ASU with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1966 and a Juris Doctorate in 1974, was first elected to Congress in 1991.

The ceremonial launch is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Among the new center’s research projects is one that focuses on participatory democracy and the American presidency.

“As part of this project, we are hosting a national conference to assess the achievements, failures and possibilities of the presidency of Barack Obama,” said Whitaker.

The conference will feature keynote addresses and panel discussions facilitated by authors and scholars including Catherine Clinton, William Jelani Cobb, Peniel E. Joseph, Jeremy I Levitt, John Stauffer, Rhonda Williams and David K. Yoo.

“This is the second bi-annual symposium on Barack Obama and American democracy,” said Whitaker. “Dr. Peniel Joseph hosted the first conference at Tufts University in 2009. The conference at ASU will examine the first two years of the Obama presidency, and its meaning for democracy in America.

“It will pay close attention to issues of race, gender, class, domestic affairs and foreign policy,” Whitaker said.

Panel topics include “The Obama Doctrine: American Foreign Policy in an Era of War and Peace,” “Imagery, Rhetoric and Media in the Age of Obama,” and “Hope and Change? Assessing Obama’s Domestic Policies.” Yohuru Williams, an associate professor of African American history at Fairfield University, Connecticut, will deliver the closing keynote address.

Also scheduled to speak at the conference are Michael Crow, ASU president, and Elizabeth D. Capaldi, ASU executive vice president and provost.

Conference events will take place at the University Club on ASU’s Tempe campus and at the Mission Palms Hotel in Tempe. Details and registration information are at