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Crisis into creativity

“Pandemic Dialogues” webinars to discuss great works of philosophy, lit.
Thursday webinar on imagination is part of new Social Distancing Socials.
March 31, 2020

ASU scholars explore how trying times influence creative minds

For advice during the present COVID-19 crisis, we need look no further than Shakespeare: “Have patience and endure.”

The line comes from “Much Ado About Nothing” and is spoken by Friar Francis to the bewildered Hero after she is suddenly left alone at the altar on her wedding day. But the sentiment is likely something the Bard of Avon learned from experience — his life was marked by several plague outbreaks, during which he often passed the time in isolation by writing.

In fact, a recent article on the subject quoted ASU Foundation Professor Jonathan Bate’s biography of Shakespeare, “Soul of the Age,” which reads, “Plague was the single most powerful force shaping his life and those of his contemporaries.”

And they’re not the only ones. Across time and space, some of the most reflective and enduring narratives were inspired by such widespread crises. Now, thanks to the magic of the internet, students and scholars across Arizona State University will be able to maintain social distancing measures while exploring the relationship between crisis and creativity.

This Thursday, Ed Finn, director of the Center for Science and the Imagination, and Torie Bosch, editor of Future Tense, will host a webinar titled “When Crises Unleash Your Imagination” as part of a new, biweekly series of interactive conversations via Zoom, called Social Distancing Socials.

And beginning Monday, April 6, ASU’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership will be hosting “Pandemic Dialogues: Conversations on Civic Crisis,” a series of live webinars, each discussing a great work of philosophy or literature on pandemics and civic crisis, as well as a podcast series discussing Camus’s novel “The Plague.”

“From one perspective, life is always a crisis and art is always a response to that crisis,” Finn said. “We’re always trying to make meaning and beauty out of all the things we’re struggling through.”

One example of that is Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” Finn is the co-director of the Frankenstein Bicentennial Project, an initiative that engaged scholars at ASU with the public around issues of science, technology and creative responsibility.

“Frankenstein is absolutely an example of art coming out of suffering,” Finn said.

Shelley wrote the novel while shut up for the entire summer of 1816 in a house at Lake Geneva in Switzerland with a group of fellow writers. Their isolation was due to the volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora, which was so massive it caused a change in global weather patterns, resulting in crop failure and famine. Combined with the personal traumas Shelley had withstood throughout her life — her own mother died giving birth to her and Shelley herself lost a baby in infancy — she had plenty of fodder for a novel that contemplates life, death and suffering.

“The art that people create out of isolation or out of extreme events is sometimes a way of processing those events,” Finn said. “Sometimes it’s about sharing an experience with other people, whether to normalize it or even just to name it, that process is really important.”

Storytelling can also be a way of coping via distraction, said Ian Moulton, professor of English and cultural history in ASU's College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. For example, in Italian scholar Giovanni Boccaccio’s “The Decameron” (which will be the focus of SCETL’s second “Pandemic Dialogues” webinar), a group of 10 wealthy young people tell each other stories to pass the time while quarantined in a Tuscan villa during the Bubonic plague.

“It’s kind of like how we’re binge-watching nowadays,” Moulton said. “We need some space from dealing with the unpleasant realities that we can do little about, and that seem random and meaningless.”

And it’s not just consumption of creative works that serves as a healthy distraction, but the creation of them.

“In some cases, great crises have led people to the most extraordinary creativity,” said Bate, noting that Shakespeare was primarily an actor before an outbreak of plague in 1592 shut down theaters across London, causing him to stay home and develop his skills writing poetry.

One of the first plays he wrote after the theaters reopened was “Romeo and Juliet,” a key plot point of which has to do with plague: The reason Romeo does not know that Juliet is only sleeping and not dead is because the messenger charged with delivering that information to him was quarantined before he had the chance. Later in Shakespeare’s career, when plague once again sent him into isolation, he began writing long, profound tragedies like “King Lear.”

Though challenging times can indeed engender more somber narratives, Finn for one takes heart in the belief that any creative endeavor is a testament to humankind’s willingness to continue imagining new outcomes.

“The biggest silver lining I’ve seen in the pandemic we’re living through right now is that we’re using our imaginations to think of other people more,” he said. “A lot of people are making choices, sometimes drastic choices, in an effort to protect strangers, people they might never meet. That kind of imagination is fundamental if we’re going to survive not just this pandemic but all the other challenges coming our way. Things like climate change require us to imagine a responsibility for others that goes beyond just close family and friends.

“We’re starting to do that, and we’re seeing what’s possible; we’ve already massively reduced our carbon footprint, the California government is talking about housing the homeless, we’re having conversations about sick leave and medical care that would never have happened before. … I just hope we can come out of this hanging onto that shared sense of responsibility.”

Top photo courtesy of Pixabay

Emergency changes to occupational licensing laws should persist after pandemic, expert says

March 27, 2020

The demand for doctors and nurses has been growing for years, but it’s never been more urgent since the sudden arrival of the COVID-19 virus in the U.S.

States are looking for ways to get more medical professionals to the front lines of the fight against the spread of the virus. Doctors and nurses in many states have come out of retirement. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Yet, it is hard to quickly increase the number of doctors or other medical professionals in a state because state laws make it difficult for medical professionals to simply move into and quickly begin to practice — temporarily or otherwise — in a new state.

To better understand how states can address the current and future pandemics, we talked to Stephen Slivinski, senior research fellow for Arizona State University's Center for the Study of Economic Liberty.

Stephen Slivinski

Question: What are some challenges that prevent states from increasing the number of medical professionals in a state to assist in this pandemic?

Answer: States require a license to operate in many occupations — like a doctor or lawyer, but also very often those that don’t require a college diploma, like a barber or a landscape worker, for instance. Even if you have a license in your state of origin, moving to a new state often means having to get a whole new occupational license. This requires lots of time, particularly in terms of required training hours that may be unnecessarily duplicative. That could mean substantial time out of the workforce and discourages voluntary movement of workers from one place to another. In the case of the fight against the novel coronavirus, it consumes time that many patients and doctors simply don’t have.

Q: Is there a solution to this problem? 

A: There is a solution to this problem. It’s an idea that began to gain popularity before the widespread appearance of COVID-19. It’s an idea that I discuss and explain in my newest study from the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty at ASU: “You Can Take It With You: A Case for Occupational Licensing Reciprocity.”

Q: What is universal license reciprocity?

A: Perhaps better described as “universal license recognition,” this is when a state agrees to recognize a license in good standing from another state and grants a new state license to allow the new resident to work immediately. It’s the equivalent of how states treat driver’s licenses from other states, except in this case for occupational licenses.

Q: Are any states using universal license recognition to assist in the pandemic?

A: Massachusetts, Maryland and Colorado are just three of more than a dozen states that have quickly transitioned to some form of universal recognition of medical licenses over the past few weeks. In their current form, these are only temporary — it has the force of law as long as the executive orders that mandated this policy change remain in effect.

A more durable and long-lasting universal recognition of out-of-state license will require change of state law once legislatures return to regular order. At that time, states — like Utah, for example — can follow the lead of states like Arizona and Pennsylvania that have already passed such a reform.

Q: Why is universal license recognition important?

A: Universal recognition of licenses isn’t just an important response to a radically increased demand for medical professionals in a pandemic. It will also be important to many other types of workers once the pandemic passes. It’s too early to tell what the economy will look like when that happens. The economic consequences of differing responses state governments have taken to slow spread of the virus will impact each state differently. Consequently, the economic recovery will be just as varied.

Therefore, when the freedom of movement has been restored and things begin to get back to normal, discouraging people from moving to where the best economic opportunities for them are will hinder both their economic well-being and that of states as a whole. Keeping occupational licensing barriers in place would be like instituting a different form of “shelter in place” — this time, it would be one of an economic sort by restricting their job opportunities and their economic mobility.

We will learn many lessons as a result of this period in history. Hopefully one of them will be the benefits a reduction in the barriers that occupational licensing policies create — not just today in the fight against the coronavirus, but in the future as a means to increase human well-being.

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

ASU In the News

Utah has become a national leader on occupational licensing reform

The Utah Legislature just passed Senate Bill 23, which implements several significant reforms to current licensing laws.

Utah joins Arizona in taking the lead to make it easier to move into their state, and several other states have proposed similar laws. Arizona became the first state to accept out-of-state licenses last year, and it's already making an impact. In that first year, over 750 people have used the law to take their talents to Arizona. That’s 750 more professionals, plus their spouses and children, who were able to move for a better life for themselves and join communities and grow the local economy. Utah Senate floor is viewed during the Utah legislative session in Salt Lake City (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) In this Jan. 27 photo, the Utah Senate floor is viewed during the Utah legislative session in Salt Lake City.

In addition to breaking down barriers for individuals looking to move to Utah, the legislation also makes important reforms for current residents who may have made a mistake in their past. Overly broad "good moral character" provisions from licensing requirements are removed for many professions.

Having good moral character is important, whether we’re talking about a friend or a professional service provider. However, in practice this provision is used to exclude qualified professionals for past mistakes that are unrelated to the service they provide. It hurts the formerly incarcerated trying to turn their lives around and increases recidivism, according to a policy report by the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty.

Article Source: The Salt Lake Tribune

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

5 facts about Arizona's birthday you didn't know

Valentine's Day isn't just a day of romance, it's the day the 48th state joined the union

February 12, 2020

Editor’s note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now’s year in review. Read more top stories from 2020.

Feb. 14, 2020, marks the 108th birthday for the state of Arizona. To commemorate the state's rich history, Sean Beienburg, an assistant professor at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership and an expert on Arizona’s founding, constitution and history, has identified five little known facts about the state’s origins and early years. Arizona State flag with a blue sky in the background "Arizona flag" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 Download Full Image

1. President Taft thought Arizona’s constitution was “legalized terrorism” and initially prevented statehood

Article 8 of the proposed Arizona Constitution established protocols for recalling elective officials, including judges. For President William Howard Taft, a former and future judge, this was unacceptable. He called it “legalized terrorism” and blocked Arizona from becoming a state.

By a 9-to-1 vote, Arizona voters dutifully added a clause to their recall section, clarifying that it was for all elective officials “except members of the judiciary.” Taft then approved statehood, but once Arizona secured its status in the union, the state legislature moved to restore the judicial recall provision, with a provocative title: “An Act to Amend Sec 1 of Article VIII of the Constitution of the State of Arizona as adopted under coercion, (directed by William Howard Taft, President of the United States).”

2. The Arizona flag was created for a rifle competition

The flag’s design resulted from the not-quite-yet state feeling left out. In 1910, an Arizona rifle team competed in a marksmanship contest in Ohio. Among the sharpshooters was future congressman and senator Carl Hayden. (Hayden Library is named after Carl’s father, Charles Hayden, a Tempe founder). Charles Harris, the future adjutant general of the state’s national guard and another member of the team, was primarily responsible for the design (with possible help from Hayden), and Nan Hayden, Carl’s wife, sewed the first official flag, which was adopted by the state legislature in 1917.

The central star recognizes the importance of copper and the setting sun has 13 rays as a nod to the original American colonies. Like New Mexico’s flag, the rays bear the colors of the Spanish banner brought by Francisco Coronado to the area in 1540.

3. No reptiles were allowed in the Arizona seal

The design of the Arizona seal — which is actually the center of ASU’s formal seal — is specifically laid out by the Arizona Constitution (Article 22, Section 20). It replaced the territorial seal, which had featured a deer in front of a cactus. Morris Goldwater, the vice president of the convention (and Barry’s uncle), argued they should keep it: “Any man who has lived in this territory under the present seal as long as I have can continue to live with it until he dies, without hurting himself.”

However, convention delegate E. E. Ellinwood argued that the new seal should “get away from cactus, Gila monsters, and rattlesnakes ” and focus on the state’s developing industries, and so a miner, a cow, a mill, a farm and a dam became the symbols of Arizona. The constitution did not change everything on the seal: It still retains the Latin state motto, “Ditat deus,” or God enriches.

4. The Arizona Senate once voted to destroy itself

In June 1912, in the first special session of the state legislature, the state Senate voted to commit “suicide,” as the local papers described it. Not literally, but in the sense of dissolving the body in which they served.

Many Progressive Era critics of James Madison’s system of complicated checks and balances argued the government should be made simpler, with fewer structures to obstruct the popular will. They argued, in other words, to have the system rebalanced to lean more toward efficiency instead of the Madisonian preference for liberty. To that end, the Senate proposed that Arizona’s progressive constitution should be made even more like direct democracy through a unicameral legislature — or a legislature with just one body, not two.

The state’s newspapers had great fun with this, but not as much as the House of Representatives. Members proposed a variety of sarcastic amendments to the Senate abolition proposal, such as giving the “County of Hunt” — as in Gov. George Hunt — a vote, but others proposed banning either all the members of the Senate from voting in the future or stripping representation from the county whose members had most fervently backed the proposal.

A citizen initiative to abolish the state Senate failed by an almost 2-to-1 margin in 1916, and, like all states except Nebraska, Arizona retains two legislative houses.

5. Arizona’s first chief executive was like George Washington — if Washington had sought to be president for life

Like George Washington did for the federal government, Hunt served as the president of the Arizona constitutional convention and then as the state’s first chief executive.

Unlike Washington, however, who declined to run after eight years in office to make clear that leadership was temporary, Hunt ran repeatedly almost until his death, serving a total of seven, two-year terms between 1912 and 1933. This included coming back after several defeats, including suing his way into office after Republican Thomas Campbell, who had initially been declared the winner, had served for almost a year.

The Arizona governorship was so tightly connected to Hunt that, in 1931, writer Will Rogers jokingly asked to be adopted by Hunt, since Arizona evidently had a “hereditary” governorship. Hunt’s final loss was a defeat by fellow Democrat Benjamin Mouer, and Hunt died soon after. But perhaps viewing himself as a pharaoh of old, Hunt had himself buried in a white pyramidal tomb overlooking the Valley, which you can visit in Papago Park.

Professor Sean Beienburg, an assistant professor at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, is in the process of developing a living repository for the state of Arizona, documenting and preserving founding documents, mementos and firsthand accounts from the state’s founding moments as part of the Arizona Constitution Project. When completed, the repository will be a free resource for Arizona citizens and constitutional scholars to study Arizona’s founding. 

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Annual MLK Day lecture considers range of perspectives on activism

January 23, 2020

Scholars discuss intellectual, ideological diversity of civil rights movement at ASU

Two of the nation’s most respected scholars of race and politics visited Arizona State University’s Tempe campus Wednesday to participate in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership’s third annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day lecture, “Citizenship and the African American Experience.”

The lecture is part of the school’s continued efforts to foster civic discourse, featuring a variety of public programming and dialogues.

School Director Paul Carrese welcomed a crowd of nearly 100 faculty, students and community members before introducing the invited speakers, Angela Dillard, the Richard A. Meisler Collegiate Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan, and Peter Myers, professor of political science and U.S. constitutional law at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Carrese noted that earlier in the day, the scholars had visited with students and faculty on campus, where they had viewed the Civics Classics Collection at the recently remodeled Hayden Library. The collection is a collaboration between the library and the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership to build a body of rare books and manuscripts intended to support the school’s mission of civic education through use in classroom environments and public programming.

The collection includes copies of King’s first two books, “Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story” and “Strength to Love,” as well as a first edition of the autobiography of Frederick Douglass, another civil rights leader who was discussed at Wednesday evening’s lecture.

“The Martin Luther King books help to tell the story of political figure who had enormous influence, even though he was never elected to political office,” Carrese said.

The focus of the lecture was how “the civil rights movement was marked by an intellectual and ideological diversity that incorporated a wide range of perspectives in debates about the nature of citizenship and the ‘proper’ strategies for civil rights activism.”

In her introductory remarks, Dillard discussed some of the topics and figures she will explore in her forthcoming book, “Civil Rights Conservatism,” which she said highlights the extraordinary diversity in black political culture. Among those featured in her book are: James Meredith, the first African American admitted to the University of Mississippi, known for his opposition to affirmative action; Mildred Jefferson, the first African American woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School; and Joseph H. Jackson, whom Dillard called “one of the most influential civil rights activists you’ve probably never heard of,” notable for his denouncement of King and the demonstrations he employed.

Dillard’s book also addresses what she refers to as the problem with monumental history, wherein historical moments become so revered that facts become distorted.

“The (March on Washington) has been so broadly celebrated today that it’s easy to forget how divisive it was in 1963: 22% of the population had a favorable view of the march, while 63% of the population had an unfavorable view,” she said, adding that the efficacy of the march was even debated within the NAACP.

Myers began his address with a question he asks of students in his American political thought course: What is America’s birth year?

“Answers vary,” Myers said. “Some say 1776The United States Declaration of Independence was ratified on July 4, 1776. or 1787The Constitution of the United States was signed by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on Sept. 17, 1787.. Some say 1492Italian explorer Christopher Columbus introduced the Americas to Western Europe during his four voyages to the region, beginning in 1492. or 1607Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America, was founded in May of 1607.. Some say 1865In 1865, the American Civil War ended with the surrender of the Confederate States, beginning the Reconstruction era of U.S. history.. Every once in a while, some say 1954In 1954, racial segregation in public schools was declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in Brown vs. the Board of Education.. But to the best of my recollection, no one yet has said 1619. I expect that will change.”

Myers was referring to The New York Times’ 1619 Project, an ongoing endeavor that began in 2019, 400 years after the arrival of the first enslaved people in America from West Africa. The project means to reexamine the legacy of slavery in the United States.

The project was met with criticism in the form of a letter to The Times from a group of historians expressing their reservations about its intention “to offer a new version of American history in which slavery and white supremacy become the dominant organizing themes,” and The Times’ plan to make the project available to schools in the form of curriculums.

Carrese asked Dillard and Meyers what they thought of the project.

“I’m a huge fan,” Dillard said. “I love it because it’s public history. It was a project put together to be able to say that we want to harness professional historians and speak to a larger public, repair some of the damage that’s been done in the American educational system for how slavery is taught or not taught … but it also tells the lived experiences of the African Americans themselves.”

Later, during the audience question and answer session, an attendee asked whether Dillard and Myers agreed with the historians’ concerns that using The Times' project as curriculum in schools might obfuscate the more positive aspects that played a role in America’s founding.

“Our job as educators is to tell the truth as best and as honestly as we can understand it,” Myers said, and that means teaching opposing arguments and contradictions, as well.

For the past two centuries, Myers said, the two greatest advocates of justice and race relations have been Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr. In their speeches, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” and “I Have A Dream,” respectively, “both ask the questions: Who are the true sons of the fathers? Who are the legitimate offspring of the founders? They answer, not the slave owners and segregationists but the abolitionists and the integrationists.”

Other civil rights leaders felt differently about the founders, such as Malcom X. “How marginal was a figure like him,” Carrese asked, in his opinion that there was nothing of value in the Constitution for black leaders?

“The relationship of African American thinkers, artists, activists and leaders to the past is fraught,” Dillard said. They have to ask questions like, “Is this our past? Is there something usable there? Is there something about which we can be critical but still salvage something of value?

“There are a range of positions. Malcom X famously said you didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on you. It’s a clever, relatable quip but it’s a serious position to take to say that we are the people under that rock, this is not part of our own heritage. And it’s hard to find a figure whose relationship to the past isn’t contradictory.”

And King was no exception. He wrote sometimes about being the “good son” of the founders, Dillard said. “Other times, he said the dream has become a nightmare. … So one speech doesn’t define everything they have to say about a topic that is so complex and so deeply vexing.”

Top photo: School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership founding director Paul Carrese (left) moderates a discussion with Angela Dillard, a professor at the University of Michigan, and Peter Myers, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, during the school's annual Martin Luther King Day lecture, Citizenship and the African American Experience, on Wednesday, Jan. 22, at Carson Ballroom. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

ASU In the News

A fresh look at Adam Smith and T. Robert Malthus

In an article, Ross Emmett, director of the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty and professor of political economy in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University, discusses the similarities between two great thinkers: Adam Smith and Thomas Robert Malthus.

Both Smith and Malthus are often associated with ideas they did not espouse. Smith is accused of advocating that Gordon Gekko line of thought “greed is good” and the corollary that capitalism’s success is built on its reliance on human selfishness. Malthus, for his part, is associated primarily with the notion that human population growth inevitably pushes at the limits of our food and natural resources, leading to overpopulation and the Malthusian Catastrophe. T. Robert Malthus

While many liberty-loving economists are happy to correct the criticisms of Smith, many are equally happy to criticize Malthus for the Malthusian trap, not realizing that the usual portrayal of Malthus is equally false. Malthus shares far more with Smith than most expect.

Like any two great thinkers, there are inevitably differences of opinion between Smith and Malthus. While Smith sought to articulate an optimal civilizational context, Malthus turned his attention to existing arrangements, seeking to learn how institutions like markets, customs, rules, social mores, marriage and government regulation shaped the civilizational context within which its people carried out the ordinary business of life.

Article Source: Adam Smith Works

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

Philosophy, honors student graduates despite life obstacles

December 6, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2019 commencement.

John Dreyfus always wanted to attend college but when it came time to graduate high school, his plans changed. He graduated high school at 17 and wouldn’t turn 18 until a few months into his first semester at college. Without either of his parents signing the paperwork, he was unable to enroll. John Dreyfus with Kyrsten Sinema John Dreyfus with Kyrsten Sinema at her new office on Camelback Road. Photo courtesy of John Dreyfus Download Full Image

Life kept going until one fall day in 1981 when he was riding his motorcycle in Tempe. Dreyfus was looking for a sandwich shop and turned on to University Drive to find himself face to face with Arizona State University. He said he wanted to sign up right at that moment. But he had no idea how to afford the costs of living and attending school and had to put the idea of school on the back burner once again.

Then a few years ago, Dreyfus became disabled and was offered vocational rehabilitation which he was able to turn into an opportunity to finally attend ASU.

Dreyfus is graduating this semester with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and a concentration in morality, politics and law. We caught up with him to ask a few questions about his time at ASU.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? (Might be while you were at ASU or earlier.)

Answer: I took a class called “Introduction to Philosophy” at Phoenix College and Dr. Eddie Genna taught about the ship of Theseus and I was hooked on philosophy. I received a scholarship for 60 credits deferred at any Arizona state university through Phi Theta Kappa and ASU offers a degree in philosophy, morality, politics and law. My four favorite subjects rolled into one. 

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Asking which professor taught me the most is like asking which child is my favorite. I have learned so much from all of them. The professor I have had the most involvement with is Dr. Cheshire Calhoun. I took two classes with her in my first semester and she was my Barrett honors thesis chair. Dr. Jennet Kirkpatrick was a committee member and I took a class with her. She was also supportive of my efforts and mentored me to a point. Dr. Joan McGregor introduced me to the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, which presents speakers and debates. I attended several of those and thoroughly enjoyed them. Dr. Thad Botham taught me that I could survive an onslaught of information at the beginning of a semester and still succeed in classes. Dr. Steven Reynolds allowed me to adapt his lessons in metaphysics to my life experiences. 

Recently, Susan Corey’s death penalty class has given me added impetus to defend people in civil rights settings, especially people with few assets or mental disabilities.

Through Barrett I was able to take classes at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Several of the instructors there have helped me immensely and one (instructor) is writing a letter of recommendation to ASU Law, which has always been my goal. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: The advice I give to all the friends I have made at ASU in their last semesters is: Make the world a better place.   

Q: What is your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: In the spring of 2019, I had classes on Monday and Wednesday that put me at Cady Mall for several hours in the afternoon. I would read or study and eat lunch. I enjoyed watching events that took place there and the people who would make speeches and the audience members who would argue back. It was enjoyable.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I am applying to ASU Law with hopes of joining the Maricopa County public defender’s office and work in the Rule 11 setting, or possibly the death penalty team in the advocate office. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: If someone gave me $40 million I would try to build a housing project to give homeless people a place to live. I would also attract psychologists, attorneys, counselors and medical professionals to donate time and services to help people succeed in living in structured situations.

Rachel Bunning

Communications program coordinator, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

ASU In the News

Pennsylvania's occupational licensing reforms would lower barriers for ex-offenders; more reforms needed

As several states address criminal justice reform and recidivism, Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering a policy change to the commonwealth’s occupational licensing laws, which currently forbid ex-offenders from attaining certain licenses.

An estimated one in three American adults have a criminal record. In Pennsylvania, approximately 4 to 5% of adult residents had a felony conviction as of 2010. Access to steady employment is necessary in reducing recidivism, but Pennsylvania, like many states, has made it exceedingly difficult for ex-felons to reenter the workforce.

Blanket bans on the issuance of licenses due to criminal convictions unnecessarily single out ex-offenders and make it more difficult for these persons to find work, leading to increased rates of recidivism. In fact, there is a direct correlation between occupational licensing burdens and recidivism. A 2016 Policy Report from the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty at Arizona State University found that “between 1997 and 2007 the states with the highest occupational licensing burdens saw an average increase in the three-year, new-crime recidivism rate of over 9%.” States with the lowest regulatory burdens “saw an average decline … of nearly 2.5%.”

Gainful employment is key in reducing recidivism. The Manhattan Institute notes ex-offenders who quickly found employment upon their release were 20 percent less likely to return to prison. Indeed, a “five-year follow-up study of released offenders” in Indiana found “post-release employment was an effective buffer for reducing recidivism among ex-offenders.” 

Article Source: The Heartland Institute

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

Reflections on the 156th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address

ASU professor thinks back to the famous speech and why it's important to teach today

November 19, 2019

Nov. 19 marks the 156th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, a speech that lasted only a few minutes yet has remained one of the most enduring statements of American principles and aspiration.

Delivered at the commemoration of the Gettysburg National Cemetery in Pennsylvania, Lincoln concluded his remarks by urging his fellow citizens to “highly resolve ... that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Abraham Lincoln at his second inauguration. Download Full Image

Zachary German, an assistant professor in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, teaches CEL 394, a course on the 16th president titled “Lincoln: Rhetoric, Thought, Statesmanship”. German also teaches in the school’s summer program, the Civic Leadership Institute, which welcomes more than 60 students from across Arizona to learn about the Constitution and Abraham Lincoln. ASU Now spoke with him about the lasting legacy of Lincoln's famous address and how it resonates today.

Question: Why is the message of the Gettysburg Address still relevant 156 years later?

Answer: As we continue to endure intense polarization and partisanship in our contemporary political life, the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address is a timely reminder of the common project to which we should seek to contribute together, and of the challenges that the project has always involved.  

The Gettysburg Address summons us to a deeper, more profound sense of our political identity, as a “nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” The task of living up to that identity is something that connects us to “our fathers,” to “the brave men” who shed their blood on the battlefield of Gettysburg and elsewhere, to our fellow citizens, and to generations to come whose future will be shaped, in meaningful ways, by our devotion to that task. 

Q: What lessons can modern Americans take from the speech?

A: According to Lincoln, the Civil War was a test of whether “that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” After all, a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to equality had been torn apart by the conflict over slavery. Government by the people had disintegrated into a war among the people; ballots had been replaced with bullets. When Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg, the nation was over two years into the bloodiest conflict of its history, and it still had nearly two more years before the war would cease. The nation almost didn’t survive the test that Lincoln described at Gettysburg. 

While Lincoln led the nation to the conclusion of the war, the test, in a broader sense, has never really ended. We’re always taking it — always in the midst of determining the extent to which a nation “so conceived and so dedicated” can persist. The dual challenge facing every generation is to preserve our union and to pursue its noble commitments at the same time. To equip us for that challenge, our current leaders, our future leaders, and all citizens would do well to read, talk, and think more about Lincoln.

ASU In the News

Why libertarians should read Frank Knight

In an article, Ross Emmett, director of the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty and Professor of Political Economy in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership discusses the importance of reading Frank Knight's work.

At Chicago, of course, Knight is best known as one of the early founders of Chicago economics, a school that was especially important in the middle of the 20th century when Milton Friedman was joined by George Stigler, T. W. Schultz, Ronald Coase, Harold Demsetz, Al Harberger, Gary Becker, and other market-oriented economists.

But despite being Knight’s protégés, Chicago economists often ran afoul of their mentor’s view of the world. From the 1940s on, Knight’s attention turned from economic theory and market organization to thinking about markets in their broader institutional context. There were no sacred cows for Knight.

Throughout his life, Knight argued first and foremost that an understanding of basic market principles was essential to all social and political discourse.

He also made two other arguments over and over again. First, uncertainty is a feature of the world we live in, not a bug. But the fact that uncertainty plagues human existence does not mean that progress is impossible. It just means that there is no “one” answer. In the absence of certainty from either science or morality, Knight argued, secondly, that discussion was essential. A favorite line of his in the latter part of his career was picked up and carried forward by Buchanan: “Democracy is government by discussion.”

Article Source:

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty