Recordings of Convocations

Beginning with the 2012-2013 academic year, convocation audio files are archived separately from video files. View the audio archives.

Convocation: Gavin Wright

Created 30 September 2011; Published 14 October 2011

Gavin Wright, Stanford University professor of American economic history, is perhaps today's leading economic historian on the American South. Using the tools of economics to interpret historical developments, his research has looked at the history of slavery, the cotton economy, the California gold rush, and the origins of American technological preeminence. In recent years he has turned to the Civil Rights Revolution of the 1960s, interpreted as an economic phenomenon. Focusing on the American South, Wright asks whether the landmark civil rights legislation of the 1960s produced genuine economic advances for African-Americans, and whether these gains were broadly shared among low-income groups, rather than benefiting mainly the middle class. Wright also examines whether these gains came at the expense of whites, or as part of an economic restructuring that generally enhanced the wellbeing of most southerners. The title of his presentation was "The Civil Rights Revolution as Economic History: Who Gained? Who Lost?"

  • MP3 Audio (23.34 MB, 58:15, progressive download)

Other Items

  • Pedro Noguera
    Created 7 October 2011; Published 14 October 2011
    Convocation: Pedro Noguera

    Pedro Noguera is one of America's most important voices for healthy public education. As a leading urban sociologist, he examines how schools are influenced by social and economic conditions in the urban environment. What are the challenges they face in providing safe, academically rewarding environments? What is the state of race relations, racial inequality? What is the role of diversity? What is the impact of violence, parents, and school vouchers? What factors promote student achievement? Which detract from it? What is the impact of immigration and migration?

    Noguera holds faculty appointments in the departments of Teaching and Learning and Humanities and Social Sciences at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Development, as well as in the Department of Sociology at New York University. He is also a part-time high school teacher, the author of several groundbreaking texts, and a regular guest on CNN and NPR. Recently, he helped launch A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education, a group of public policy experts in various fields (housing, education, civil rights), and from across the political spectrum, working to break a decades-long cycle of reform efforts that promised much and have achieved far too little. The group works in areas that research shows must be addressed if we are to keep our promises to all of America's children.

    A dynamic speaker who translates social theory into concise, hip language with emotional impact and intellectual rigor, Noguera examines the hurdles faced in providing equal education to all – and then unveils the solutions that are already working to overcome them – in his presentation titled "Creating the Schools We Need: A Broader and Bolder Approach to School Reform."

  • Historian and professor, Gavin Wright
    Created 30 September 2011; Published 14 October 2011
    Convocation: Gavin Wright

    Gavin Wright, Stanford University professor of American economic history, is perhaps today's leading economic historian on the American South. Using the tools of economics to interpret historical developments, his research has looked at the history of slavery, the cotton economy, the California gold rush, and the origins of American technological preeminence. In recent years he has turned to the Civil Rights Revolution of the 1960s, interpreted as an economic phenomenon. Focusing on the American South, Wright asks whether the landmark civil rights legislation of the 1960s produced genuine economic advances for African-Americans, and whether these gains were broadly shared among low-income groups, rather than benefiting mainly the middle class. Wright also examines whether these gains came at the expense of whites, or as part of an economic restructuring that generally enhanced the wellbeing of most southerners. The title of his presentation was "The Civil Rights Revolution as Economic History: Who Gained? Who Lost?"

  • Bryan Garsten
    Created 23 September 2011; Published 26 September 2011
    Convocation: Bryan Garsten

    Bryan Garsten is Professor of Political Science at Yale University, and serves as Director of Undergraduate Studies for the program in Ethics, Politics and Economics. He writes about the history of political thought and contemporary political theory, with a special interest in the themes of persuasion and judgment. He is the author of the prize-winning book Saving Persuasion: A Defense of Rhetoric and Judgment.

    In today’s increasingly polarized political landscape it seems that fewer and fewer citizens hold out hope of persuading one another. Even among those who have not given up on persuasion, few will admit to practicing the art of persuasion known as rhetoric. To describe political speech as ‘rhetoric’ today is to accuse it of being superficial or manipulative. Garsten uncovers the early modern origins of this suspicious attitude toward rhetoric and seeks to loosen its grip on contemporary political theory. Revealing how deeply concerns about rhetorical speech shaped both ancient and modern political thought, he argues that the artful practice of persuasion ought to be viewed as a crucial part of democratic politics. He provocatively suggests that the aspects of rhetoric that seem most dangerous—the appeals to emotion, religious values, and the concrete commitments and identities of particular communities—are also those which can draw out citizens’ capacity for good judgment. Against theorists who advocate a rationalized ideal of deliberation aimed at consensus, Garsten argues that a controversial politics of partiality and passion can produce a more engaged and more deliberative kind of democratic discourse. Garsten shared his thoughts about the role of a liberal education in his presentation titled "What Is College For?"

  • Rush Holt '70
    Created 12 September 2011; Published 19 September 2011
    Opening Convocation: Rush Holt '70

    Carleton's opening convocation is an annual all-college assembly celebrating the beginning of the academic year and recognizing academic achievement. This year's address was delivered by U.S. Representative Rush Holt, who has served Central New Jersey in Congress since 1999. Holt serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Natural Resources, where he serves as the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources helping to develop a long-term strategy to decrease our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels and protect our environment for future generations. He has also been the Chairman of the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, created to strengthen oversight of the intelligence community by ensuring that policymakers receive accurate assessments, civil liberties are safeguarded, and the intelligence community is protecting Americans.

    Holt earned his B.A. in Physics from Carleton College and completed his Master’s and Ph.D. at NYU. He has held positions as a teacher, Congressional Science Fellow, and arms control expert at the U.S. State Department where he monitored the nuclear programs of countries such as Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and the former Soviet Union. Prior to launching his congressional campaign, Holt was Assistant Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, the largest research facility of Princeton University and the largest center for research in alternative energy in New Jersey. He has conducted extensive research on alternative energy and has his own patent for a solar energy device. Scientific American magazine named Holt one of the 50 national "visionaries" contributing to "a brighter technological future." Holt was also a five-time winner of the game show "Jeopardy." In February 2011, he beat Watson, IBM’s computer system in a simulated round of Jeopardy at an event to promote innovation.

  • Steve Kelly
    Created 27 May 2011; Published 9 June 2011
    Honors Convocation: Stephen Kelly

    The Honors Convocation is held each year on the last Friday of spring term to recognize faculty and students for their accomplishments and their service to the community. This year’s address will be delivered by Stephen Kelly, the Dye Family Professor of Music, who has taught at Carleton since 1974. Kelly has directed the early music ensemble and taught courses in music history, including a popular course in jazz history. He has been a Fulbright Scholar and has published editions of the music of Niccolo da Perugia and co-authored a video tape on the Medieval Monastery. He has also done research focused on the area of jazz reception and the music of Wynton Marsalis. Most recently he has presented "Joan Baez at Spring Hill: A Study of Intersecting Histories." A performer as well as a musicologist, Kelly plays saxophone and clarinet in “Occasional Jazz.” The title of his presentation was "My Carleton Education."

  • Annie Leonard
    Created 13 May 2011; Published 17 May 2011
    Convocation: Annie Leonard

    A proponent of sustainability and critic of excessive consumerism, Annie Leonard is most known for her animated film “The Story of Stuff” about the life-cycle of material goods. This hit 20-minute webfilm takes viewers on a provocative and eye-opening tour of the often hidden costs of our consumer driven culture. “The Story of Stuff” has generated over 10 million views in more than 200 countries and territories since its launch, making it one of the most successful environmental-themed viral films of all time. The film has also won numerous awards, and in 2008 Leonard was named one of Time Magazine’s Heroes of the Environment. Leonard has spent nearly two decades investigating and organizing on environmental health and justice issues, traveling to over 40 countries to visit the factories where our stuff is made and the dumps where it ends up. As she explores how our obsession with stuff is trashing the planet, our communities, and our health, she offers a vision for change and a sense of hope that we can find a more sustainable way to meet our material needs. The title of her presentation was "The Story of Stuff: The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health—And How We Can Make It Better."

  • Arn Chorn-Pond
    Created 6 May 2011; Published 11 May 2011
    Convocation: Arn Chorn-Pond

    Arn Chorn-Pond was both a victim and survivor of the Cambodian genocide who grew to become an internationally recognized human rights leader. Subject of the Emmy-nominated documentary The Flute Player and a founder of Children of War, an international youth leadership organization for building community, activism and healing for teenagers, Chorn-Pond opens eyes and hearts as he helps to heal. The title of his presentation was "Child of War, Man of Peace."

  • Josh Aronson
    Created 29 April 2011; Published 2 May 2011
    Convocation: Joshua Aronson

    Associate Professor of Applied Psychology at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, Joshua Aronson has been studying stereotypes, self-esteem, motivation, and attitudes for the past 13 years. His work seeks to understand and remediate race and gender gaps in educational achievement and standardized test performance. Often, the low performance of blacks in particular, but other minorities as well, gets casually chalked up to genetic or cultural differences that supposedly block acquisition of skills or values necessary for academic achievement. In sharp contrast, Aronson has uncovered some exciting and encouraging answers to these old questions by looking at the psychology of stigma—the way human beings respond to negative stereotypes about their racial or gender group. What he has found suggests that being targeted by well-known cultural stereotypes ("blacks are unintelligent", "girls can't do math", and so on) can be very threatening, a predicament that has been termed "Stereotype Threat."

  • Meg Lowman, a tropical rainforest canopy biologist and professor at New College of Florida,
    Created 22 April 2011; Published 29 April 2011
    Convocation: Margaret Lowman

    Climbing trees for a living is the job of Meg Lowman, who for 30 years has designed new methods for exploration of the rain forest canopy and solved mysteries in the treetops of the world’s forests, with special attention on the links between insect pests and ecosystem health. Lowman pioneered the science of canopy ecology, designing methods and protocols for research in the rain forest canopy using a variety of techniques, including rope walkways and hot air balloons. She relentlessly works to “map” the canopy for biodiversity and to champion forest conservation around the world. Her international network and passion for science have led her into leadership roles where she seeks best practices to solve environmental challenges. Lowman serves as Director of the Nature Research Center and is also Research Professor of Natural Sciences at North Carolina State University where she focuses on initiatives involving science communication to the public. The title of her presentation was "Life in the Treetops: Conservation of the World's Rain Forests."

  • Louis Menand
    Created 15 April 2011; Published 29 April 2011
    Convocation: Louis Menand

    Harvard University professor of English and American literature and language, Louis Menand is widely considered to be the foremost modern scholar of American studies. He is the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning The Metaphysical Club, a detailed history of American intellectual and philosophical life in the 19th and 20th centuries. His recent book The Marketplace of Ideas, has sparked a debate about the future of American education. Has American higher education become a dinosaur? Why do professors all tend to think alike? What makes it so hard for colleges to decide which subjects should be required? Why do teachers and scholars find it so difficult to transcend the limits of their disciplines? Why, in short, are problems that should be easy for universities to solve so intractable? The answer, Menand argues, is that the institutional structure and the educational philosophy of higher education have remained the same for one hundred years, while faculties and student bodies have radically changed and technology has drastically transformed the way people produce and disseminate knowledge. Sponsored by the Fred W. and Margaret C. Schuster Distinguished Visiting Lecturer in Literature Fund, the title of his presentation was "Why the Case for Liberal Education is Hard to Make."

  • Neil Howe
    Created 8 April 2011; Published 29 April 2011
    Convocation: Neil Howe

    Neil Howe, best-selling author and national speaker, is a renowned authority on generations in America. He gives readers and audiences powerful insights into who today’s generation are, what motivates them as consumers and workers, and how they will shape our national future. Howe's broadly cyclical perspective—oriented around familiar generational life stories—puts "the long term" into a stunning yet personal focus. Historian, economist, and demographer, Howe is a founding partner of the consulting firm LifeCourse Associates, a marketing, personnel, and strategic planning consultancy serving corporate, government, and nonprofit clients. Also a recognized authority on global aging, long-term fiscal policy, and migration, he is a senior associate to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C. where he helps lead the Global Aging Initiative. Howe has coauthored several books on generations with William Strauss, all best sellers widely used by businesses, colleges, government agencies, and political leaders of both parties. Titles include Generations, a history of America told as a sequence of generational biographies; 13th Gen, the best-selling nonfiction book ever about Generation X; The Fourth Turning; and Millennials Rising. The title of his presentation was "Generations of Americans: Lifestyles, Politics, and the Rhythms of History."

  • Dennis Meadows, Class of 1964
    Created 1 April 2011; Published 5 April 2011
    Convocation: Dennis Meadows '64

    Dennis Meadows ’64, a scientist who has spent decades studying the Earth’s capacity to endure human population growth and extractive economies, believes it is too late to stop climate change. Meadows and colleagues from the Club of Rome, a think tank focused on global challenges, produced a report in 1972 called "The Limits of Growth." Their research concluded humans and their economies would outstrip the earth's resources if growth wasn't limited. They updated the report in 2004 and found that on a planet-wide scale, humans had not made much progress on saving the Earth's resources. Consequently, he suggests ways communities and nations can begin adjusting to climate change, peak oil, less water and other realities. The title of his presentation was "Preparing for Life with MUCH Less Energy."

  • Mike Kim
    Created 25 February 2011; Published 9 March 2011
    Convocation: Mike Kim

    Mike Kim is the founder of Crossing Borders, an NGO providing aid to North Koreans. On New Year's Day 2003, he gave up his financial planning business in Chicago, Illinois and left for China on a one-way ticket carrying little more than two duffel bags. While living near the North Korean border, he operated undercover as a student of North Korean taekwondo, training under North Korean masters from Pyongyang—eventually receiving a second-degree black belt. During his time in China, he learned of the hundreds of thousands of North Koreans fleeing to China through a 6,000-mile modern-day underground railway across Asia in search of food and freedom. Kim provides a rare and unique inside look into the hidden world of ordinary North Koreans, recounting their experiences of enduring famine, sex-trafficking, and torture, as well as the inspirational stories of those who overcame tremendous adversity to escape the repressive regime of their homeland and make new lives. The title of his presentation was “Escaping North Korea.”

  • Sonia Shah
    Created 18 February 2011; Published 9 March 2011
    Convocation: Sonia Shah

    Investigating how science and politics collide in a lop-sided world, Sonia Shah is a critically acclaimed writer on science, human rights, and international politics. Shah was born in New York City to Indian immigrants. Growing up, she shuttled between the northeastern United States where her parents practiced medicine and Mumbai and Bangalore, India, where her extended working-class family lived, developing a life-long interest in inequality between and within societies. As an undergraduate at Oberlin College, she earned her BA in journalism, philosophy, and neuroscience. Her books have included Crude: The Story of Oil and her prize-winning drug industry exposé, The Body Hunters: Testing New Drugs on the World's Poorest Patients. In her latest book, The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years, Shah reveals the amazing story of malaria, a disease that infects one-half billion people every year, killing nearly 1 million – despite the fact that we’ve known how to prevent and cure the disease for over one hundred years.

  • Jeff Blodgett '83
    Created 11 February 2011; Published 21 February 2011
    Convocation: Jeff Blodgett '83

    With 28 years experience in community organizing and political management, Jeff Blodgett is the founding director of Wellstone Action, a national center for training and leadership development. The organization’s mission is to ignite leadership in people and power in communities to win change in the progressive tradition of Paul and Sheila Wellstone. Blodgett studied with Paul Wellstone at Carleton College and began his career as a community organizer, working with hard-pressed family farmers during the 1980s farm crisis. He later spent 13 years as a senior aide, advisor, and campaign manager to the late Senator, managing all three of his election campaigns, including the hard-fought 2002 race that was tragically cut short by a plane crash. In addition to his leadership of Wellstone Action, Blodgett also trains, teaches, and writes extensively on political skills, public management, and leadership. A 1983 graduate of Carleton College, he earned his Masters of Public Administration from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and teaches in the Masters Advocacy and Political Leadership program at the University of Minnesota Duluth. The title of his presentation was “Working for What You Believe In: Leadership and Political Change The Wellstone Way.”

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