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One Day University in Westchester

October 08, 2017 9:30 AM – 1:15 PM

schedule

9:30 AM - 10:35 AM
The Civil War and Abraham Lincoln: What's Fact and What's Fiction?

Louis Masur / Rutgers University

Abraham Lincoln is considered our greatest President and one of the most controversial. People have debated various aspects of his personality and politics. Was he depressed? Why did he tell so many stories? Was he truly opposed to slavery? Did he free the slaves? Did the Union prevail because of his leadership or despite him? This class aims to uncover the man and not the myth. In 1922, the historian W.E.B. DuBois proclaimed that Lincoln was “big enough to be inconsistent.” To be sure, there were tensions in Lincoln’s character and ideology: he could be happy and melancholy, could promote democracy and suspend civil liberties, could oppose slavery yet have doubts about the place of blacks in American society.

Some of what DuBois saw as inconsistency had more to do with political reality, especially in regard to the issue of the abolition of slavery. Lincoln had to contend with various pressures knowing that any misstep could very well lead to the destruction of the Union. Here is where his temperament becomes so important. As we shall see, Lincoln’s storytelling had a purpose, as did his gradual approach to decision making. But once he made up his mind, he seldom looked back. In the end, it is not that he was inconsistent, but that he was thoughtful and deliberate and was not afraid to change his mind and grow in the process.

Louis Masur / Rutgers University
Louis Masur is a Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. He received outstanding teaching awards from Rutgers, Trinity College, and the City College of New York, and won the Clive Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Harvard University. He is the author of many books including "Lincoln's Last Speech," which was inspired by a talk he presented at One Day University. His essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, and Chicago Tribune. He is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and serves on the Historians' Council of the Gettysburg Foundation.

10:50 AM - 11:55 AM
The Psychology of Everything: What Compassion, Happiness, and Racism Tell Us About Human Nature

Paul Bloom / Yale University

Give Paul Bloom one hour, and he'll teach you "the psychology of everything." Through the case studies of compassion, happiness, and racism, Dr. Bloom explores the intrinsic fundamentals of human nature, including some of our most intriguing tendencies, such as the kindness of babies, stereotyping (which can be both detrimental and beneficial), and our universal sense of beauty. Additional topics addressed in the lecture include: "What do studies suggest is the number one characteristic that males and females look for in a mate?", "How can I get someone to have compassion for causes I care about?", "Are we all unconscious racists?", and even, "What do the porn preferences of monkeys tells us about our own sexual choices?"

Paul Bloom / Yale University
Paul Bloom is a professor of psychology and cognitive science at Yale University. The Society for Philosophy and Psychology awarded professor Bloom the Stanton Prize for outstanding early-career contributions to interdisciplinary research in Philosophy and Psychology. He received the Lex Hixon Prize for teaching excellence in the social sciences at Yale University.

12:10 PM - 1:15 PM
Four Trials That Changed the World

Austin Sarat / Amherst College

Even if we know little about the law, most of us know something about one of law's great rituals, the trial. We are regularly fascinated when this or that legal case is played out in a courtroom and proclaimed in the media to be "the trial of the century." Courtroom contests pit good versus evil, right versus wrong. But, in addition to their dramatic quality, they also are educational moments, occasions on which some of our most important political and social issues get played out before judge and jury. In this lecture we will consider four trials that changed American history during the twentieth century.

We will start by examining the so called "Scopes Monkey Trial." In this 1925 case, a high school teacher was accused of violating a state law that made it illegal to teach human evolution in public schools. Next we take up the Nuremberg trials, held by Allied forces after World War II to prosecute the leaders of Nazi Germany. Our third trial occurred in 1995 when the state of California prosecuted O.J. Simpson for the murder of his wife. The final of the four trials that changed America occurred four year later when the United States Senate took up the impeachment charges against President Bill Clinton arising out of his conduct during and after his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Each of these trials crystallized crucial issues of the day. And, the decisions reached in each of them had a profound impact well beyond the boundaries of the courtroom. If you are interested in such pressing issues as freedom of speech and religion, the responsibilities of perpetrators of war crimes, the legal treatment of celebrities, and the private lives of public figures, or if you just want to have the fun of revisiting some of the most riveting moments in recent American history, this lecture will give you considerable food for thought.

Austin Sarat / Amherst College
Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He has written, co-written, or edited more than ninety books in the fields of law and political science. Professor Sarat has received the the Stan Wheeler Award for his excellence as a teacher and mentor, awarded by the Law and Society Association.

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