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Throughout the academic year, the Douglass Forum will host debates and lectures. Some of these events will feature visiting scholars and some of these events will feature Linfield students. For many past events, there are video links available below.

2013-2014 Events

April and May of 2014: Linfield College’s Nicholson Library will be hosting a traveling exhibit on “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War.” The exhibit is a collaborative effort of the American Library Association (ALA) and the National Constitution Center (NCC)In conjunction with the exhibit, the Frederick Douglass Forum on Law, Rights, and Justice at Linfield College will host a major academic conference on the political and constitutional thought of Abraham Lincoln. The Douglass Forum hosts academic lectures, debates, and conferences that promote reflection on the rule of law, individual rights, and competing conceptions of justice. This past year, the Douglass Forum hosted a number of distinguished scholars for a series of lectures and debates. Thursday, May 8th, 2014 4:00pm to 5:30pm – Opening Reception 5:30 to 7:00pm –  Lecture by Allen Guelzo (Gettysburg College), “Four Roads to Emancipation” – Chair/Discussant: Margot Minardi (Reed College) Friday, May 9th, 2014 9:00am to 10:30am: Lecture by John Burt (Brandeis University), “Prosperity and Tyranny in Lincoln’s Lyceum Address” - Chair & Discussant: Richard Ellis (Willamette University) 11:00am to 12:30pm: Lecture by Manisha Sinha (University of Massachusetts-Amherst), “Abraham Lincoln’s Competing Political Ideals: The Union, Constitution, and Antislavery” - Chair & Discussant: Bill Curtis (University of Portland)2:00pm to 3:30pm: Lecture by John Stauffer (Harvard University), “Lincoln, Sumner, and Shakespeare” - Chair & Discussant: Daniel Pollack Pelzner (Linfield College)4:00pm to 5:30pm</strong>: Lecture by Michael Zuckert (University of Notre Dame), “Lincoln and the American Amalgam” - Chair & Discussant: David Gutterman (Willamette University) Saturday, May 10th, 2014 9:00am to 10:30am: Lecture by William B. Allen (Michigan State University), “To Preserve and Defend: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation” - Chair & Discussant: Joe Lowndes (University of Oregon)11:00am to 12:30pm: Lecture by Dorothy Ross (Johns Hopkins University), “Abraham Lincoln and the Ethics of Emancipation” - Chair & Discussant: Andrew Valls (Oregon State University)

Signing of the United States Constitution

Thursday September 19th, 11:45 am. Riley 201. Constitution Day Lecture by Dr. Elizabeth Hillman, "FDR, Obama & How Presidents Drop Bombs" (Lunch Provided)

Professor Elizabeth Hillman of UC Hastings Law School will deliver the 2013 Constitution Day lecture on the Constitution and executive power in times of war. Professor Hillman is a distinguished scholar and award winning teacher at the UC-Hastings Law School. In addition, she is president of the National Institute of Military Justice, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting fairness in and public understanding of military justice worldwide, and is co-legal director of the Palm Center, a public policy research institute that played a key role in ending the “don’t ask/don’t tell” policy of discriminating against gay men and lesbians in the U.S. armed forces. She has published two books, Military Justice Cases and Materials (2d ed. 2012, LexisNexis, with Eugene R. Fidell and Dwight H. Sullivan) and Defending America: Military Culture and the Cold War Court-Martial (Princeton University Press, 2005), and many articles, the most recent a chapter entitled “Sexual Violence in State Militaries” in Prosecuting International Sex Crimes (Forum for International Criminal and Humanitarian Law, 2012). Her current research concerns the law and politics of aerial bombing and military sexual violence.

Lunch will be available on a first come, first served basis at 11:45am and the lecture will begin at noon. This event is sponsored being hosted by the Frederick Douglass Forum on Law, Rights, and Justice and the Office of Academic Affairs. Please contact Nick Buccola at

Video of Constitution Day Lecture

2012-2013 Events

Monday, May 6th at 11:45am in Riley 201: Debate - Is Universal Service a Good Idea? Featuring Will Marshall (Progressive Policy Institute) and Tom G. Palmer (Atlas Economic Foundation)

Scholars and politicians from across the political spectrum have long advocated programs that require all 18 year olds to perform 18 to 24 months of military or civilian service. Such programs, supporters contend, would promote a more robust conception of citizenship and would move us closer to achieving the common good. An equally ideologically diverse of critics questions the wisdom of such proposals. Why, they ask, should we empower the state to force young people to participate in military or civilian projects not of their choosing? 

On May 6th, we will be joined by two scholars who have very different answers to the following question: is universal service a good idea? Lunch will be served at 11:45am and the debate will begin promptly at noon. 

Will Marshall's biography:
Tom G. Palmer's biography:

Video of Universal Service Debate

MONDAY, APRIL 15th at 11:45am in Pioneer Reading Room: Lecture by Professor Priscilla Yamin of the University of Oregon on “Marriage: A Political Institution”

As states all over the nation battle over same-sex marriage in the courts, legislatures, and at the ballot box, activists and scholars grapple with its implications for the status of gays and lesbians and for the institution of marriage itself. The struggle over same sex marriage is only the most recent manifestation of the debate shrouding marriage in the United States. What is at stake for those who want to restrict marriage and for those who seek to extend it? Why has the issue become such a national debate? These questions can only be answered by viewing marriage as a political institution as well as a religious and cultural one.

Priscilla Yamin is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Oregon and a Faculty affiliate of the Center for the Study of Women in Society. She earned her BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, her MA in Gender Studies and Feminist Theory and her PhD in Political Science from the New School for Social Research. She recently published her book American Marriage: A Political Institution and has been published in multiple academic journals. Her current projects include Immigration, Eugenics and Family: The Process of State-Building in the Progressive Era, Protecting White Femininity and Imprisoning Sex Offenders: The Politics of Measure 73 in Oregon, and Beyond Marriage: Basic Rights Oregon and Sexuality Politics in the US.

Lunch will be served on a first come, first served basis. Food and drink will be available at 11:45am and the lecture will begin at noon.


THURSDAY, APRIL 25th at 11:45am in Pioneer Reading Room: Lecture featuring Kristy King of Whitman College on “Why John Locke Still Matters”

John Locke is one of the great political thinkers of the Western tradition. His ideas on rights, property, and the proper role of the state permeate our political discussions. Please join the Department of Political Science and the Frederick Douglas Forum on Law, Rights, and Justice in welcoming Professor Kristy King of Whitman College for a lecture on “Why John Locke Still Matters”.

Kristy King is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. She earned her BA in Political Science and Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Magna Cum Laude and her PhD from Rutgers University-New Brunswick in Political Science. Her work has been published in Political Theory, The Encyclopedia of Political Theory, and The International Encyclopedia of Political Science. Her current projects include a manuscript which traces the concepts of sociability and self interest in the constitution of natural rights and social contract theories of the 17th century and research into the transformation of early modern natural law theory into modern rights discourse and the subsequent development of liberal political thought.

Lunch will be served on a first come, first served basis. Food and drink will be available at 11:45am and the lecture will begin at noon. 

View video of this lecture


TUESDAY, MARCH 19th at 11:45am in Riley 201: Chris Bouneff (Executive Director of NAMI Oregon), Penny Okamoto (Executive Director of Ceasefire Oregon), and James Huffman (Dean Emeritus of Lewis and Clark Law School) Lecture on "What should Oregon do about gun violence?" (Luncheon Event) 

Recent mass shootings in American suburbs and ongoing gun crime in American cities have prompted members of Congress to call hearings on the question: what should America do about gun violence? 

On March 19th at 11:45am in Riley 201, the Frederick Douglass Forum on Law, Rights, and Justice will host a panel discussion on the question: what should Oregon do about gun violence? The panel will feature Penny Okamoto (Executive Director of Ceasefire Oregon), James Huffman (Dean Emeritus, Lewis and Clark Law School), and Chris Bouneff (Executive Director of the Oregon chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness).

Lunch will be served on a first come, first served basis. Food and drink will be available at 11:45am and comments from the panelists will begin at noon. 

Biographies of Participants:

Chris Bouneff is the Executive Director of the Oregon chapter of The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Oregon (NAMI Oregon). NAMI Oregon is a statewide grassroots organization with more than 1,500 members in 15 affiliates; it is one of 50 state organizations that comprise the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The mission of NAMI is "to improve the quality of life of individuals living with mental illness and their families and loved ones through education, support, and advocacy."

Penny Okamoto is Executive Director of Ceasefire Oregon, an organization that "works to prevent gun violence by advocating reasonable, effective gun laws. We educate the public and legislators about gun violence, lobby on behalf of bills that will help make our communities safer, and work to prevent the passage of bills that would make it easier for dangerous people to obtain and carry firearms."

James Huffman is the Dean Emeritus of Lewis and Clark Law School. He is the author of more than 100 articles and chapters on constitutional law, natural resources law, and jurisprudence. In 2010, he was the Republican nominee for the United States Senate.


THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21st at 11:45am in Riley 201: Dr. Roosevelt Montás (Columbia University) Lecture on "Education for Freedom & Citizenship" (Luncheon Event)

A picture of Dr. Roosevelt Montas from Columbia University

Please join us for a luncheon lecture by Dr. Roosevelt Montás on the relationship between liberal education and good citizenship. Professor Montas is Director of Columbia University's Center for the Core Curriculum and he is Associate Dean of Columbia College. His research is focused on Antebellum American literature and culture, with a specific interest in citizenship and American national identity. His dissertation, "Rethinking America: Abolitionism and the Antebellum Transformation of the Discourse of National Identity," won the 2004 Bancroft Award. He is currently writing on the interrelated biographies Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, and Charles Sumner. He also lectures and writes on the history and future of liberal arts education. 

Food and drink will be available on a first come, first served basis. Lunch will be available at 11:45am and the lecture will begin at noon. 

Video of Education for Freedom & Citizenship Lecture


TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26th at 4:30pm in Riley 201: Debate on "The Politics of Freedom" featuring Professor Corey Robin (Brooklyn College & CUNY Graduate Center) and Professor Mark Blitz (Claremont McKenna College)

A picture of Professor Corey Robin of Brooklyn College & CUNY Graduate CenterA picture of Professor Mark Blitz of Claremont McKenna College

Please join us for a debate on the "The Politics of Freedom" featuring Professor Corey Robin and Professor Mark Blitz.  What is freedom?  What political, moral, economic, and social conditions are necessary for freedom to be achieved? In order to help us answer these questions, we will be joined by two scholars who have offered important responses from different sides of the political spectrum.

Corey Robin teaches political science at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin and Fear: The History of a Political Idea. His articles have appeared in the New York TimesHarper’s, the London Review of Books, and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book about the political theory of the free market.

Mark Blitz is the Fletcher Jones Professor of Political Philosophy  at Claremont McKenna College, and a fellow of the Claremont Institute. He is the author of Conserving Liberty (Hoover Institution Press), Plato's Political Philosophy (Johns Hopkins University Press), Duty Bound: Responsibility and American Public Life(Rowman & Littlefield), and Heidegger's Being and Time and the Possibility of Political Philosophy (Cornell University Press), and coeditor, along with William Kristol, of Educating the Prince: Essays in Honor of Harvey Mansfield (Rowman & Littlefield).

View the Video of The Politics of Freedom Debate


Picture of Karl Marx

Thursday, December 6th in Riley 201 at 11:45am - Luncheon Lecture: "Why Karl Marx Still Matters" featuring Paul Apostolidis of the Department of Politics at Whitman College (author of Breaks in the Chain: What Immigrant Workers can Teach America about Democracy).

Video of "Why Karl Marx Still Matters"

Friday, December 7th in Riley 201 at 12:00pm - Undergraduate Persuasive Speaking Contest on the question: Should Oregon law recognize same sex marriage? Please see the Workshops & Contests page for more information!

Video of "Breaks in the Chain" lecture


Monday, November 26th at 7:30pm in ICE Auditorium (Melrose Hall): Should Oregon law recognize same-sex marriage?

A debate examining the issues surrounding same-sex marriage will be held Monday, Nov. 26, at 7:30 p.m. in the Richard and Lucille ICE Auditorium in Melrose Hall at Linfield College. The debate, “Should Oregon law recognize same-sex marriage?” will feature Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law School and Justin Dyer of the University of Missouri. In 2004, Oregon voters approved Measure 36, which amended the state constitution to define marriage as the union of one man with one woman. As early as 2014, Oregon voters may have an opportunity to reconsider this issue. Should Oregon law recognize same-sex marriage?

Karlan, the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law and co-director of Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford University, was a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. One of the nation’s leading experts on voting and the political process, Karlan has served as a commissioner on the California Fair Political Practices Commission and an assistant counsel and cooperating attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. She is the author of numerous books including “Keeping Faith with the Constitution.”

Dyer, assistant professor of political science at the University of Missouri, is the author of “Natural Law and the Antislavery Constitutional Tradition.” His research interests span American constitutional theory and development, constitutional law, and American political thought. His research has been published in Polity, Journal of Politics, PS: Political Science and Politics, Perspectives on Political Science, and Politics & Religion. Currently, he is completing a book project that explores the jurisprudential and historical parallels between the issues of slavery and abortion in American politics.

The debate is free and open to the public, and sponsored by the Frederick Douglass Forum on Law, Rights, and Justice.

Constitution Day Debate: Has the War on Terror Undermined the U.S. Constitution? Friday, September 21st - 11:45am to 1:00pm - Riley 201 - Luncheon Event

Is the war on terror consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution? This will be the question at issue in a debate featuring Stephen W. Knott (Professor of National Security Studies, U.S. Naval War College) and Ofer Raban (Professor of Law, University of Oregon Law School). Professor Knott's most recent book, Rush to Judgment: George W. Bush, the War on Terror, and His Critics, was published by the University of Kansas Press in March 2012. Professor Raban's recent publications include "Constitutionalizing Corruption" (on the Citizens United decision) and "Cloak of National Security Obscures Logic." This event will be co-sponsored by the PLACE pilot project on "The Legacies of War" the Office of Academic Affairs, and the Jack Miller Center Constitution Day initiative.

This event is free and open to the public, but food is available on a first come, first serve basis and space is limited. Please RSVP to

Video of the complete debate

Examined LivesJames Miller on Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche - Tuesday, September 25th at 7:30pm in the Nicholson Library - Austin Reading Room

James Miller is Chair of Liberal Studies and Professor of Politics at the New School for Social Research. His latest book, Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche, was published by Farrar Straus and Giroux. In Examined Lives, Miller explores the lives of twelve great philosophers and reconstructs their answers to life's most fundamental questions. The book's introduction and the chapter on Seneca can be found here. To read a review, please click here.

Miller is the author of five other books: Flowers in the Dustbin: the Rise of Rock & Roll, 1947-1977, winner of an ASCAP-Deems Taylor award and a Ralph Gleason BMI award for best music book of 1999; The Passion of Michel Foucault (1993), an interpretive essay on the life of the French philosopher and a National Book Critics Circle Finalist for General Nonfiction, which has been translated into nine languages; "Democracy is in the Streets": From Port Huron to the Siege of Chicago (1987), an account of the American student movement of the 1960s, also a National Book Critics Circle Finalist for General Nonfiction and recently recommended by Michael Kazin as one of the 5 essential books to understand the roots of the Occupy Wall Street movement (to read the article, please click here); Rousseau: Dreamer of Democracy (1984), a study of the origins of modern democracy; and History and Human Existence - From Marx to Merleau-Ponty, an analysis of Marx and the French existentialists.

Video of the complete lecture


Previous Events

Politics professor  and author Susan McWilliams of Pomona College presented “Redeeming Democracy in America” at 2:30 p.m. Monday, May 7, 2012  in the lower level of Melrose Hall at Linfield College.

Video of the complete lecture