Fellow Stephen Macekura on Measuring Economic Progress

Macekura_SHow effective is the economic statistic, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), in evaluating national wellbeing in today’s global age? If not GDP, what other measuring yardstick(s) should guide policymaking and national development? On Public Books, associate fellow Stephen Macekura considers these pressing questions in his essay “Our Mis-leading Indicators.” Turning the discussion of these questions in a new direction, Macekura considers three recently published books contributing to the conversation: GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History by economist Diane Coyle, Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World by financial adviser (with a PhD in history) Zachary Karabell, and Gross Domestic Problem: The Politics Behind the World’s Most Powerful Number by political scientist Lorenzo Fioramonti.

Alumni Fellow Daniel Philpott launches new blog on global justice

Philpott-DanielAlumni Fellow Daniel Philpott is editor of a new blog on global justice, Arc of the Universe. Based at the Center for Civil and Human Rights at the University of Notre Dame, contributors to the blog include scholars and experts across disciplines, including Institute Faculty John M. Owen.


Beliefs about justice typically lurk just beneath headlines from around the world, whether they deal with separatist movements in Ukraine, Kurdistan, or Sri Lanka; Islamic rebellions in Syrian and Iraq; U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan; war in Israel and Palestine; global development policy; women’s rights; the drug wars in Latin America; the one-child policy in China; or religious freedom. Usually, these beliefs go unexamined. The same is often true even in the academy. In American political science, for instance, justice is sharply separated from the scientific study of politics. Arc of the Universe is devoted to resurfacing justice – examining the day’s headlines from the deep commitments of ethical traditions.  Arc of the Universe is also distinctive in bringing religion into the picture. Some posts will appeal to religion while others will be rendered in secular terms.  Arc of the Universe is a place where secular and religious meet in conversation about global justice.

Inazu and Anti-Discrimination Policies

inazujVisiting Faculty Fellow John Inazu discusses in an article released on the Online Library of Law and Liberty the recent legal controversy concerning the 23 Californian college campuses denying recognition to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapters as official university student groups. Inazu is associate professor of law and political science at the Washington University in St. Louis and researches the First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion.  His article, “The Perverse Effects of the ‘All Comers’ Requirement,” examines the consequences and rationale of the anti-discrimination policies. Read the full article here.

Johann Neem discusses higher education

Neem_JJohann Neem is visiting the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture for the 2014-2015 academic year from Western Washington University, where he serves as professor of history. This week, Neem was featured on PBS Newshour, during which students and higher education faculty and staff discussed online college degree programs. Neem offered a look at competency-based education and the purpose of college education at large. Read the PBS Newshour in full, here.

2014-2015 Visiting Fellow Inazu on CNN


Visiting fellow John D. Inazu not only serves as associate professor of law at the Washington University in St. Louis, but his office is seven miles from Ferguson, Missouri, where eighteen-year-old Michael Brown was shot by a policeman.  Many competing narratives surround Brown’s death, and this tragedy tied to race and class has challenged those living and working in the suburbs of St. Louis—such as John Inazu—to reflect on the significance of the event. Inazu’s opinion on this multi-layered issue was released nationally this morning in the CNN op-ed section. He asks, “Are we Ferguson?” Read his reflection here.

Also, Inazu wrote another op-ed last week for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, entitled “Let’s talk about race.” He considers productive ways members of St. Louis can respond in the wake of the local tragedy.

Doctoral Fellow Christina McRorie and Philosophy of Economics

McRorie_CDoctoral Fellow Christina McRorie collaborated with other scholars this July at a conference held in San Sebastian, Spain. The conference entitled “Agency, Policy, and the Future of Macroeconomics: A Summer School in Economics and Philosophy” was put on by Durham University, in conjunction with the Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society (CHESS) and the International Network for Economic Method (INEM). McRorie and others attended lectures by intellectual leaders in the emerging field of the “philosophy of economics.” They exchanged ideas about some of the pressing topics that have surfaced since the recent financial crisis, such as rational choice theory and ethical aspects of economics.

This summer school informs McRorie’s work at the Institute, where she works closely with the Program on Culture, Capitalism, and Global Change and the Thriving Cities Project.

IASC featured in Harvard’s new research report


Data from the Institute’s Culture of American Families Project was cited by the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Making Caring Common Project in their report, “The Children We Mean to Raise: The Real Messages Adults Are Sending About Values.” The report is a response to unsettling national survey results: school-age children predominantly value individual achievement over caring for others. Harvard researchers reflect on findings from the Culture of American Families Project in tandem with other sources and propose steps American families and schools can take to redirect the cultural priority away from individualism and instead “make caring common.” The full report can be accessed here.

David Decosimo on Thomas Aquinas and Religious Pluralism


Institute alumni fellow David Decosimo, who now teaches in the Department of Theology at Loyola University Maryland, has released his first book. It is entitled Ethics as a Work of Charity: Thomas Aquinas and Pagan Virtue. Decosimo unpacks the ethics of Thomas Aquinas, arguing that Aquinas’ treatment of pagans and their distinctive vision of the good life can be a model for twenty-first century, pluralist society. Decosimo’s book will be the focus of a panel at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting in November.

Decosimo has also been selected as a Research Fellow at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey, where he will participate in the Center’s yearlong research program “Inquiry on Law and Religious Freedom.”

Learn more about Decosimo’s book on the Stanford University Press website.

Institute Fellow Ethan Schrum on University President Ousters


Ethan Schrum, postdoctoral fellow at the Institute, comments on the attempted ouster of University of Texas president Powers in The Houston Chronicle. Schrum discusses the attempted ouster of Powers and of University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan as compared to the firing of University of California president Clark Kerr in 1967. Read the commentary, “Case of UT’s Powers Echoes Another Crisis Involving Reagan.”

Charles Mathewes discusses today’s “desert of religious conversation”


In American Interest, Institute faculty and U.Va. religious studies professor Charles Mathewes reviews Ronald Dworkin’s Religion Without God and Christian Wiman’s My Bright Abyss in light of contemporary American culture. Mathewes’ article is entitled “What’s God Got to Do with Religion?” He reflects on the negative consequences of liberal individualism, arguing that while all individuals are deemed valuable under liberal individualism, it splinters American society into “isolation chambers.” The cell walls block individual conscience and the public sphere from interacting. One such manifestation is Americans’ inability to discuss our disparate religious beliefs with each other. We are adept at monologues but not genuine conversations, he says. In light of this backdrop, Mathewes discusses how the two authors, Dworkin and Wiman, both engage and gloss over the tragic effects of liberal individualism in their recent books. “Together, [the two books] may presage a new stage in our efforts to escape our deprivative privacy.”

Mathewes is currently producing a four-volume “Major Works” collection for Routledge Publishers on the field of Comparative Religious Ethics, with his co-editors Mark Storslee and Matthew Puffer, both fellows at the Institute.