The Humanities Institute

Program Archive

The Politics of Knowledge Production

In the fall semester of 2004, the Scripps College Humanities Institute will be holding a semester-long program exploring the connections of knowledge, information, and politics. Our approach will be interdisciplinary and, we hope, wide-ranging, including such topics as the way information is created and used in policy making and the making of political culture; the role of think tanks; and the relationships between the academy and politics.

Speakers and Events

September 16, 2004
Jon Wiener
Professor of History

'Fairness' and 'Balance' in Politics and the Classroom
Hampton Room, Malott Commons

Jon Wiener's current research focuses on Cold War culture and its commemoration in museums, monuments, and memorials, where its meaning and significance are being defined for ordinary people. Wiener became an important exponent of intellectual freedom when he filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit against the FBI for their files on John Lennon. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court before most of the outstanding issues were settled in 1997, The story of the litigation is the subject of Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI files (2000). Since 1984, Wiener has been a contributing editor of The Nation, where he writes about campus issues, intellectual controversies, and southern California politics. His articles have also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as the American Historical Review and the Journal of American History. His previous book, Professors, Politics and Pop, is a collection of these essays.

September 16, 2004
Judy Muller
News Correspondent

Media Bombardment: A Case for Media Literacy
Hampton Room, Malott Commons

Judy Muller, an Emmy Award-winning ABC News correspondent and National Public Radio commentator, joined the faculty of the USC Annenberg School for Communication in August 2003 as an assistant professor of journalism. She remains a contributing correspondent to ABC News broadcasts, including "Nightline and "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings." Muller, who went to work for ABC News in 1990, covered the 1992 Rodney King trial and ensuing riots, the 1994 Northridge earthquake and the O.J. Simpson criminal and civil trials, among other stories. As part of a "Nightline" team, she received an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots and an Emmy Award for coverage of the Simpson case. A regular contributor to NPR's "Morning Edition," she also wrote a book about her experiences as a journalist titled, Now this... Radio, Television and the Real World. Before joining the ABC News team, Muller was a CBS News correspondent who contributed to "CBS News Sunday Morning" and the "CBS Weekend News."

September 23, 2004
John Podesta
President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for American Progress

Think Tanks, Democracy, and Public Policy
Hampton Room, Malott Commons

Before founding the Center for American Progress and becoming Visiting Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center, John Podesta served as Chief of Staff to President William J. Clinton, where he was responsible for directing, managing, and overseeing all policy development, daily operations, Congressional relations, and staff activities of the White House. He coordinated the work of cabinet agencies with a particular emphasis on the development of federal budget and tax policy, and served in the President's Cabinet and as a Principal on the National Security Council. He has also held a number of positions on Capital Hill, including Counselor to Democratic Leader Senator Thomas A. Daschle; Chief Counsel for the Senate Agriculture Committee; Chief Minority Counsel for the Senate Judiciary Subcommittees on Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks; Security and Terrorism; and Regulatory Reform and Counsel on the Majority Staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 1988, he founded Podesta Associates, Inc., a Washington, D.C. government relations and public affairs firm. According to its mission statement, the Center for American Progress is "a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure our national policies reflect these values."

September 30, 2004
Richard Ray Perez and Joan Sekler, Directors

Balch Auditorium

October 4, 2004
Kent Wong
Direct, Center for Labor Research and Education, UCLA

Voices for Justice: Organizing Immigrant Workers
Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center

Kent Wong teaches Labor Studies and Asian-American Studies at UCLA where he also directs the Center for Labor Research and Education. He is president of the United Association for Labor Education, a national organization of labor educators including representatives from more than 50 university labor education centers. He also serves on the Executive Committee of the International Federation of Worker Education Associations. Previously, Wong served as the Founding President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO, the first national organization of Asian American workers and union members. He also worked as the staff attorney for the Service Employees International Union, #339m representing 40,000 Los Angeles County workers and was the first staff attorney for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California. His most recent publication is Voices for Justice: Asian American Union Organizers in the New Labor Movement. He also co-edited a book with Ruth Milkman entitled Voices from the Front Lines: Organizing Immigrant Workers in Los Angeles.

October 11, 2004
David Attyah
Visiting Professor of Art, Scripps College and Co-Founder of THINK AGAIN

On Stopping the Manufacture of Political Apathy: Arguments for Politicizing Art
Hampton Room, Malott Commons

David Attyah is an artist, anthropologist, and community activist who co-founded (with artist and educator S. A. Bachman) THINK AGAIN, an artist-activist collaborative that talks back to mainstream ideas that perpetuates injustice. Conceptually, THINK AGAIN's work covers a broad array of progressive political themes: from racism to gender inequality, from economic injustice to gay rights. Their work combines humor, cultural theory, and hard sociological evidence in posters, postcards, and billboards. All of their artwork is distributed at no-cost and given out through exhibitions, events, direct mail, non-profit organizations, and the web at

October 21, 2004
"Orwell Rolls in His Grave"
Robert Kane Pappas
Robert Kane Pappas, Director

Boone Recital Hall

October 25, 2004
Antonio Gonzalez
President, William C. Velasquez Institute and Southwest Voter Registration

'Su Voto Es Su Voz': Civic Engagement and Public Policy
Hampton Room, Malott Commons

Antonio Gonzalez is the paramount expert on Latino voting characteristics and tendencies. He is President of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP), the largest and oldest non-partistan Latino voter participation organization in the U.S. and of the William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI), a non-parisan research and policy institute. Gonzalez and SVREP have been central figures in the dramatic growth of Latino political participation. Gonzalez was the central architect of the Latino Vote USA and Latino Vote 2000 campaigns in 1996 and 2000 that mobilized record numbers of new Latino voters across the U.S. Currently, Gonzalez is leading two nation nonpartisan voter mobilization alliances, the Ten Four Campaign and the Campaign for Communities, which aim to raise Latino voting to a record 10 million registered and 7.5 million votes cast in 2004. Gonzalez put WCVI on the map as the first national Latino organization to include U.S.-Latin America relations in the U.S. Latino Agenda. Gonzalez currently appears as a regular commentator on the National Public Radio's Tavis Smiley Show and hosts his own weekly show on Pacifica's KPFK in Los Angeles called "Strategy Session."

October 28, 2004
Eugene B. Meyer
President, The Federalist Society

The Federalist Society: Broadening the Debate in the Law Schools in Theory and in Practice
Hampton Room, Malott Commons

Eugene B. Meyer has served as Executive Director and DEO of the Federalist Society for 20 years. He is responsible for shepherding the organization from a small group of conservative law students to a community of more than 25,000 lawyers and law students, with more than 200 chapters nationwide, including a national speaker's bureau at major law schools, with a budget of more than $4 million today. Meyer currently serves as a Board Member for the U.S. Chess Center, the Holman Foundation, and is on the Advisory Board of the National Legal Center for the Public Interest. He also currently holds the title of International Chess Master. From 1993-1995, he was a Philadelphia Society Trustee.

October 28, 2004
Lee Cokorinos
Executive Director of the Capacity Development Group

Does Knowledge Matter? Think Tanks and the Assault on Diversity
Hampton Room, Malott Commons

Lee Cokorinos is Executive Director of the Capacity Development Group, a consulting practice committed to advancing progressive change by assisting nongovernmental organizations in strategic planning and organizational development. Previously, he was research director at the Institute for Democracy Studies (IDS), where he coordinated the strategic research programs in law, reproductive rights, and religion. He is author of the recent study of right wing organizations that have waged a legal and political campaign against affirmative action and other social justice initiatives, The Assault on Diversity: An Organized Challenge to Racial and Gender Justice (2003). His other publications have focused on antifeminist organizations, the Federalist Society, attacks on reproductive freedom, and on the Promise Keepers evangelical men's movement. He also directed the Southern African Literature Society in Botswana for several years, an NGO devoted to closing the "book gap" in southern Africa by bringing high quality social science and fiction literature into the subcontinent; and has conducted extensive research on southern African politics and social movements.

November 4, 2004
"Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism"
Robert Greenwald, Director

Boone Recital Hall

November 11, 2004

Senior Fellow with the Association of American Colleges & Universities

Transforming Knowledge: Refusing and Refuting Logics of Domination
Hampton Room, Malott Commons

Elizabeth Minnich has published more than 70 monographs, essays, conference proceedings, and reviews and has two new books in progress. In 1990 Minnich received the Frederick W. Ness Book Award for Transforming Knowledge, which will be reissued in a substantially revised edition in November 2004. Her current research includes examinations of the political and personal roots and implications of particular knowledge constructs, with emphasis on philosophy compatible with democracy. Her visiting professorships include positions at East Carolina University (The Whichard Visiting Distinguished Professor of Humanities & Women's Studies) and Scripps College (The Hartley Burr Alexander Professorship). She is editor for the Temple University Press series, The New Academy. At present, she is completing work on a book, Free Thinking: Philosophical, Moral, Political Reflections with Hannah Arendt for a series that features contemporary philosophers.

November 18, 2004
"Control Room"
Jehane Noujaim, Director

Boone Recital Hall