The Wolfson Center for National Affairs presents the first in a four-part series of conversations with writers and thinkers who are extending the boundaries of discussion on some of the key public policy issues of today.
At this discussion Sanford Levinson, author of Our Undemocratic Constitution and Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (And How the People Can Correct It), talks with Bob Kerrey, president of New School and former governor of and senator from Nebraska, about what kind of democracy we have. Is it too rights oriented and insufficiently concerned with issues of citizenship and our civic culture? Or just the reverse?
Sondra Farganis received a PhD from Australian National University and is a recipient of Fulbright and NEH awards. She is the director of the Wolfson Center for National Affairs and her publications include Social Reconstruction of the Feminine Character, Situating Feminism, and articles on contemporary social and political thought. Dr. Farganis has taught at CUNY, Vassar, and Hamilton.
January 1, 2011, Bob Kerrey completed his tenure as seventh President of The New School, a university founded on strong democratic ideals and daring educational practices, an environment that was well suited for his leadership. He also served as New School's President Emeritus from January 1, 2011 to January 31, 2013.
Prior to coming to The New School Bob Kerrey represented Nebraska in the United States Senate. For two terms, Senator Kerrey emphasized the direct connection between citizens and their laws, and made a concerted effort to allow Nebraskans to participate in writing laws that defined the quality and inclusiveness of their health care system, their schools and the safety of their communities. He served on the Senate's Agriculture and Forestry Committee, Senate's Appropriations Committee, Senate's Finance Committee, and last but not least on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence where he worked to restructure our intelligence agencies to improve their capacity to meet the threats faced by our country. Prior to serving in the U.S. Senate Bob Kerrey served a single term as Nebraska's Governor. He established a reputation as a fiscal conservative who regularly crossed political party lines for the good of Nebraska and the Country.
Bob Kerrey served three years in the United States Navy. While in Vietnam, he was wounded, permanently disabled from the injury, and from this injury received a great gift: Sympathy for those who are suffering and an appreciation for the capacity of government to save your life. Before his time in the Navy Bob Kerrey attended the University of Nebraska graduating in January 1966 with a BS degree in pharmacy. He was born in Lincoln and attended public schools there. In 2002 he published a memoir "When I Was A Young Man."
Bob Kerrey is married to Sarah Paley and lives in New York. The couple has a 12-year-old son, Henry, and Mr. Kerrey has two children from his previous marriage, Ben and Lindsey Kerrey, and four grandchildren.
Sanford Levinson is the W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair and a professor of government at the University of Texas. He has been teaching law and government at UT since 1980, following a teaching position at Princeton University. His specialty is the United States Constitution, about which he has written hundreds of articles and several books. His most recent book Framed: America’s 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance, looks at the United States Constitution in the context of American state constitutions, many of which are interestingly different in providing models of governance. He was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001.