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Aharon BarakAharon Barak | Photo by NYU Law

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IU Institute for Advanced Study announces 2016-17 Remak Seminar on 'Dignity, Equality and Social Justice'

Nov. 3, 2016


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University’s Institute for Advanced Study has selected “Dignity, Equality and Social Justice” as the focus of its 2016-17 Remak Seminar.

Internationally acclaimed jurist and scholar Aharon Barak will launch the seminar series with an appearance via video at Indiana University Bloomington next week. Barak, a former president of the Supreme Court of Israel, will discuss his book "Human Dignity: The Constitutional Value and the Constitutional Right." His presentation takes place at noon Nov. 10 in the Moot Court Room of the Maurer School of Law. The event is free and open to the public.

Barak, who also is a professor of law at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, and a lecturer in law at several Israeli and North American universities, will discuss his book via video with Steve Sanders, associate professor of law in the Maurer School of Law and leader of the 2016-17 Remak Seminar.

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan introduced Barak as her "judicial hero" at an award ceremony when she was dean of the Harvard Law School. “He is the judge or justice in my lifetime whom, I think, best represents and has best advanced the values of democracy and human rights, of the rule of law and of justice,” Kagan said.

The annual Remak Seminar and Distinguished Scholar Lecture were established in 2010 to honor IU Bloomington faculty member Henry H.H. Remak, professor of German, comparative literature and European studies; dean of the faculties and vice chancellor (1969-74); and director of the Institute for Advanced Study (1988-94 and 1997-98). The Remak Seminar enables a collaborative team of four to eight IU Bloomington scholars from multiple disciplines to meet regularly on campus throughout the course of an academic year, focusing on a specific theme and bringing prominent scholars, scientists and artists to work with them and graduate students in ground-breaking collaborations.

Seminar leader Sanders argues that while "dignity" is frequently invoked in discussions of human rights and politics, the concept itself has received comparatively little attention.

“Critical examination of dignity can connect us with significant legal and philosophical debates of the past while informing discourse on urgent contemporary controversies such as institutional racism, criminal justice, immigration policy, voting rights, health policy, religious liberty and LGBT equality,” Sanders said.

Sanders teaches constitutional and family law as well as constitutional litigation. He is also an affiliated faculty member in IU’s Department of Gender Studies, the Kinsey Institute and the Department of Political Science. Before coming to IU, Sanders practiced for four years with the Supreme Court and appellate litigation practice group of the global law firm Mayer Brown LLP, where he represented, among other clients, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Association of University Professors and groups of university faculty members. His scholarship focuses on questions arising from the 14th Amendment’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Having worked early in his career as assistant to the chancellor (now provost) and assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington, he continues to take interest in higher education law and academic freedom. In addition to scholarly publications, Sanders writes regularly for The Huffington Post, SCOTUSBlog, and other print and online media.

“As we take the pulse of the world today, the 2016-17 seminar theme seems particularly timely, with the potential to engage broad sectors of the campus and Bloomington community,” said Eileen Julien, director of the Institute for Advanced Study. “Through the Remak Seminar and other mechanisms that facilitate collaborations among local faculty and visiting colleagues in a wide range of fields, the institute and IU Bloomington continually take an active part in national and international conversations.”

Joining Sanders as seminar participants will be:

  • Cara Caddoo, assistant professor, Department of History and The Media School
  • Judith Failer, associate professor, Department of Political Science
  • Luis Fuentes-Rohwer, professor and Harry T. Ice Faculty Fellow, Maurer School of Law; adjunct professor, Department of Latino Studies and Department of Political Science
  • Colin Johnson, associate professor, Department of Gender Studies; adjunct associate professor, Department of American Studies, Department of History and Department of Human Biology
  • Sheila Kennedy, professor, School of Public and Environmental Affairs; faculty fellow, Center for Religion and American Culture; adjunct professor, Department of Political Science, all at IUPUI
  • Sean Nicholson-Crotty, professor, School of Public and Environmental Affairs
  • Brian Powell, Rudy Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology; affiliated faculty, Department of Gender Studies and The Kinsey Institute

The 2016-17 Remak Seminar events will include public presentations by invited scholars; a Distinguished Scholar Lecture by Sanders in spring semester 2017; and a public exhibition opening in January 2017 of materials from IU’s Lilly Library collections that highlight themes of human dignity reflected in law, literature and other subject areas. Future public programs are expected to address issues of transgender equality, disability, race and the jurisprudence of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. The group also plans to launch a website to make recordings of the programs available to the public, along with contextual information produced by the seminar participants.

Information about dates and topics for the public presentations, exhibit and website will be shared on the institute's website on its Facebook page.