Campus scholars' perspectives on topical issues — in conversation with you

Berkeley leadership needed for a social movement on climate and justice

This also appeared September 20, 2019 in The Daily Californian: Berkeley Leadership for the Social Movement on Climate and Justice   I came to UC Berkeley 20 years ago, largely because of its unrivaled reputation as a place that fosters both world-leading scholarship and social engagement.  I have not been disappointed: my research has flourished here … Continue reading »

Demagogues and Democracy – It Can’t Happen Here?

“Societies with strong democratic traditions and civil discourse may appear to be partially immune to the worst scenarios of nationalism gone haywire,” writes John Douglass, a senior research fellow at the Center for Studies in Higher Education. “But reflecting on the history of the United States … perhaps democracy itself is more fragile than many of us would like to think. Others have thought so.”

Poverty rates improve—but, really, is this the best we can do?

Today the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual report on poverty rates through 2018. The overall rate of 11.8% for 2018 was a mark of continued improvement from the 15% recorded from 2010-12 due to the Great Recession (blue line in the chart). There was also continued improvement to the rate of children in poverty … Continue reading »

Lessons from the Laureates for Economics, Agriculture, and the Environment

One immediate benefit of winning the Wolf Prize was receiving an invitation to the World Laureates Sanya Forum in China. This meeting hosted 21 Nobel Prize, Fields Medal, Turing Award, and/or Wolf Prize laureates, as well as leading Chinese scientists. Sanya is China’s Hawaii, with tropical weather, beautiful beaches and splendid resorts, where we enjoyed … Continue reading »

Lies about migrants, and the rise of the extreme right

The ascendance of the far right has jolted both American and European politics. It has undermined liberal democracy in Hungary and Poland, and threatens it in the United States and throughout Europe. That ascendance depends on virulent opposition to immigration and immigrants. Opposition to  immigration is Donald Trump’s lodestar. Anti-immigrant rhetoric defines his central political … Continue reading »