School of Social Science
Paul Atewell, Leon Levy Foundation Member, School of Social Science. In the United States, ever-increasing proportions of high school graduates continue into college, and more and more undergraduates continue into master’s programs. One concern with educational expansion is that many students do not complete their degrees; they “drop out.” Some read this as proof that too many students are going to college, but other scholars argue that not enough Americans are receiving degrees. In this talk, Paul Attewell, Professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, will consider the reasons behind the dropout phenomenon, examining individual factors but also highlighting government policies and institutional practices that undercut students’ progress toward graduation.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was founded in the 1740s as a utopian religious community. At the turn of the twentieth century, it became one of the iconic steel towns of industrial America, a destination for working-class immigrants and the producer of steel for a century of skyscrapers and battleships. At the turn of the twenty-first century, it underwent the familiar fate of deindustrialization, as steel production came to an end.
This lecture was part of the Institute for Advanced Study’s celebration of its eightieth anniversary, and took place during the events related to the Schools and Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
This lecture was part of the Institute for Advanced Study’s celebration of its eightieth anniversary, and took place during the events related to the Schools of Historical Studies and Social Science.
Panel Discussion: Secularism and Human Rights: Basic Human Rights in History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology
Didier Fassin, James D. Wolfensohn Professor, School of Social Science
Jonathan Israel, Professor, School of Historical Studies
Avishai Margalit, George F. Kennan Professor, School of Historical Studies
Joan Wallach Scott, Harold F. Linder Professor, School of Social Science
In this lecture, Rohini Somanathan, Leon Levy Foundation Member, School of Social Science, explores the emergence and the consequences of the strategy adopted by the Indian state to equalize opportunity. In the 1950s, the several thousand castes that constitute Indian society were placed into four official categories. These subsequently formed the basis of identifying disadvantage and compensating for it through affirmative action.
U.S. presidential elections often drive many citizens to vote strategically—to vote for a candidate they do not like in hope of preventing someone they dislike even more from winning. Many who favored Ralph Nader in the 2000 election ended up voting for Al Gore (though not enough to stop George W. Bush from getting elected). And a lot of those inclined toward Ross Perot in 1992 voted for George H. W. Bush instead (though Bill Clinton still won). An electoral system that induces widespread strategic voting, which is hardly unique to America, is undesirable for many reasons. Most obviously, it deprives citizens of the chance to express their views without fear that doing so will lead to the election of someone they strongly oppose. In this lecture, Eric Maskin, Albert O. Hirschman Professor in the School of Social Science and winner of the 2007 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, discusses how to design electoral systems that do not put voters in this bind.
Current educational policy discussions frequently invoke “equality” as the reigning ideal. But how clear a view do we have of what we mean by this? What exactly are we trying to achieve? In this lecture, Danielle Allen, UPS Foundation Professor in the School of Social Science, revisits the question of how to understand the ideal of equality in the context of educational policy.
Pay for Performance or Performance for Pay: The Economics of the Employment Contract from Roman Times to Our Time
Employment contracts are central to many current policy debates. New York City is experimenting with rewarding teachers based on value added in the hope that it will improve performance. Compensation practices in the financial sector are often viewed as a contributing factor to the financial crisis, resulting in increased regulation. At the same time, there are continued calls to reduce the public sector and rely more on market forces. In the 2012 Leon Levy Lecture, W. Bentley MacLeod, Sami Mnaymneh Professor of Economics and Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, discusses two approaches to compensation: “pay for performance” and “performance for pay.” When preconditions for market supply of goods and services are satisfied, then pay for performance is effective. But when performance is difficult to measure, there is a need to reward performance with pay. MacLeod illustrates these ideas with examples taken from the management of Roman villas from the time of Columella and Pliny the Younger, and explains why the lack of effective management may be a key factor in the poor performance of schools and financial markets.