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IS HOMER DEAD? Teaching the Classics

with Page duBois, Bruce Thorntonvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, September 28, 2001

Does Homer still matter? For more than 2000 years, the ancient Greeks and Romans have had a special place in the canon of western civilization and their writings have been studied by generation after generation of scholars and students. But are the classics still relevant in twenty-first century, multi-cultural America? Or are the ancient Greeks of no more importance to us than other ancient cultures such as the Aztecs, Egyptians, or Chinese?

George Shultz

ENEMY AT THE GATES: The War on Terrorism

with George P. Shultzvia Uncommon Knowledge
Tuesday, September 25, 2001

We asked George Shultz, secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, to help us put America's war on terrorism in historical, political, and moral context. What lessons can be drawn from previous attempts to deal with terrorism? What should we make of the complaints leveled against the United States by terrorist organizations? What will it take to win the war on terrorism and how long will it last?

DIVISIONS AND DECISIONS: The Ethics of Stem Cell Research

with Irving Weissmanvia Uncommon Knowledge
Tuesday, September 25, 2001

In August of 2001, President Bush announced his decision to limit federal funding of stem cell research to already established lines of embryonic stem cells, while forbidding funding for any research that required the destruction of additional human embryos. But his decision ended neither stem cell research nor the debate over the ethics of such research. How do we weigh the medical benefits of this research against the destruction of embryos? Where do we draw the line on research using human embryos and are we on a slippery slope toward even more controversial research?

FATHERS KNOWN BEST: The Founding Fathers

with Joyce Appleby, Jack Rakove, Alan Taylorvia Uncommon Knowledge
Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Biographies of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams and histories of the revolutionary era have been bestsellers and Pulitzer Prize winners in the past several years. What explains this recent surge of interest in the founding fathers of the American nation? What does the fascination with the founding fathers tell us about our own time? What would the founders have to say about the state of the nation today?

Milton Friedman

ECONOMICS AND WAR: The Economic Impact of the War on Terrorism

with Milton Friedmanvia Uncommon Knowledge
Tuesday, September 25, 2001

The September 11 attacks in New York and Washington have already cost America thousands of lives and billions of dollars in damages. But those are only the direct costs. How severe and how lasting will the impact be on our economy as whole? And how will new burdens on the federal government, including a military buildup and a bailout of the airline industry, affect fiscal policy? Should the government cut taxes or increase spending to get the economy moving again?

DIRE STRAITS: Whither Japan?

with Steven Clemons, T.J. Pempel, Steven Vogelvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, August 31, 2001

Following World War II, Japan reinvented itself both politically, as it adopted the institutions of democratic government, and economically, as it became a dominant producer and exporter of consumer goods. These reforms were so successful that, ten years ago, experts were predicting that Japan would overtake the United States as an economic superpower. Instead, Japan experienced a decade of recession and economic stagnation that continues still. What happened? Is this a sign of serious structural problems in Japan's political and economic institutions? In other words, is it time for Japan to reinvent itself once again? If so, how should the United States alter its relationship with a new Japan?

ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS: Bias in the New Media

with Norman Solomon, Harry Steinvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, August 31, 2001

Our leading newspapers and major television news networks portray themselves as objective and impartial presenters of the news. But are they? And if not, are they biased to the left as conservatives have long claimed or beholden to corporate interests, as those on the left have claimed? If bias in the news media is a problem, what should be done about it?

THE GOOD DOCTOR? The Case of Henry Kissinger

with John O'Sullivanvia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, July 23, 2001

To what extent are government leaders personally responsible for the outcomes of foreign policy and war? We review the career of Henry Kissinger, one of the most colorful statesmen of the twentieth century. Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Kissinger served as national security adviser and secretary of state under Presidents Nixon and Ford during two pivotal events in American history, the cold war and the Vietnam War. Is Kissinger guilty, as some have charged, of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his conduct during that era? Or should he be regarded as a bold defender of American freedom during a time of crisis?

A CRITICAL DISTANCE: Literature and Politics

with Timothy Garton Ashvia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, July 23, 2001

What is the proper role of the intellectual in public life? Plato believed that philosophers should govern society. He founded his famous Academy with the hope of creating such "philosopher kings." Another philosopher, Immanuel Kant, however, believed that "the possession of power unavoidably spoils the free use of reason." Therefore, he argued that intellectuals should keep a proper distance from the political realm. Who is right, Kant or Plato?

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT: The Politics of Hollywood

with Rob Long, Harry Shearervia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, July 20, 2001

In 1992, Bill Clinton received 43 percent of the national vote, but he received 83 percent of the vote from film and television writers, directors, and producers. Is Hollywood as liberal as these data suggest? If so, why? Does Hollywood have a cohesive liberal agenda that affects the films and television programs we watch?

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