2019 - 2020

A Conversation with Mr. Jeffery Robinson: The Role of Race in the Criminal Injustice System

A renowned lawyer who has been fighting for justice for almost 40 years, Jeffery Robinson is the deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) national office and director of the ACLU’s Trone Center for Justice and Equality, which houses the organization’s work on criminal and racial justice issues. He is a dynamic, sought-after speaker on the role of race in the criminal justice system and a nationally recognized trial attorney, having tried over 200 criminal cases to verdict.

It was moderated by Goldfarb Center Executive Director Kimberly Flowers, Grace Hillis ’24 from the Goldfarb Student Executive Board, and Emmanuel Sogunle ’21 from the Student Government Association.

Be sure to check out the recorded video from the Goldfarb Center’s event to see these timely issues debated on criminal justice and racial inequities, which is the Center’s public policy theme of the year.

A Conversation with Congressman Hank Johnson: The U.S. Criminal Justice System & Racial Inequities

October 28, 2020

Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia’s fourth district, now in his seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives, is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the Secretary of the Congressional Black Caucus. As the author of the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act, a part of the Congressional Black Caucus’s response to police and vigilante violence against African Americans across the country, he was a perfect speaker for this year’s annual theme, U.S. Criminal Justice System and Racial Inequities.

The discussion was opened by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Sociology and African-American Studies Dr. Cheryl Townsend Gilkes and moderated by Goldfarb Center Executive Director Kimberly Flowers, Halle Carroll ’23, and Reagan Dennis ’23. The group discussed the presidential candidates’ stances on criminal justice reform, the War on Drugs, mass incarceration, and a number of other pertinent subjects regarding criminal justice.

Check out the recorded video below!

Debate Watch Parties

First Presidential Debate – September 29, 2020
Vice Presidential Debate – October 7, 2020
Final Presidential Debate – October 22, 2020

The Goldfarb Student Engagement Committee joined forces with ColbyVotes to host Colby College’s first-ever officially registered debate watch party with the Commission on Presidential Debates on the lawn of Dana Hall. The series of events continued a week later with the Vice Presidential Debate between current Vice President Mike Pence and Vice Presidential candidate and current Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), followed by the final debate, hosted in Page Commons. Pizza and refreshments were served and lots of fun Goldfarb-branded items, including fleece blankets, beanies and water bottles were given out to the first 25-35 attendees.

A Conversation with Naomi Klein

October 6, 2020

On Tuesday, October 6, the Center for the Arts and Humanities, Environmental Humanities, the Lunder Institute for American Art, the Colby Museum of Art, the Oak Institute for Human Rights, the Environmental Studies program, and the Goldfarb Center hosted a live Zoom webinar with Naomi Klein. Klein was selected as the fall 2020 keynote speaker for the humanities theme, Boundaries and Margins. Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist, and international and New York Times best selling author.

Not Racist or Antiracist? A Conversation with Ibram X. Kendi

September 16, 2020

On Wednesday, September 16, nearly 1,400 Colby students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, trustees, and donors attended an online conversation with bestselling author and leading scholar of race, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, on the topic of “Not Racist or Antiracist: What’s the Difference?” 

Colby President David Green and new Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Tayo Clyburn provided opening remarks and Assistant Professor of Government Carrie LeVan moderated. As part of the program, Kendi took pre-submitted questions from students, including two students from the Goldfarb Student Executive Board. 

George J. Mitchell Distinguished Lecture

September 10, 2020

On Thursday, September 10, the Goldfarb Center welcomed Ambassador Daniel Kurzter, the former Ambassador to Israel and Egypt and current S. Daniel Abraham Professor of Middle East Policy Studies at Princeton, who delivered a lecture titled “Middle East Conundrum: a Riddle, Wrapped In a Mystery, Inside a Conundrum.” The talk was live streamed on the Goldfarb Center’s YouTube channel, and has been watched over by over 300 people since its recording. Andrew Ordentlich ‘23, co-chair of the Goldfarb Student Executive Board, introduced the former Ambassador and Kimberly Flowers, executive director of the Goldfarb Center, hosted the lecture. Toward the end of the program, Ambassador Kurtzer took live questions from the audience. 

Past Events

COVID CHATS on Instagram Live

Senator Angus King – 7 April 20
Senator Susan Collins – April 22
Henry E. M. Beck ’09, state treasurer – April 27
Representative Matt Ritter ‘04 – April 28

Like others in the Colby Community, the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs has been thinking of creative ways to keep students connected and engaged during this difficult time. Next Monday we will be kicking off a live speaker series on Instagram to discuss the pandemic response with congressional, state, and regional leaders. Join us for conversations with speakers like Senators Angus King and Susan Collins. Follow @GoldfarbCenter on Instagram.

The series, all hosted on @GoldfarbCenter’s Instagram account, includes the following line up:

Wealth Inequality: What It Looks Like and Why It Matters

Wealth Inequality: What It Looks Like and Why It Matters

March 3, 2020

The wealth gap between the ​haves​ and the ​have-nots​ is at an all-time high, and the disparity is even larger among marginalized sects of the population. In line with the Goldfarb Center’s theme of racial income inequality this year, Christel Kesler, associate professor of sociology, joined us on March 3 to examine the role of policy on the growing wealth gap in the United States. In addition to the overarching issue of wealth inequality, Kesler’s talk zeroed in on wealth discrepancies based on race and gender.

As time goes on, fewer and fewer are in a position to accumulate wealth. Whether living paycheck to paycheck due to low wages, relying on a social safety net because of an inability to participate in the job market, or living as a single parent with bills piling up, myriad policies have widened the wealth gap tremendously over the last few decades.

Also important to discuss is how the wealth gap is further fissured due to race and gender inequality. To put the level of inequality into perspective, Professor Kesler shared that on average, black households own only 2% of the wealth that white households do. Wage gaps based on gender, as well as the bulk of single parenting falling to mothers, are additional ways in which some find it impossible to achieve upward mobility. Professor Kesler offered that there is no one policy change that will singularly close this cavernous gap.


Coronavirus Panel

February 25, 2020

Gail Carlson, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, Susan Childers, Instructor of Biology, Walter Hatch, Associate Professor of Government, and Laura Seay, Assistant Professor of Government

In late February, members of the Colby Community gathered for a panel discussion on infectious disease and policy management. The discussion was initiated and moderated by Colby freshman Josh Brause ’23, freshman representative on the Goldfarb Student Engagement Committee. Panelists included Gail Carlson, associate professor of Environmental Studies; Susan Childers, instructor of Biology, Walter Hatch, associate professor of Government; and Laura Seay, Assistant Professor of Government. Goldfarb. The timely discussion centered around COVID-19, the virus responsible for our current pandemic. The situation has escalated significantly since the panel took place; what was at the time an isolated outbreak has since been declared a pandemic.

Professor Carlson provided the current data from the World Health Organization (WHO), a faction under the United Nations. At the time of the panel discussion, there were roughly 80,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally, with 97% of those cases in China. She mentioned that COVID-19, along with SARS and MERS are all coronaviruses that cause acute respiratory illness. SARS was quickly contained, while MERS is still ongoing, however, there are only around 2,500 confirmed cases.

Professor Seay gave us a glimpse at the role of worldwide organizations responsible for addressing public health issues, such as the WHO Seay noted that politically, the WHO is operating on a delicate line of representing best practices in global health, while also maintaining strong relations with nations that are the site of ongoing outbreaks. Josh Brause ’23 noted that the WHO had recently issued a public health emergency declaration for COVID-19, urging the global community to take the disease seriously. Professor Hatch, whose area of study includes Asia, addressed criticism of the Chinese government, and why the decentralized nature of government may have led to the delay in reporting, as well as underreporting the scope of the outbreak.

How do pandemics like these emerge? Susan Childers explained how certain conditions lead to disease outbreaks like the one we’re battling globally. Bats, the species suspected to be the source of the virus, can pick up and spread diseases as they migrate. Many diseases are unable to survive in a bat’s body as they fly, however, some do. Environments with a mix of dead and live animals, wild and domestic, place stress on the live animals, weakening their immune systems and increasing shedding of the virus, which became zoonotic, meaning it can infect multiple different species.

For more information, be sure to follow the CDC guidelines to limit the spread. Stay home. Stay safe.

The Diversity Bargain and Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions, and Meritocracy at Elite Universities

How Elite Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students

February 20, 2020

Anthony Jack, Assistant Professor of Education at Harvard University | Author of The Privileged Poor

The Goldfarb Center, in collaboration with Campus Life, kicked off an inspiring and engaging semester of programming by welcoming Anthony “Tony” Jack, Professor of Sociology at Harvard University, to Mayflower Hill in mid-February. His research focuses on the closely-knit relationship between elite higher education institutions and privilege, particularly, how these institutions often fail poor students. Professor Jack noted that while institutions have become more diverse in many ways, many still fall short in addressing the inequities that pose as barriers to performing in a demanding and foreign environment.

Through personal anecdotes and data that emerged through his research, Jack zeroed in on the idea that access is not inclusion. Because a large percentage of students at elite institutions come from privileged backgrounds, schools often ignore the needs of students from lower income brackets who encounter a wide swath of different obstacles to educational attainment. Professor Jack stated that “rest was a luxury I could not afford.” While a student, he had as many as four jobs at a time to support both himself and his family. Anywhere he could pick up an extra shift, he would.

Professor Jack concluded by guiding the audience back to his central message: Access is not inclusion. Diversity has become a major marketing tool for institutions across the nation, but all too often, schools fall short in addressing the diverse and uneven needs of individuals. Jack offered that there are steps many elite colleges and universities are taking to address some of these hurdles, such as pre-orientation programs for students and families from low-income backgrounds to provide additional resources and support. He ended by stating that, in demanding change, “be unapologetic, be bold, be you.”

Putin, Russia, and the Media: Journalism in Contemporary Russia

October 1, 2019

At least 21 journalists have been killed in Russia since Putin became president in 2000, and 58 since the early 1990s. Given also state control of media, renewed protests against the administration, and growing economic and political problems at home, what are the prospects for journalists in present-day Russia who wish to write about these subjects? How can we understand the government’s attacks — physical, psychological and political — against the free press?


Professor Jamila Michener, Cornell University

“Engaging Race, Strengthening Community, Sustaining Democracy”

September 15, 2019

Race continues to play a fundamental role in shaping economic, social and political life in the United States and across the world. Yet, many Americans have limited knowledge of the historical and contemporary processes that account for racial inequality. As a result, few people are equipped to recognize and confront racial inequities in their own lives and communities. Americans’ collective inability to conscientiously contend with race enables systems of oppression, weakens bonds of community, and undermines democracy. In this talk, Professor Michener offers historically grounded, evidence-rich, practical insights on these longstanding dilemmas.

2018 - 2019

Meet and Greet with Andrew Rudman ’87

Meet and Greet with Andrew Rudman ’87

April 18, 2019

The Goldfarb Center offered a meet and greet with Andrew Rudman ‘87, a Managing Partner at Monach Strategies. Students had the opportunity to learn about Andrew’s path through the State Department, Commerce, and the private sector for an insider’s view of navigating Washington. Light refreshments will be served!

Mexico Under AMLO

April 18, 2019

AMLO—the President of Mexico—is riding high in the polls, with between 67% and 85% of the population approving of his performance. His first 4 months in office have been dramatically marked by halting the construction of Mexico City’s new international airport, suspending bids and auctions in the energy sector, and raising the minimum wage. He has targeted corruption in daycare and fuel and has pragmatically led in his relationship with the United States. Can he deliver? Andrew Rudman ’87 put the historic election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (known as AMLO) into context and describe the objectives for his “4th Transformation” of Mexico. In his talk, Rudman described AMLO’s governing style, highlighted his accomplishments to date (after a mere four months in office) and discussed the challenges that could prevent him from delivering on his ambitious promise to reform Mexico.

The Diversity Bargain and Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions, and Meritocracy at Elite Universities

April 8, 2019

The Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs, Education Program, Sociology Department, and Interdisciplinary Studies Division hosted guest speaker Natasha Kumar Warikoo, Associate Professor of Education at Harvard University

Natasha Warikoo is an expert on racial and ethnic inequality in education. Her most recent book, The Diversity Bargain: And Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions, and Meritocracy at Elite Universities (University of Chicago Press, 2016), illuminates how undergraduates attending Ivy League universities and Oxford University conceptualize race and meritocracy. The book emphasizes the contradictions, moral conundrums, and tensions on campus related to affirmative action and diversity, and how these vary across racial and national lines. The book won multiple awards from the American Sociological Association, the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and the American Educational Studies Association.

Leading Diverse Organizations: Lessons from Military Commanders​

Leading Diverse Organizations: Lessons from Military Commanders

March 18, 2019

The military is one of the most diverse American institutions; success is a function of bringing people from different backgrounds and perspectives together to achieve a common goal. How do military leaders promote inclusivity? How are diverse talents identified? What gets in the way of leading a diverse organization? LCDR Melissa Maclin ’98, Naval Intelligence Officer and Commander (RET) Michael D. Wisecup, Colby Presidential Leadership Fellow, former Navy Seal explored these issues to help the audience develop their own inclusive leadership style.

We began with a small case study on the Bin Laden mission. Please take a look at this piece in the New Yorker or this Guardian article to refresh your understanding of this situation

Climate Change and the Threats to Global -and National- Security

Climate Change and the Threats to Global -and National- Security

March 14, 2019

The Goldfarb Center at Colby College hosted a lecture with speaker Brigadier General Stephen Cheney, USMC (Ret.) of the American Security Project. The world is heating up. Despite skepticism from climate change deniers, our bases and stations are literally going under water, and our military is seeing conflict accelerate – thanks to climate change. Increasing catastrophic weather is causing undeniable humanitarian crises – to which we have to respond. What does the future portend? What should we be doing about it? Who is most affected?

The lecture was free open to the public and was held in the Parker Reed Room of the Schair Swenson Watson Alumni Center

Education and Poverty: The High Cost of Attaining Equity

Education and Poverty: The High Cost of Attaining Equity

March 4, 2019

The Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs hosted guest speaker Roger Schulman, President, and CEO of Fund for Educational Excellence on March 4th for a 7 pm lecture in Roberts, Robins room. Mr. Schulman, who has over 20 years of experience in urban education works closely with a wide variety of district, foundation, and community partners to promote the Fund’s mission of increasing educational opportunities for Baltimore City’s public school students. He has been a leader in pulling together local and national coalitions to support such district-wide priorities as developing stronger school and classroom leaders, assessing school effectiveness, and improving literacy and graduation rates.

People, Borders, and Walls: Immigration Policy from Obama to Trump

February 21, 2019

Guest speaker Alejandro Mayorkas, Partner, WilmerHale, former Deputy Secretary, Homeland Security, and a Colby parent, rolled out DACA under President Obama. Before joining WilmerHale, Mr. Mayorkas served as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, where he managed some of the most complex and critical responsibilities of government, including preventing and responding to terrorist attacks on US soil, enhancing both the government’s and the private sector’s cybersecurity, enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, facilitating lawful trade and travel, and helping stricken communities recover from disasters. For his service as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, Mr. Mayorkas received the Department’s Distinguished Service Award, its highest civilian honor; the US Coast Guard’s Distinguished Service Award; a special commendation from the National Security Agency for his achievements in national security and, specifically, cybersecurity; and numerous additional awards and commendations.

Ranked Choice Voting: Can it Work for the 2020 Presidential Election?​

Ranked Choice Voting: Can it Work for the 2020 Presidential Election?

February 7, 2019

Rob Richie, president, and CEO of FairVote spoke on Ranked Choice Voting and the moves to make it apply to the presidential primaries or caucuses (and general election) in Maine.

Richie has played a key role in advancing, winning, and implementing electoral reforms at the local and state levels. He has been involved in implementing ranked-choice voting in more than a dozen cities, cumulative voting in numerous Voting Rights Act cases, the National Popular Vote plan in 11 states, and promoting voter access proposals like voter preregistration and lower voting age.

Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Age

Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Age

December 3, 2018

Do our words matter?  Alexander Heffner, host of The Open Mind on PBS explores the increasing divisiveness in American life, the toxic climate of political rhetoric and violence, and the steps to correct this plague on our democracy. The discussion will consider how we the people, elected officeholders, digital platforms, and journalists can work to reverse the disunion.

Not only does Mr. Heffner’s show exemplify civility, but thanks to a 2016 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Mr. Heffner has spent significant time exploring free speech from the expression on college campuses to hate speech on the Internet.

Mr. Heffner has covered American politics, civic life and Millennials since the 2008 presidential campaign. He is a co-author of A Documentary History of the United States (Penguin, 2018). A native New Yorker, he is a graduate of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and Harvard. His work has been profiled in The Washington PostNew York TimesLos Angeles TimesDes Moines RegisterChristian Science MonitorVarietyMedium, and on NBC NewsMSNBCC-SPANNPRCNNBBC, and ABC, among other media outlets. His writing has appeared in TIMEUSA TODAYDaily BeastReutersRealClearPoliticsNYT’s Room for DebateThe Wall Street JournalBoston Globe and Philadelphia Inquirer, among other publications.  He was the political director for WHRB 95.3 FM and host of The Political Arena.

RANKED CHOICE VOTING: Maine’s experience and the Future​

RANKED CHOICE VOTING: Maine’s experience and the Future

October 29, 2018

The documentary film was followed by a discussion led by Sandy Maisel, Goldfarb Family Distinguished Professor of American Government, and Betsy Sweet, progressive lobbyist and 2018 candidate in Maine’s spring primary run under Ranked Choice Voting.

Ranked Choice Voting is a means of counting votes in races with more than two candidates. Each voter ranks the candidates in order of preference; after the votes are counted, if no one has a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and that candidate’s votes are re-allocated to the voters’ second choice. The process is repeated until one candidate receives a majority.

Maine voters approved the use of Ranked Choice Voting by referendum; A court challenge has followed; Maine used the process for primaries last spring, the first time a state has done so. This fall Ranked Choice Voting will be used in the races for the United States Senate and Congress, though no state office (use in those elections is still under challenge). This program will discuss the procedure, how it was implemented, and what comes next.

Midterm Elections 2018 program Is this the Year of the Woman? Will women candidates and voters swing the Congress? ​

Midterm Elections 2018 program Is this the Year of the Woman? Will women candidates and voters swing the Congress?

October 25, 2018

Jennifer L. Lawless is the Commonwealth Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia. A perfect speaker to discuss the upcoming election with so many women on the ballot, she is a leading national expert on political ambition and women in American politics, the author or co-author of six books, including Women on the Run: Gender, Media, and Political Campaigns in a Polarized Era (with Danny Hayes) and It Still Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don’t Run for Office (with Richard L. Fox).

Lives Still in Limbo: UnDACAmented and Navigating Uncertain Futures

Lives Still in Limbo: UnDACAmented and Navigating Uncertain Futures

September 24, 2018

Roberto G. Gonzales, Ph.D. Harvard University Graduate School of Education

Due to the political gridlock in the U.S. Congress, the fate of more than two million young immigrants remains uncertain. With legalization efforts stalled, on June 15, 2012, President Obama introduced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a change in his administration’s enforcement policy that would temporarily defer deportations from the United States for undocumented youth and young adults, in addition to providing temporary Social Security numbers and two-year work permits. At the six-year mark, more than 814,000 young people have benefited from the program and, as a result, had taken giant steps towards the American mainstream. Things changed under the Trump administration. On September 5, 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced an end to what had become a very successful policy. What does this termination mean for these young people and their families? Based on a multi-year study, Professor Gonzales provides some interesting answers to these vexing questions.

Roberto G. Gonzales is a Professor of Education at Harvard University Graduate School of Education.  Since 2002 he has carried out one of the most comprehensive studies of undocumented immigrants in the United States. His book, Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America, is based on an in-depth study that followed 150 undocumented young adults in Los Angeles for twelve years. To date, Lives in Limbo has won seven major book awards, including the Society for the Study of Social Problems C. Wright Mills Award, the American Education Research Association Outstanding Book Award, and the Law and Society Association Herbert Jacob Book Award. It has also been adopted by several universities as a common read and is being used by K-12 schools across the country in teacher and staff training. In addition, Professor Gonzales’ National UnDACAmented Research Project has surveyed nearly 2,700 undocumented young adults and has carried out 500 in-depth interviews on their experiences following President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.