To mark New College’s 60th anniversary, this year’s series features noteworthy alumni whose New College experience prepared them for lives of note and careers of exceptional impact. The six-part series will be presented on the Zoom platform.
(Sarasota, Florida) The New College Foundation announces the 2020-2021 season of New Topics, a six-part lecture series showcasing national speakers from a broad range of disciplines exploring topical issues. To mark New College’s 60th anniversary, this year’s series features noteworthy alumni whose New College experience prepared them for lives of note and careers of exceptional impact. The series runs October through March and will be presented via the Zoom platform. Each lecture will be presented at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10, and all proceeds go to fund student scholarships. Registration is required and can be made at ncf.edu/new-topics or by calling the New College events hotline at 941-487-4888. Reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance to allow for processing and receipt email for Zoom link. The series is free for New College students, faculty, staff and alumni. The series is sponsored, in part, by Sarasota Magazine and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.
New Topics 2020-2021 Speakers
Thursday, October 1
“Privacy and Accountability: Not a Contradiction”
With Dr. Anita L. Allen
Dr. Allen will explore how ideals of freedom and moral responsibility for personal conduct can be squared. The pandemic of COVID 19 and increased state and industry surveillance raise this issue acutely.
Anita L. Allen (’70-’74) is the Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and professor of philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. Allen is a global thought leader in the fields of privacy law, data protection and ethics. She is the chair of the board of the Electronic Privacy Information Center and has received EPIC’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 30 years of pioneering privacy scholarship and advocacy. Allen is one of the first African-American women to receive a doctorate in philosophy and the very first in history to be elected president of the American Philosophical Association. A prolific scholar, Allen has written and spoken about a wide range of topics, including privacy law, the philosophical basis of privacy, bioethics, women’s rights, and race relations. These issues mark the fault lines of American society—and explain the seismic shift in our law and culture.
Thursday, October 15
“Understanding the 2020 Presidential Election:
What’s Going to Happen? What Does it Mean?”
A Panel Discussion with Eric Schickler and Alexis Simendinger
This panel discussion, moderated by Susan Burns (’76-‘80), editor-in-chief of Sarasota Magazine, will provide an overview of what political science can tell us about the 2020 election—what to expect, what to watch for on election night, and how to think about the results.
Eric Schickler (’87-’91) is the Jeffrey & Ashley McDermott Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of six books, including Investigating the President: Congressional Checks on Presidential Power (2016, with Douglas Kriner) and Racial Realignment: The Transformation of American Liberalism, 1932-1965, winner of the Woodrow Wilson Prize for the best book on government, politics or international affairs published in 2016. Schickler was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2017.
Alexis Simendinger (’75-’81) is an award-winning journalist who has covered the White House, Congress, national affairs, and presidential politics for respected, nonpartisan news outlets in Washington since 1986, reporting on five presidents, including Donald Trump. In 2017, she was inducted into the Society of Professional Journalists’ “Hall of Fame” in Washington and saluted for more than two decades of excellence in reporting about the nation’s capital. Simendinger has also served on the board of the New College Alumni Association and was a member of the board of New College Trustees. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and earned her B.A. from New College.
Susan Burns (’76-’80) is the editor-in-chief of Sarasota Magazine, recognized nationally and in Florida for its editorial and design excellence. A journalist in Sarasota and Manatee counties for 36 years, Burns has been covering the people, issues, trends, events, institutions and places that define the region. She was also the founding editor of (941)CEO, a bi-county business magazine, and the e-newsletter Biz Daily. In addition to Sarasota Magazine, the top-awarded magazine in the state in 2019 and 2020, Burns is in charge of two daily e-newsletters and is helping steer Sarasota Magazine through a major expansion into the digital world. She started her career as a daily newspaper reporter at the Bradenton Herald.
Thursday, November 12
“Challenge and Response: Facing Hard Choices in a Time of Economic Crisis”
With William Dudley
Thanks to the pandemic, the United States plunged from a record-breaking economic expansion to a severe recession. What choices do we need to make to reverse that trend and secure our economic future?
William Dudley (’71-’74) is a senior research scholar at Princeton University’s Center for Economic Policy Studies. He served as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 2009 to 2018 and was also the vice chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee. In 2019, Dudley spoke about our nation’s record-breaking economic expansion. Shortly after, the pandemic cut that short. With breathtaking speed, the United States economy has plunged from its recent heights to the deepest recession in decades. The American economy is sick. What is Dudley’s prescription to bring the patient back to health? What choices must we make to jump-start a recovery? How long will it take to turn things around? Depending on our choices, Dudley will define the best-case and worst-case scenarios.
“Inclusion at any Cost? When New College was ‘Home’ to a White Nationalist”
With R. Derek Black, Allison Gornik, and James Birmingham
At a moment when colleges around the country, including New College, are doubling down on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion, what can we learn from the turmoil and angst experienced 10 years ago, when New College students discovered that among their number was a young leader in America’s white nationalist movement?
More than merely a member of the movement, Derek Black served as a site moderator for Stormfront, America’s first “White Pride” website, created by his father and white nationalist movement leader, Don Black. Many students demanded that Black be expelled. Should the college congratulate itself for Black’s eventual renunciation of the white nationalist values he grew up with? When a community member’s political beliefs are perceived to be a clear and present danger to the community, what is the appropriate response for the community and its leadership?
R. Derek Black (’10-’13) was raised in a leading family of the American white nationalist movement. His father founded the first online white power community, Stormfront. From an early age, Black participated in media interviews, gave talks around the country, won public office, and ran a daily radio program in support of his family’s ideology. At New College, he was condemned by the campus community, and over several years came to engage with anti-racist ideas. He ultimately condemned his family’s ideology in 2013 and has spoken out over the past several years against the reality of white supremacist political activism. He is currently a doctoral student in history at the University of Chicago, researching the medieval and early modern origins of racist hierarchies and ideologies. Black is the subject of the book by Eli Saslow, Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist (2018).
Allison Gornik (’10-’14). While attending New College of Florida, Allison Gornik learned about Derek Black’s white supremacist advocacy much the same as every other student and condemned him in order to prioritize students who felt threatened. Her suitemate, Matthew Stevenson, however, knew Derek and soon invited him into their dorm for his weekly Shabbat dinner. Although Gornik initially avoided the dinners with Derek present, she eventually returned and the two of them started to talk outside of Stevenson’s events. Partly through many private and often painful conversations between the two of them, Derek eventually conceded that his ideology was not sound and advocating it was actively harmful, leading him to renounce it. Gornik’s role in this story is a primary focus of Eli Saslow’s book Rising Out of Hatred. Gornik is completing a postdoctoral fellowship after recently graduating with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
James Birmingham (’06-’10) is a South Florida native and first-generation college graduate. He worked for the Office of Volunteerism and Service Learning as a VISTA at NCF when word got out that Derek Black was a current student. Birmingham became a predominant and active voice in challenging Black’s presence on campus and led critical school-wide conversations on what having a prominent white nationalist at New College meant, detailed in Pulitzer Prize-winner Eli Saslow’s Rising Out of Hatred. Now an ex-Ph.D. student and craft bartender, Birmingham is building towards opening a worker-owned leftist bookstore cafe/social center. He is on the board of directors for the Institute for Anarchist Studies, co-founded the decade-long running All Power to the Imagination! conference at New College, is a founding member of the Black Trowel Collective, and organizes with the North American Anarchist Studies Network. Birmingham resides in Sarasota with his partner, Tiffany, a dog named Waffles, and a cat named Grits.
The panel will be moderated by Dr. Bill Woodson, Dean of Outreach and Engagement and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at New College.
“Reflections on a Congressional Career; Lessons for Today’s Politics”
With Lincoln Diaz-Balart
Reaching agreement is often a difficult task, but in a democracy, lasting progress is only possible through dialogue. What makes true dialogue possible?
Lincoln Rafael Díaz-Balart (’72-’76) is a Cuban-American attorney, consultant, and human rights advocate. He represented South Florida in the Florida Legislature from 1986 to 1992, and in Congress from 1993 to 2011. He authored and passed significant pieces of legislation in Congress, such as the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act of 1997 (NACARA), which granted legal residency to hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the U.S. who were previously at risk of deportation. Díaz-Balart founded the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) in 2003, which he still serves as chairman. CHLI provides internships and leadership training in our nation’s capital to college students. After leaving Congress in 2011, he founded El Instituto La Rosa Blanca (The White Rose Institute), which stands in solidarity with the pro-democracy movement in Cuba. He currently is a practicing attorney based in Miami.
“Cybersecurity and Civil Liberties”
With Jennifer Granick
The ability to speak, organize, and create was revolutionized by the internet, but technology has also been an engine for both public and privacy surveillance, opening up opportunities for civil liberties abuses and discrimination. To mitigate those abuses, individuals have been demanding improved cybersecurity measures, and so the political playing field has shifted to a battle over encryption. In this talk, Granick will explore the current debate and legislative proposals and offer tips on how people can protect themselves and get involved.
Jennifer Granick (’86-’90) is the ACLU’s surveillance and cybersecurity counsel. Granick is well known for her work with intellectual property law, free speech, privacy law, surveillance, and other things related to computer security. Senator Ron Wyden described her as an “NBA all-star of surveillance law.” Granick fights for civil liberties in an age of ubiquitous surveillance and unaccountable digital monopolies. She took that fight to the courtroom against the heartless scapegoating of internet activist, Aaron Swartz, and educated the public with such books as American Spies: Modern Surveillance, Why You Should Care, and What to Do About It. To many Americans, these topics seem arcane and academic. But, legally and socially, the choices we make on these issues will determine whether democracy will survive the digital age. Granick has a gift for making these choices easy to grasp. Now more than ever, we need to hear her lucid voice.
New College of Florida
Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 700 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.