Honors Symposium: History of the 2nd Amendment with Dr. Cornell

The packed room of Honors students present for the final Symposium, facilitated by Dr. Saul Cornell

Dr. Saul Cornell is a prolific scholar with an impressive academic pedigree. Currently, he has an endowed Chair in American History at Fordham University and previously worked as a professor in history at Ohio State University and was the director of the Second Amendment Research Center at the John Glenn Institute. It was a great honor to have Dr. Cornell speak for our final symposium of the semester: “The History of the 2nd Amendment.” As a scholar with significant expertise on the wording, historical context, and public impressions of the 2nd Amendment, he had a unique and dynamic understanding of the way that this famous element of our Bill of Rights was meant to be perceived. He was able to present a new interpretation of the current political climate regarding gun legislation: both liberal and conservative stances misunderstand the 2nd Amendment’s few, short phrases. In reality, the 2nd Amendment is a simple commentary on the regulation of militias, a concept foreign to many of the loudest voices in this debate. Dr. Cornell also discussed the jurisprudence surrounding gun laws in the United States, and how much of this ties back to race relations in the United States.

Coffee Conversation- Alisha Menzies

Dr. Menzies laughing with the bright and involved Honors students in attendance (November 12th)

Dr. Alisha Menzies, assistant professor in Communication, championed a fascinating discussion on the burden of moral culpability faced by the famous few. She asked: “Should we hold what celebrities and public figures say to a higher moral standard? Are their communication mistakes worth more?”  The conversation spanned a great distance, first attempting to define which celebrities had a greater obligation than others. One student wondered whether professional athletes should have opinions of the same weight as political figureheads; another scholar questioned the impact of words versus actions (i.e. the Colin Kaepernick protest). Dr. Menzies funneled the discussion through various relevant scandals, from the Valium-induced tweets of Roseanne Barr to Megyn Kelly’s blackface scandal. Unfortunately, time was called before we could shift focus to unpacking rapper Kanye West! Overall, it was an intriguing look into the standards we hold celebrities to and, in turn, the standards we hold ourselves to. 

Coffee Conversation – David Stern

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On October 16th, UT’s Provost, Dr. David Stern, led a Coffee Conversation with Honors Program students in the Honors dorm. The conversation was focused around the following question, “What do nationalism, populism, authoritarianism, sovereignty, and even illiberal democracy mean and why are they so important in understanding our contemporary world?” The conversation was wide-ranging, covering instances of populism and nationalism around the world.

Honors Symposia – Jeffry Fasick

 

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Dr. Jeffry Fasick, from UT’s Biology Department, presented an engaging symposium on Right Whales to Honors students on October 2nd. Dr. Fasick’s research on North Atlantic Right Whales focuses on determining their visual spectrum and has been used to help diminish the number of entangling events from lobster traps that threaten right whales.

Honors Symposia – Jennifer Burton

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Dr. Jennifer Burton presented to Honors students and others on September 25th. Dr. Burton’s research explores how viewers respond to advertisements. In particular, she has developed novel techniques to explore how viewers are thinking about advertising from one second to the next, which can be very helpful for companies as they develop their marketing materials.

Honors Symposia – Michael Coon

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Dr. Michael Coon, UT Professor of Economics, gave the opening symposium of the 2018-2019 academic year on September 10. Dr. Coon’s presentation focused on various US federal government immigration programs, with a particular emphasis on 287(g). The presentation detailed the many negative consequences of these programs, both insofar as they harm the immigrants themselves but also public safety and waste taxpayer money as they are generally not effective in reducing crime.