The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Freedman Lecture Series

The Freedman Lecture series is funded by Robert Rosen ’69 and Nancy Rosen ‘70 and is named for Ms. Rosen’s parents, Max and Ruth Freedman. Initiated in 2016, the Freedman Lecture brings scholars and practitioners to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) to engage contemporary societal issues from different vantage points, leaving the audience with a richer appreciation of differing viewpoints and an example of how reasonable people can disagree without being disagreeable. Freedman lectures have tackled issues of immigration, universal basic income, and free speech.

Staying Real: The War on Truth – And How to Win It 

April 20, 2022
Amherst Room – Campus Center, 10th Floor 

Staying real

Trolls. Disinformation. Canceling. Conspiracy theories. If America's grasp on reality seems to be under attack, that's because it is. Epistemic warfare—the use of powerful psychological manipulations to divide, distract, and disorient our society—has come into its own in the 21st century as never before. In this dramatically illustrated talk, the author of The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth explains the goals and tactics of the war on truth. He shows who's behind it and how it works. Most important, he reveals the inner workings and hidden strengths of our precious Constitution of Knowledge—and how to capitalize on them to fight back.

Jonathan Rauch is one of the country’s most versatile and original writers on government, public policy, and gay marriage, among other subjects. A senior fellow of the Brookings Institution in Washington and contributing writer of The Atlantic, he is the author of eight books and many articles and has received the magazine industry’s two leading prizes — the National Magazine Award (the industry’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize) and the National Headliner Award.

Past Freedman Lectures


Climate Crisis: Transitioning Away from a Carbon-Based Economy 

April 22, 2021 

Speakers: MIT Professor Jacopo Buongiorno, Brookings Institution Fellow Samantha Gross, UMass Amherst Professor Robert Pollin of the Economics Department and Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) 

On January 27, 2021, the White House issued an Executive Order declaring a climate crisis and committing to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, placing climate change at the center of US foreign policy and national security. Yet, despite a pause during the pandemic, carbon emissions are projected to rise above their pre-COVID levels as governments attempt to jumpstart their economic recoveries in 2021. How will the US – and the world – transition from a carbon-based economy to one that is greenhouse gas emissions neutral in order to avert this crisis?

Watch the Recoding

Words Matter: Speech on Campus 

April 12, 2019 

Speakers: Lucy Dalglish, Dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland; Jeannine Bell, Richard S. Melvin Professor of Law at Indiana University Bloomington; Ryan Owens, Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin – Madison 

One of the central tensions facing colleges today is balancing free speech rights with the need for respect and inclusion in a campus community. This roundtable features three leading scholars of hate crime, the First Amendment, and law and politics as they discuss their diverse perspectives on rights and responsibilities in a campus community, with the goal of better understanding how to balance this delicate tension.  

The discussion will be moderated by Paul M. Collins, Jr., Professor of Legal Studies and Political Science and Director of Legal Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Collins is an award-winning researcher whose scholarship focuses on the role of courts in American democracy. His commentary has appeared in a host of popular media outlets, including CNN, the New York Times, National Public Radio, Time, USA Today, and The Washington Post. 

Universal Basic Income – History and Theory of a Utopian

October 16, 2017 

Speakers: Connie Razza, Seth Ackerman and Elizabeth Rhodes  

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a form of social security that has been gaining traction worldwide as a means of providing income to those unable to work and thereby reducing poverty, improving equality, increasing quality of life, and providing economic security to citizens. Proponents of UBI have theorized that putting such a system into place could potentially even eradicate poverty altogether while reducing the bureaucracy associated with current methods of social welfare assistance provision and also boosting economic growth. 

Recent advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, and related technologies challenge the notion that plentiful jobs will be available for those seeking work. Self-driving trucks, for example, could spur the elimination of hundreds of thousands or even millions of jobs, many of which will not be replaced. If many citizens are unable to find traditional work, both individuals and society will need to adapt to a new social and economic reality. How should society support those who cannot find work because technology has displaced jobs? 

In this moderated panel discussion UBI experts Connie Razza, Seth Ackerman and Elizabeth Rhodes will discuss the history of this theory and the implications of putting such a system in place. Razza is director of strategic research at the Center for Popular Democracy and co-director of policy and research at Demos, a public policy organization. Ackerman is a member of the editorial board of Jacobin, where he has published prominently on Universal Basic Income reform. Rhodes is research director for the Basic Income Project, Y Combinator Research. 

Unraveling the Immigration Narrative   

September 28, 2016 

Speakers: Jennifer Hunt and George Borjas 

Economists George Borjas of Harvard and Jennifer Hunt of Rutgers will deliver the Max and Ruth Freedman Lecture: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative on Thursday, Sept. 29 at 5 p.m. in the Bernie Dallas Room, Goodell Hall. 

Borjas will discuss main arguments from his book, “We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative.”  Hunt, who holds the James Cullen Chair in Economics, previously served as cheif economist to the U.S. Secretary of Labor. Her research on immigration has been influential in immigration reform legislation and is currently under consideration by the U.S. Congress.  Both will speak and take part in a panel. This event is part of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Social Science Matters Series: Perspectives on Migration.