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Fall 2020 Speakers

book cover of Learning from my daughter by Eva Feder KittayLearning from my Daughter: The Value and Care of Disabled Minds

When: Friday, June 18, 12:00 – 2:00 pm (CST)

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Disability offers a significant challenge to long-held philosophical views of the nature of the good life, what offers meaning in our lives, the importance of care, and the centrality of reason, as well as questions of justice, dignity, and personhood. In Learning from My Daughter Eva Feder Kittay claims that living with a daughter who has multiple and significant disabilities, including cognitive disabilities, has been utterly transformative for thinking about her training, career and research as a philosopher.

Chapters will be made available before the talk.

Word cloud graphic with feminist related wordsClaiming Feminist Communities: Receptivity in Feminist Ordinary Language Philosophy

When: Friday, April 30, 12:00 – 2:00 pm (CST)

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Professor Sarah Lucas will summarize the main themes of her paper followed by participant questions and comments. 



book cover of Freedom to care: liberalism, dependency care, and culture by Asha Bhandary Freedom to Care: Liberalism, Dependency Care, and Culture


The Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership is sponsored a lecture with political philosopher and feminist ethicist Asha Bhandary from the University of Iowa. Bhandary, whose work incorporates the human need for dependency care, discussed her book, Freedom to Care: Liberalism, Dependency Care, and Culture (New York: Routledge, 2020) via Zoom April 16. Commentaries by Jennifer Nedelsky of York University and Tamara Metz from Reed College followed. 


event flyer of justice, law, politics, and the LGBTQ+ community talk with Annise Parker, Justice Charles A. Spain, and Judge Phyllis FryeJustice, Law, Politics, and the LGBTQ+ Community.

When: April 7, 5:30 – 7:00 pm.

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Who: Annise D. Parker, former Mayor of Houston and one of the first openly LGBTQ+ politicians to be elected mayor of a major US city.

Justice Charles A. Spain, Texas 14th Court of Appeals, the first openly LGBTQ+ appellate judge in Texas. 

Judge Phyllis R. Frye, Associate Judge for the City of Houston Municipal Courts, the first openly transgender person to occupy a bench in the entire United States.

Please join us for the opportunity to hear these trailblazers of the LGBTQ+ and Gender Identity Movements, both in Texas and beyond, discuss their struggles, victories, and the lessons they’ve learned in their storied careers breaking barriers.


Racial Capitalism and Its Negative Consequences

Event flyer of racial capitalism talk with keynote speaker Dr. Ruth Wilson Gilmore

The UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership at the Hobby School are co-sponsoring a discussion with Ruth Wilson Gilmore, professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences, and American Studies and the director of the Center for Place, Culture and Politics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. 


book cover of The Care Manifesto: the politics of interdependence by Andreas Chatzidakis, Jaime Hakim, Jo Litter, Catherine Rottenberg and Lynne Segal. We are in the midst of a global crisis of care. How do we get out of it?

Please join us for a Zoom webinar with the authors of the Care Manifesto: Andreas Chatzidakis, Jamie Hakim, Jo Littler, Catherine Rottenberg, and Lynne Segal. Each will provide a brief presentation followed by questions and discussion.

February 5, 12:00 (noon) – 1:30 pm (central standard time, Houston-Chicago).



Event flyer for race and mass incarceration panel discussion

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Special Committee on Race and Social Justice
and the
Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership at the Hobby School of Public Affairs 
present the 4th Race and Social Justice Panel Discussion:

Race and Mass Incarceration

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Talitha LeFlouria is the Lisa Smith Discovery Associate Professor of African and African-American Studies at the University of Virginia. She is a nationally-recognized historian and a leading expert on Black women and mass incarceration.

Keisha-Khan Y. Perry is an associate professor of Africana studies at Brown University. Dr. Perry is a feminist anthropologist and political activist. Her research focuses on urban social movements against the violence of forced displacement.

Naomi Mitchell Carrier, M.Ed. is a consummate educator, historian, performing artist and author with a background in Black music, Texas history and heritage tourism. As executive director for the Convict Leasing and Labor Project, she wrote 25 stories to memorialize the Sugar Land 95. Carrier’s research has resulted in two pieces of legislation.

James Forman Jr. is J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Professor Forman teaches and writes in the areas of criminal procedure and criminal law policy, constitutional law, juvenile justice, and education law and policy. His particular interests are schools, prisons and police, and those institutions’ race and class dimensions.


Think and Do Lunch #3: Medicaid Expansion in Texas

headshot of Dr. Laura Guerra-CardusDr. Laura Guerra-Cardus

A Virtual Conversation with Dr. Laura Guerra-Cardus, Deputy Director for the Texas office of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Thursday, November 19, 12:00 (noon) – 12:50 pm.

Zoom Replay

Dr. Laura Guerra-Cardus serves as Deputy Director for the Texas office of the Children’s Defense Fund.

She leads CDF’s policy initiatives – including the #SickOfItTX grassroots campaign for healthcare coverage – and is a leading member of the Cover Texas Now and Children’s Healthcare Coverage coalitions which work with statewide partners to ensure that all Texas children have access to affordable, comprehensive health care coverage. Since 2008 the Coalitions have connected over a million additional children with health coverage. As part of her work, Laura oversees CDF-Texas work in a variety of policy issues including the wellbeing of immigrant children. In 2009, 2010 and 2014 Laura served as CDF-Texas’ Interim Director.

Laura is a graduate of Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. After graduating from medical school, Laura served as a Fellow in the Coro Fellowship Program in Public Affairs – St. Louis. In 2013, Laura was awarded Rumbo’s Mujeres Destacadas award for her public service.​

Medicaid Expansion Think Do Resource Page.

*This event is sponsored by the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center at the Hobby School of Public Affairs and the Center for Civic and Public Policy Improvement.

headshot of Kara SwisherKara Swisher

A Virtual Conversation with NYTimes Contributing Opinion Writer and host of Sway, Kara Swisher.

Moderators: Dean Kirk Watson, Hobby School of Public Affairs

                   Emily Ramshaw, Co-founder and CEO, the 19th.

Title: “WHAT NOW? Politics and Tech in the Wake of the 2020 Election.”
Location: Online Live Stream
Date of Event: Thursday November 12 at 4:00 – 5:15 pm. 

Watch the conversation. 

The Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership at the Hobby School of Public Affairs presents:

Virtual Faculty Seminar Series

headshot or Tamler SommersTamler Sommers,

“The Road to Restorative Justice.”

November 6, 2020: 3:00 – 5:00 pm with virtual happy hour afterwards.

Professor Sommers will give a brief talk followed by lively participant discussion.


headshot of Joan TrontoJoan Tronto

October 16 | 3 PM

Beyond Wealth-Care: Pandemic Dreams for a Just and Caring Future

The pandemic has opened our eyes for a moment to the “essential” nature of care and care-workers. It has also exposed the realities of the vast inadequacy of care in the United States: that existing care infrastructures are barely worthy of the name, that care workers suffer economic penalties for doing the work that they do and try to do, that caring exacerbates inequalities of class, race, and gender, and that those who give and receive care locally and globally and trans-nationally are treated inadequately.  During this pandemic, the depth of ongoing racial injustice also became apparent. Yet when the virus is finally controlled, will any of these insights remain or will they all be forgotten?  Can the pandemic have a transformative effect or will our collective insights be lost?

This paper argues that using care ethics as the moral and political framework allows us to see what is wrong with “wealth care” and how a more caring democracy can go beyond hand-wringing to addressing injustice in itself.

Joan C Tronto is professor emerita of political science at the University of Minnesota and the City University of New York.  A graduate of Oberlin College, she received her PhD from Princeton University.  She is the author of Moral Boundaries: A Political Argument for an Ethic of Care (1993) and Caring Democracy: Markets, Equality and Justice (2013), and Who Cares? How to Reshape a Democratic Politics (2015) and over fifty articles about care ethics. Her work has been translated into many languages, including French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Japanese, and Korean.  In 2015, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University for Humanistic Studies in the Netherlands and won the Brown Prize for Democracy.  She has served as a Fulbright Fellow in Bologna, Italy in 2007.   She currently resides in New York City.


Navigating Media Literacy in 2020 & Beyond

Oct. 8 | Noon


event flyer of Housing: confronting disparities, creating equity with Chrishelle Palay

Think and Do Lunch Series

Topic 2: Housing - Confronting Disparities, Creating Equity

Chrishelle Palay, HOME Coalition

October 2, 2020


Chrishelle Palay will discuss housing insecurity and how to increase housing equity and access in the Greater Houston area. Zoom participants will then have an opportunity to discuss these issues in virtual breakout rooms.

The Think and Do series is a virtual experiment in democracy where we bring together Houston area residents to learn and talk about important issues in our city, state, and country.

Housing Equity Resource Page

This event is sponsored by the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center at the Hobby School of Public Affairs and the Center for Civic and Public Policy Improvement.

event flyer for voter rights, accessibility, and suppression in Harris County with speaker Raven Douglas

Think and Do Lunch Series

Topic 1: Voter Rights, Accessibility, and Suppression in Harris County

Raven Douglas, Move Texas

September 25, 2020


Raven Douglas will briefly discuss in an interview format the current status of voting in Harris County and accessibility and obstacles to voting. Zoom participants will then have an opportunity to discuss these issues among themselves in randomly assigned virtual breakout rooms. The session will end with participants coming back together to ask Ms. Douglas questions and information about further resources.

The Think and Do series is a virtual experiment in democracy where we bring together Houston area residents to learn and talk about important issues in our city, state, and country.

Voter Engagement Resource Page

This event is sponsored by the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center at the Hobby School of Public Affairs and the Center for Civic and Public Policy Improvement.


event flyer for speaker Benjamin Talton  Benjamin Talton, Temple University

September 21, 2020

5:30 - 7:00 PM via Zoom

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Professor Benjamin Talton is an Associate Professor of African history. His research, writing, and teaching focus on politics and culture in modern Africa and the African Diaspora. Professor Talton has formerly been a Visiting Senior Lecturer and Scholar-in-Residence at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana.

Professor Talton’s publications include three books: The Politics of Social Change in Ghana: The Konkomba Struggle for Political Equality (Palgrave, 2010) and Black Subjects in Africa and its Diasporas: Race and Gender in Research and Writing, with Dr. Quincy Mills—Vassar College—(Palgrave, 2011), and, most recently, In This Land of Plenty: Mickey Leland and Africa in American Politics (UPenn Press, 2019). He is currently an editor of African Studies Review, an interdisciplinary, peer-review journal.


event flyer for race and leadership with speaker Dr. Colette Pierce BurnetteDr. Colette Pierce Burnette, President, Huston-Tillotson 

August 31, 2020

5:30 - 6:30 PM via Zoom

Dr. Burnette, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, joined Huston-Tillotson University as president on July 1, 2015.  She is the first female president of the combined institutions of Huston and Tillotson Colleges.  She served as interim President at Pierce College in Puyallup, Washington, the Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer, Executive Assistant to the President, Vice President for Information Technology and Services and Chief Information Officer at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, Dean of Information Technology at Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington, and Manager of Consulting and Project Management Services at the Washington State Department of Transportation in Olympia, Washington. Colette has combined her IQ, EQ, entrepreneurial spirit and technical knowledge to forge successful careers in engineering, information technology and higher education.   Before transitioning into higher education, Dr. Burnette worked as a Computer Analyst at The Washington Post, an Operations Support Engineer at Proctor and Gamble, Director of Information Systems at Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp., and ran her own computer consulting firm, CompuMent.

Dr. Burnette is a strong proponent of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and civic and community engagement.  She currently holds leadership positions in her community as co-chair of the Mayor of Austin’s Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities, Board Chair of Leadership Austin, and Treasurer of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas. 

Colette is married to retired Lieutenant Colonel Daarel Burnette and they have two adult children (Daarel II of Washington, DC and Daana of Los Angeles, CA).