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MARCH 25 - GameChanger Ideas Festival Event with Danielle Allen

What does the Declaration of Independence mean today?

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Time & Location





An interview and discussion with Political Theorist Danielle Allen about the Declaration of Independence today. 

Danielle Allen, DR. DANIELLE ALLEN—MacArthur “Genius” Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, is a political theorist who has published broadly in democratic theory, political sociology, and the history of political thought. Inspired by her work in justice and citizenship, and troubled by the fact that so few Americans actually know what the Declaration of Independence says, Allen set out to explore the arguments of the Declaration, reading it with both adult night students and University of Chicago undergraduates in Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality. Keenly aware that the Declaration is riddled with contradictions―liberating some while subjugating slaves and Native Americans―Allen and her students nonetheless came to see that the Declaration makes a coherent and riveting argument about equality. “[A]n invaluable civics lesson” (The Washington Post), Our Declaration was awarded the Heartland Prize,  the Zócalo Book Prize, and the Society of American Historians’ Francis Parkman Prize. In Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A., “an elegiac memoir and social jeremiad” (Henry Louis Gates), Allen recounts her heroic efforts to rescue Michael Alexander Allen, her beloved baby cousin, who was arrested at fifteen for an attempted carjacking. Tried as an adult and sentenced to thirteen years, Michael served eleven, and three years later, he was dead. Hailed as a “literary miracle” (Washington Post), this fierce family memoir makes mass incarceration nothing less than a new American tragedy. She is the recipient of the 2020 John W. Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity, an award administered by the Library of Congress that recognizes work in disciplines not covered by the Nobel Prizes. Allen is also the principal investigator for the Democratic Knowledge Project, a distributed research and action lab at Harvard University, which seeks to identify, strengthen, and disseminate the bodies of knowledge, skills, and capacities that democratic citizens need in order to succeed at operating their democracy; a Chair of the Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship; past Chair of the Pulitzer Prize and Mellon Foundation Boards; a MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient; and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

Moderator Chris Cavanaugh

Chris is currently a Social Studies teacher at Bismarck High School. Prior to moving to North Dakota, he taught at Plainfield High School, Plainfield, Indiana, for 28 years.

Classes Chris has taught include US Government using the “We the People…” curriculum;  AP Government; Dual Credit US History, honors US History, APUSH and Global Studies.

He has a BA in Journalism from Indiana University, Bloomington, (1984), with a minor in History.  He received the James Madison Memorial Senior Fellow in 1994. He also has a MA in History from Butler University in Indianapolis, was the Plainfield Community Teacher of the Year, 2008  Indiana Teacher of the Year Finalist, and was awarded the 2008  American Civic Educator Teaching Award in 2006 (a national award sponsored by the Center on Congress, the Center for Civic Education, and the National Education Association).In 2018, he was selected as the American Lawyers Alliance Law Related Education Teacher of the Year, and was awarded the John J. Patrick Civic Education Award.

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HND Disclaimer and Value Statement

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this {article, book, exhibition, film, program, database, report, Web resource}, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or Humanities North Dakota.

However, in an increasingly polarized world, we at Humanities North Dakota believe that being open-minded is necessary to thinking critically and rationally.

Therefore, our programs and classes reflect our own open-mindedness in the inquiry, seeking, and acquiring of scholars to speak at our events and teach classes for our Public University.

To that end, we encourage our participants to join us in stepping outside our comfort zones and considering other perspectives and ideas by being open-minded while attending HND events featuring scholars who hold a variety of opinions, some being opposite of our own held beliefs.

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