Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of American Constitutionalism

Posted By:  Liz Goodrich
Date Posted:  9/6/2013

ConstitutionDeschutes Public Library remains a leader in offering programs that encourage civic engagement and the opportunity to discuss difficult or sensitive topics. This fall DPL continues to lead the way with “Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of American Constitutionalism,” a five part series of reading and discussions led by author, constitutional scholar and OSU-Cascades Professor James Foster. During the series, participants will explore how American constitutionalism, the activity by which we bring to life the principals of the Constitution, has shaped us and vice versa.

Foster maintains that “Our constitution is a verb—not a noun. It is what we the people make of it.”  The series explores the nature and three illustrative aspects of American constitutionalism. Following the introductory session, the content of the readings and discussions become focused on three issues that highlight the dynamic nature of the Constitution. Participants will explore how guns, God, and gender have played out in our highest court. Series participants will be issued four books from which readings will be assigned. Each session will open with a brief explanation of the readings by Professor Foster. Following the introduction participants will engage in small group discussions of issues raised by assigned readings. Foster believes that “civil discussion of hot-button issues” is an essential part of being citizens of our body politic and that “interaction with a variety of ideas and opinions” is critical to our understanding of what American constitutionalism is.

Foster specializes in constitutional law. He earned his BA in Political Science from Lewis and Clark College, his Masters in Political Philosophy from UCLA and his Ph.D. in Public Law and Judicial Politics from the University of Washington. He has been widely published in a variety of legal journals, reviews and books. Foster regularly teaches classes on constitutional law, judicial politics, and gender and law. His book, Bong Hits 4 Jesus: A Perfect Constitutional Storm in Alaska’s Capital, published by the University of Alaska Press, explores free speech issues.  Foster says participants in the series can look forward to “engaging conversations about important matters with thoughtful people.”

Kick off for the series is October 6, 2013 at 2:00 pm with an overview of the series and keynote address from Harvard Law Professor and renowned constitutional scholar Mark Tushnet (via Skype). The series is limited to 15 participants but the public is invited to attend the kick off.

All discussions will be held in the Brooks Room of the Downtown Bend Public Library. The series discussion topics and dates are:

For details about the series or to register, please visit or contact Liz Goodrich at 541/312-1032. People with disabilities needing accommodations (alternative formats, seating or auxiliary aides) should contact Liz at 312-1032.

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