Obama: Year One

Guest lecture by Professor Ruth O'Brien followed by panel debate

Onsdag, 18 november, 2009 (All day)

Guest lecture and panel debate at the Center for the Study of the Americas

The Obama presidency – one year later

One year ago, Barack Obama won a sweeping victory in the U.S. presidential election, with promises of “change you can believe in.” Has he and his administration delivered so far? How has the American political landscape changed in that year? What is the nature of the opposition to his political agenda? What has his tenure in the White House revealed about his political outlook, his style of leadership, his ability to make decisions? How is he likely going to handle major challenges such as health care, climate change, financial reform, and not least the war in Afghanistan and other international conflicts in his next year in office? These are among the pertinent questions that our invited speakers and panelists will address at this event.

The Center for the Study of the Americas is honored to welcome Professor Ruth O’Brien from the City University of New York and the Center for American Progress as our keynote speaker for this event. We are also honored to introduce our visiting Fulbright Professor for 2009-2010, Stephen Amberg from University of Texas at San Antonio, and to welcome back our Adjunct Professor, Carl Pedersen.


14.30 – 15.30 Ruth O’Brien, Out of Many, We are One: Obama and the 3rd American Liberal Tradition

American political thought has been dominated by two contrasting traditions – a minimalist weak state and neo-classical capitalism, imbued with strong individual rights well reflected in President George Bush’s Ownership Society; and a relatively strong welfare state and regulatory capitalism seen most starkly in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal reform program. President Barack Obama’s campaign rhetoric represents a departure from either tradition. Obama’s political vision composes a third lesser known, and yet harder traveled tradition of small “d” democratic progressivism or populism. Obama’s vision constitutes not just a departure in thought, but it occurred in part given the electoral vacuum created by the hollow Democratic/Republican party’s agendas in combination with the collapse of the economy. This talk suggests that locating Obama’s vision in historic context helps us better understand not only his administration’s accomplishment’s but as well as his failures. It reviews five aspects that make the character of Obama’s thought part of this third American tradition that echoes the Three Musketeers cry: “out of many we are one.”

Discussant: Carl Pedersen, Adjunct professor at CBS

15.45 – 17.15 Panel debate: The Obama administration’s first year in office: “Change you can believe in”?


Ruth O’Brien is Professor at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, (Political Science & American Studies) as well as Adjunct Affiliated Scholar for the Center for American Progress and Book series editor of Princeton University Press-- the Public Square, which showcases public intellectuals on politics; Her most recent publications include the edited volume Telling Stories Out of Court: Narratives about Women and Workplace Discrimination (Cornell university press). She is the author of Bodies in Revolt: Gender, Disability, and a Workplace Ethic of Care (Routledge Press); Voices from the Edge: Narratives about the Americans with Disabilities Act (Oxford University Press); Crippled Justice: The History of Modern Disability Policy in the Workplace (University of Chicago Press); Workers’ Paradox: The Republican Origins of the New Deal Labor Policy, 1886-1935 (University of North Carolina Press), as well as numerous articles.

Stephen Amberg is Associate Professor, University of Texas at San Antonio and visiting Fulbright Chair in American Studies at the Center for the Study of the Americas for 2009-2010. Stephen Amberg’s primary research areas are the political development of U.S. economic policies, the adjustments of welfare states to globalization, and institutional design and learning processes in politics. He is currently writing about the bailout of the American automobile industry.

Carl Pedersen is Adjunct Professor at the Center for the Study of the Americas, CBS. Carl Pedersen's research ranges widely, from African-American studies to US history, politics and society and Caribbean history. His most recent publications are Det andet USA (Copenhagen, 2008) and Obama's America (Edinburgh, 2009).

Edward Ashbee is Associate Professor at the International Center for Business and Politics and the Center of the Study of the Americas, CBS. He has written extensively about US politics and society. His publications include studies of elections, court rulings, and George W. Bush's presidency. More recently, his work has concentrated on political economy and economic policymaking in both the US and Britain. His next book, The US Economy Today, will be published by Manchester University Press in 2010.

Niels Bjerre-Poulsen is Associate Professor at CBS and Director of the Center for the Study of the Americas. His primary fields of research are American political culture, US history and foreign policy, and the development of the American presidency in particular. He is currently co-writing a book on the international history of the Vietnam War.

All are welcome. No registration.


Sidst opdateret: Communications // 13/02/2011