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The Scholars’ Circle is hosted by Maria Armoudian. Listen & search our archive of interviews.




Below are our 10 most recent recordings.


Scholars’ Circle-Empathy-in-powerful-is-missing-/-Nuroscience-review-July 26th, 2015

A new study suggests that the powerful feel less empathy. Does it have implications for society? [ dur: 18 mins. ]

Then, on the Scholars’ Circle panel, while advances in neuroscience are making great leaps in understanding humanity, scholars and doctors disagree on what neuroscience does and does not tell us about what it means to be human. Are we our brains? Do we have free will? How far can neuroscience take us? [ dur: 40 mins. ]

  • Dr. Sally Satel is lecturer at Yale University, a resident scholar at AEI and the staff psychiatrist at a methadone clinic. She is co-author of One Nation Under Therapy: How the Helping Culture Is Eroding Self-Reliance and Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience.
  • Patricia S. Churchland is Professor Emerita of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego. In 1991, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. Her books include Brain-Wise: Studies in Neurophilosophy, Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality, and Touching a Nerve: The Self as Brain.

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Scholars’ Circle-Antibiotics-Side-Effects-/-South-China-Seas-Tension-July 19th, 2015

First, sanitation and antibiotics have saved the lives of many, but are they also the culprits behind some of modern diseases? We might have gone overboard in killing our microbes. And that may be causing some of today’s epidemics. [ dur: 21 mins. ]

  • Martin I. Blaser is Professor of Translational Medicine and Director of Human Microbiome Program at New York University. He is the author of Missing Microbes : How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues.

Then, What’s troubling the water in the South China sea? China is militarizing the South China Sea. That’s one of few concerns by many in the region about China’s territorial claim and development of a region that also has claims by the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia. [ dur: 37 mins. ]

  • Pradeep Taneja Is a lecturer at the University of Melbourne. He is the author of The European Union and China: Interests and Dilemmas.
  • Stephen Noakes is a lecturer of Chinese Politics, jointly appointed to Politics and International Relations and Asian Studies at the University of Auckland. ​He is coauthor of Support for Civil Society in China in Creating Democratic Value: Evaluating Efforts to Promote Democracy Abroad.
  • Daniel Lynch is a Professor of International Relations at the University of Southern California. He is the author of After the Propaganda State: Media, Politics, and Thought in Reformed China and Rising China andAsian Democratization: Socialization to “Global Culture” in the Political Transformations of Thailand, China, and Taiwan.​
  • Professor Leszek Buszynski is a lecturer at Australia National University. He is the author of Asia Pacific Security – Values and Identity​.​ He co-edited The South China Sea Maritime Dispute: Political, Legal and Regional Perspectives and his latest publication Negotiating with North Korea: The Six Party Talks and the Nuclear Issue.

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Scholars’ Circle- Middle East Politics-July 12th, 2015

We spend the hour trying to untangle the politics of the Middle East. What does the rise of extreme violence with shifting and sometimes conflicting loyalties mean to the region and the world? What has happened to all the gains through democratization and human rights?

  • Fred H. Lawson is a Professor and Department Head of Government at Mills College; Author of Global Security Watch – Syria, Demystifying Syria, Why Syria Goes to War: Thirty Years of Confrontation and Constructing International Relations in the Arab World
  • Laurie A. Brand, Professor of International Relations and Director of Middle East Studies, USC; Author of Official Stories: Politics and National Narratives in Egypt and Algeria and Palestinians in the Arab World: Institution Building and the Search for State
  • Hamoud Salhi, Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean, CSU Dominguez Hills. Host of SWANA Region Radio on KPFK – Los Angeles.

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Scholars’ Circle-Secret-Heroes-/-Loyalist-of-American-Revolution-/-Amending-US-Constitution-July 5th, 2015

First, Secret heroes. We look at lesser known people who have shaped the world. [ dur: 14 mins. ]

  • Paul Martin, author and jouranlist; Author of Secret Heroes: Everyday Americans Who Shaped Our World

Then, we revisit the American Revolution through the stories of the loyalist, those who fought on the side of Great Britain. We’re joined by Maya Jasanoff author of Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World. [ dur: 28 mins. ]

  • Maya Jasanoff, is Professor of History  at Harvard University. She is author of Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists and the Revolutionary War.

Finally, on the Scholars’ Circle panel, we explore the historic and current efforts to amend the constitution. [ dur: 30 mins. ]

  • John R. Vile is Dean and Professor of Political Science at Middle Tennessee State University. He is the author of, The Writing and Ratification of the U.S. Constitution: Practical Virtue in ActionEncyclopedia of Constitutional Amendments, Proposed Amendments, and Amending Issues, 1789-2005, and ReFramers: 170 Eccentric, Visionary, and Patriotic Proposals to Rewrite the U.S. Constitution.
  • Stephen M. Griffin is Professor in Constitutional Law at Tulane Law School. He is the author of, Long Wars and the Constitution and American Constitutionalism: From Theory to Politics.
  • Sanford Levinson is Professor in the Department of Government and Chair in Law at the University of Texas Law School. His numerous publications include, Constitutional FaithOur Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (and How We the People Can Correct It) and, most recently,Framed: America’s 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance.

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Scholars’ Circle-Review-of-Green-Economy-/-Police-Culture-June 28th, 2015

First, are some green solutions unhelpful for the environment or worse, do they actually harm it? Over the last few years more green solutions have emerged to address environmental crises. But our guest says some of these amount to lazy environmentalism and may have a dark side effect of camouflaging a larger problem. Heather Rogers argues that our current socio-economic system depends on pollution to maintain its own well being, if so what are the real solutions? Heather Rogers join us, she is the author of Green Gone Wrong: How Our Economy Is Undermining the Environmental Revolution. [dur: 13 mins. ]

  • Heather Rogers is a journalist and author. Her book Green Gone Wrong: How Our Economy Is Undermining the Environmental Revolution received the Editor’s Choice distinction from the New York Times Book Review, and Non-Fiction Choice from the Guardian (UK).

Then, police in the United States have shot and killed more than 500 people in the first half of 2015, according to a count by the Guardian. In fact, the police in the U.S. have killed more individuals in a matter of days than other countries do in years. Most victims are African American. Three experts join us, discussing race relations, police culture and society. [ dur: 45 mins. ]

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Scholars’ Circle-Resistance-to-Evil-/-Forgotten-Genocides-June 21st, 2015

First, we continue our conversation with preeminent psychology scholar Ervin Staub. Last week we discussed how to build peaceful societies, particularly when some groups have been traumatized by violence, war or genocide. Erwin Staub’s latest book is The Roots of Goodness and Resistance to Evil. This is part two of our discussion. You can hear part one, here: [ dur: 27 mins. ]

  • Ervin Staub is a Professor of Psychology Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Founding Director of its Ph.D. concentration in the Psychology of Peace and Violence. He is the author of The roots of goodness and resistance to evil: Inclusive caring, moral courage, altruism born of suffering, active bystandership and heroism​, Overcoming evil: Genocide, violent conflict and terrorism and The psychology of good and evil: Why children, adults and groups help and harm others.

Then, our next guests participated in a standing room only, live forum that explored the roots of violence and genocide, identifying what they had in common and what it takes to prevent and heal in their aftermath. Our panel discussed how small scale violence against a targeted group can become genocidal and what we can learn from the three forgotten genocides. [ dur: 31 mins. ]

  • Dr Tracey McIntosh is a professor of sociology at the University of Auckland. She is the co-editor of Pacific Identities and Well-being: Cross-cultural Perspectives.
  • Dr. Panayiotis Diamadis is a professor of genocide studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. He is the author of Precious and Honoured Guests of the Ottoman Government.
  • Dr. Chris Wilson is a professor of political studies and international relations at the University of Auckland. He is the author of Ethno-religious violence in Indonesia: From soil to God.

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Scholars’ Circle-Resistance-to-Evil-/-The-Systems-View-of-Life-June 14th, 2015

First, we speak with Erwin Staub about his latest book, The ​R​oots of ​G​ood​nes​s​ and ​R​e​s​ist​ance to ​Evil: Inclusive ​C​aring, ​M​oral ​C​ou​r​age, ​Altruism ​B​o​r​n of ​S​uffering, ​A​c​t​I’ve ​B​ystandership and ​H​e​r​oism. [ dur: 25 mins. ]

  • Ervin Staub is a Professor of Psychology Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Founding Director of its ​Ph.D. concentration in the Psychology of Peace and Violence.

Then, we speak with Fritjof Capra about his book The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision. He is also the author of, The Tao of Physics, The Turning Point, The Web of Life, The Hidden Connections, The Science of Leonardo, and Learning from Leonardo. This is part two of a two part interview. [ dur: 33 mins. ]

  • Fritjof Capra, physicist, system theorist, and science writer, founding director of Center of Eco-literacy in Berkley California. – Blog

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Scholars’ Circle-Water-/-Communication-Technology-Affects-State-Power-May 24th, 2015

First, how water has shaped our past and how new water challenges are shaping the future. We talk with Charles Fishman author of The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water. [ dur: 28 mins. ]

  • Charles Fishman, journalist and author of The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water

Later, on the scholars’ panel. New global developments are changing the structures and holders of power. With new technology and greater interconnectedness, states are losing power and non-state actors are gaining power. But what exactly does it mean to have power? And where exactly does power come from? [ dur: 30 mins. ]

  • Giulio M. Gallarotti, Professor of Government Studies, Wesleyan University; Author of The Power Curse: Influence and Illusion in World Politics
  • Joseph S. Nye Jr., Professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Author of The Future of Power
  • Erica Chenoweth, Professor of Government, Wesleyan University. Co-author of Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (Columbia Studies in Terrorism and Irregular Warfare)

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Scholars’ Circle-Living-off-Grid-/-Sixth-Extinction-/-Terrorism-a-Political-Violence-May 17th, 2015

First, Living Off the Grid? A look inside the movement to live with total freedom and independence. Who is doing it? How and why? We speak with Nick Rosen.[ dur: 15 mins. ]

  • Nick Rosen. author of, Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America.

Then, planet earth is facing a sixth extinction. Can humanity rescue the planet that it has imperiled? [ dur: 25mins. ]

  • Annalee Newitz is journalist and author of Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction. She is the founding editor of the science and science fiction website
  • Elizabeth Kolbert is a staff member at The New Yorker. She is the author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change, and her latest book The Sixth Extinction.

Finally, What exactly is terrorism? Where should it fall on the continuum of political violence? Prof. Dekmejian is the foremost expert of terrorism and genocide. He is the author of Spectrum of Terror. [ dur: 18mins. ]

  • Richard Dekmejian, is professor of Political Science, University of Southern California. He is author of Multicultural Societies in Conflict and Coexistence, Spectrum of Terror

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Scholars’ Circle-Unethical-Foreign-Policy-/-Celebrity-Industrial-Complex-May 10th, 2015

What drives destructive or unethical foreign policies? Some point to pathological beliefs and pursuits of exceptionalism, honor and glory. Others point to systemic flaws. What are the consequences?
​ [ Time 14:00 ]​

  • Christopher Fettweis​ is a Professor of ​ Political Science​ at​ Tulane University​. He is the author of The Pathologies of Power: Fear, Honor, Glory and Hubris in U.S. Foreign Policy​​,​ Dangerous Times? The International Politics of Great Power Peace​ and Losing Hurts Twice as Bad: The Four Stages to Moving Beyond Iraq​​.​

Then, on The Scholars’ Circle panel, what is the celebrity industrial complex? How does it impact our democracy, our culture and our society?​ [Time 43:00 ]​

  • Joshua Gamson​ ​is a Professor of ​ ​Sociology​ ​at​ the​ University​ of​ San Francisco. He is the author of The Fabulous Sylvester: The Legend, The Music, The Seventies in San Francisco​,​ Freaks Talk Back: Tabloid Talk Shows and Sexual Nonconformity​ ​and Claims to Fame: Celebrity in Contemporary America.​
  • David Gilles is a Professor in Media Psychology at the University of Winchester. He is the author of Psychology of the media​, Media psychology​ and Illusions of immortality: A psychology of fame and celebrity​​​​.​
  • David Marshall is a Professor and Chair in New Media, Communication and Cultural Studies at Deakin University, Australia. He is the au​th​​or of Celebrity and Power: Fame in Contemporary Culture, New Media Cultures and ​T​he Celebrity Culture Reader​.​

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