Welcome to The Scholars’ Circle

Producers: Maria Armoudian (host), Doug Becker (host), Ankine Aghassian & Melissa Chiprin
contact us : host (at) scholarscircle.org

The Scholars’ Circle is a weekly production. Our library contains interviews from 2011 to present.

Below are our 10 most recent recordings.



Scholars’ Circle – Puerto Rico considers statehood or independence ; Peru Riots challenge removal of democratically elected president – January 22, 2023

The island of Puerto Rico has a complex relationship with the federal government in the United States. Should it seek statehood or independence? Or is the status quo the best option for the nation.  [ dur: 30mins. ]

Then, Peru has faced ongoing protests and violence since the removal of its president at the hands of the Congress. What socioeconomic divisions in the nation have lead to this deepened political crisis? [ dur: 28mins. ]

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Melissa Chiprin and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Dr. Martin Luther King Legacy and its effect on contemporary civil rights movement- January 15, 2023

To commemorate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. we discuss Dr King’s life, his work, his legacy and his memory. We then explore the impact of Dr King and his memory on contemporary issues, including the role of women on the movement and the security of people of color as embodied in the Black Lives Matter movement. What is the meaning of Dr King’s dream today? [ dur: 58mins. ]

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Melissa Chiprin and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Book analysis – A Promise Kept: The Muscogee (Creek) Nation and McGirt vs. Oklahoma – January 8, 2023

In 2020, the Supreme Court surprised many observers by holding up the rights of the Muscogee (Creek) nation. In McGirt v Oklahoma, the Court held that the Creek Nation retained its sovereign rights over a very large part of Eastern Oklahoma. The decision began with a poetic line: “At the end of the Trail of Tears is a promise.” The case raises further interest in issues of Indian law, which includes a very important case on the docket this year on the issue of the adoption of Indian children without the consent of the tribe. Robert Miller and Robbie Ethridge have written a new book on the McGirt case, on the history of the Muscogee nation’s relations with the United States, and the details of the case itself. And the title of the book references that first line of the decision. It is called A Promise Kept: The Muscogee (Creek) Nation and McGirt v Oklahoma. Our guests are the authors of the book. [ dur: 58mins. ]

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Melissa Chiprin and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Use of Software Algorithms to create Artificial Intelligence that inform institutions, why should we be wary? – January 1, 2023

Algorithms reflect the biases of the society in which they exist and the programmers who create them. There has been a social and political reaction against their use. How do algorithms govern social and political interactions? What is the most proper use of algorithms? And what are the biases that persist in their use? [ dur: 58mins. ]

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Melissa Chiprin and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Story of Christmas Truce during WWI in 1914 ; Science of Compassion, a sense of humanity – December 25, 2022

Why did soldiers on the front line ( in Flanders on 1914 ) of one of the deadliest wars lay down their arms and play soccer with the very men they were supposed to shoot? We’ll revisit the Christmas truce of 1914 with Stanley Weintraub, author of, Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce. [ dur: 23 mins. ]

Then, on the Scholars’ panel, we explore the Science of Compassion. What is it and how does it impact society? Can we learn to be compassionate? [ dur: 35mins. ]

This program was first broadcast on Dec. 2017.

This program is produced with contributions from the following volunteers: Ankine Aghassian, Melissa Chiprin, Anaïs Amin, Tim Page, Mike Hurst and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Housing First with Social Services Support to address Homelessness in America – December 18, 2022

Over a half million Americans are currently homeless. What is causing this crisis? And what are the solutions? How do we get the resources to build the housing we need to address the homelessness crisis?

We discuss why services to address mental health and addiction are essential to resolving the homelessness crisis. [ dur: 58mins. ]

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Melissa Chiprin, Mihika Chechi, and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – COP 27 Review and other Global Environmental Agenda – December 11, 2022

The world met once again on climate change, this time in Egypt. What did they agree to do, and what did they fail to do? We discuss the global environmental agenda, including biodiversity and the scourge of plastics. [ dur: 58mins. ]

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Melissa Chiprin, Mihika Chechi, and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Executive powers use and abuse of the “Deep State” – December 4, 2022

Donald Trump versus the “Deep State.” A new book examines this political struggle and the tension between the Presidency and the Administrative State. We explore the implications of this struggle with the authors of Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: Deep State and the Unitary Executive. Hosted by Doug Becker. [ dur: 58mins. ]

Book cover of Phantoms of a Beleagured Republic, image of the White House with pillars of administrative building above it

Together they are the author of Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: The Deep State and the Unitary Executive.

“This insightful new book explains how and why the Trump presidency became entangled in conflicts with administrators in both the executive branch and the U.S. Congress, while also showing how we might re-imagine presidential power, administrative independence, and our system of checks and balances.” —Oxford University Press

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Melissa Chiprin, Mihika Chechi, and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Deep Listening to Sounds of Nature; Actual History in American Thanksgiving Story – November 27, 2022

How does deep listening to nature promote biodiversity and a deeper relationship with the natural world?

Book Cover of Civil War by Other Means has an red X on the title of the book

We discuss the book THE SOUNDS OF LIFE: How Digital Technology Is Bringing Us Closer to the World of Animals and Plants. [ dur: 34mins. ]

References to clips of nature sound recordings included in the interview with Karen Bakker :

The American Thanksgiving story is one of cooperation and coexistence between white European settlers and the native peoples. But the real story is much darker.
How does this Thanksgiving narrative get the history wrong?

We discuss the history, the memory, and the meaning of Thanksgiving in the contemporary relationship between the United States and Indigenous people. [ dur: 24mins. ]

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Melissa Chiprin, Mihika Chechi, and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Financing US Political Campaigns by Super Rich ; Civil War by Other Means, unresolved politics continues today – November 20, 2022

Americans in polls consistently cite the nature of campaign financing as perhaps the greatest threat to democracy. And increasingly, candidates self-finance. In the LA Mayor’s race alone, billionaire developer Rick Caruso spent at least $100 million of his own fortune. What legal issues does this sort of financing raise? What does it mean for candidate quality? In what ways does it challenge and potentially undermine democracy? [ dur: 28 mins. ]

While the US Civil War ended slavery, it didn’t end the political issues that caused the war. What exactly happened in the immediate aftermath of the war?

Book Cover of Civil War by Other Means has an red X on the title of the book

The political divide in the US from the Civil War persists today. We discuss the history of the period and its impact on contemporary politics with the author of the new book by Jeremi Suri, Civil War by Other Means: America’s Long and Unfinished Fight For Democracy . [ dur: 30 mins. ]

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Melissa Chiprin, Mihika Chechi, and Sudd Dongre.