The annual Hibbert R. Roberts Lecture in Public Policy was established to honor Dr. Roberts, the chair of the Department of Political Science for 22 years (1969–1992), whose vision still shapes the department today.
Dr. Mary Anne Franks, Professor of Law, University of Miami, delivered the 2018 Hibbert R. Roberts Lecture in Public Policy on September 18 at Illinois State University. The title of her talk was “The Cult of Internet.”
Professor Franks pointed out that contemporary society is in thrall to Internet worship but the "free" rhetoric of the Internet - free speech, free markets, free services - masks the high costs of a corporatized technocracy. The fundamentalist attachment to the Internet justifies and perpetuates a system in which privileged groups systematically shift the costs of reckless and destructive conduct to vulnerable groups. While the Internet’s capacity to transform human interaction has revolutionary potential, it has more often worsened existing forms of exploitation. By destabilizing distinctions between speech and conduct, encouraging impulsive and irrational habits, Professor Franks argued, the Internet has facilitated new forms of discrimination, misinformation, and extremism. More than 200 students, community members, staff and faculty attended the event. A lively Q&A session was followed by her presentation.
The Hibbert R. Roberts Lecture in Public Policy was established to honor Dr. Hibbert R. Roberts who was chair of the Department of Political Science for 22 years from 1969 to 1992. In his opening remarks, Dr. T.Y. Wang, Chair of the Department, stated that Dr. Roberts’ long service is a testimony of his dedication to this department and Illinois State University. The annual lecture is to honor Dr. Roberts and express our gratitude to him. The event is sponsored by Illinois State’s Department of Politics and Government, the Provost’s Office and the Sage Foundation and was free and open to the public.
Dr. Franks holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School as well as doctorate and master’s degrees from Oxford University, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar. Dr. Franks was previously a Bigelow Fellow and Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School and taught social studies and philosophy at Harvard University. She teaches First and Second Amendment law, cyber law, criminal law and procedure, and family law. She is also the President and Legislative & Tech Policy Director of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a nonprofit organization that seeks to harness the power of law, policy, and technology to protect equal rights.
She is the author of the forthcoming book The Cult of the Constitution: Guns, Speech, and the Internet (Stanford University Press 2019). Her legal scholarship has been published in the Harvard Law Review, the California Law Review, and the UCLA Law Review. among others. She has also authored numerous articles for the popular press, including the Atlantic, the Guardian, and TIME Magazine.
Professor Christopher Achen delivered the Hibbert Roberts Lecture entitled “Identities and Trump Ideologies: The 2016 Presidential Election” on November 1st, 2017. Professor Achen’s lecture addressed the question of how Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. Achen explained that while considerable attention has been given to the appeal of the issues of his campaign and to the stagnant incomes of white people without a college degree, those factors turn out to be much less consequential than most media reports have suggested. Achen explained that deeper and broader forces were at work in the election, and his lecture set them out with evidence from the voter surveys done at the time. The lecture concluded with a discussion of how Trump’s election demonstrates that democracy does not work in the way we usually imagine.
In addition to this public lecture, Professor Achen also presented a lunch talk titled “Age, not Social Class: Turnout Dropoff in the U.S. and Taiwan” to faculty and graduate students in the department on November 1st. He also met with the American Politics faculty in the department.
Achen is a professor in the Politics Department at Princeton University, where he holds the Roger Williams Straus Chair of Social Sciences. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1995. Professor Achen has served on the top social science board at the National Science Foundation, and he was the chair of the national Council for the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) from 2013-2015, which is the global leading institution in advancing social and behavioral research. His primary research interests are public opinion, elections, and the realities of democratic politics, along with the statistical challenges that arise from those fields. He is the author, coauthor, or co-editor of six books, including Democracy for Realists (with Larry Bartels), published by Princeton University Press in 2016, and The Taiwan Voter (with T.Y. Wang), published by the University of Michigan Press in 2017.