An overview of Tocqueville and Potenziani Programs’ plans for the semester

Every semester the University’s Tocqueville Program for Inquiry Into Religion and Public Life and Potenziani Program in Constitutional Studies bring influential figures in politics and academia to campus. Over the last year, the programs have brought well-known individuals such as David French, Yuval Levin, and Ryan Anderson to debate and discuss the ‘hot-button’ issues of our time. Here’s a preview of the events scheduled for Spring Semester 2017.

This past Wednesday, Justice Clint Bolick presented on the benefits of school choice in America. Justice Bolick co-founded the Institute of Justice in 1991, was the first president of the Alliance for School Choice, and the Vice President of Litigation at the Goldwater Institute, before being appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court in 2016. In 2003 Justice Bolick published Voucher Wars: Waging the Legal Battle Over School Choice. As a career-long advocate and leader of the School Choice movement and a successful litigator at the Institute for Justice and the Alliance for School Choice, Justice Bolick offered a unique perspective on the contentious issue of the future of education in America.

At 12:15 p.m. on Friday, February 3, the Oak Room at South Dining Hall will serve as the venue for a panel discussion featuring Rogers Smith, Tim Roemer, and Dianne Pinderhughes entitled “The Future of Liberalism in the Age of Trump.” Rogers Smith is a Professor of Political Science and the Associate Dean of Social Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. He will be joined by Tim Roemer, a “Double Domer,” former Indiana Congressman, and former ambassador to India; and Dianne Pinderhughes, Chair of the African Studies department and Professor of Political Science at Notre Dame.

On March 28 at 12:15 p.m. in the Oak Room, Charles Murray will present his book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010. Charles Murray is a libertarian political scientist, sociologist, and writer. His most well known books include: Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950–1980; The Bell Curve; and In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government. Murray is a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, receiving their highest honor, the Irving Kristol Award, in 2009 and a W.H. Bradley Scholar. Murray’s Book, Coming Apart, examines what he sees as the extreme divergence of the American classes, and uses white America to demonstrate that the trend of divergence spans all races and ethnicities.

Finally, on April 6 at 12:15 p.m. in the Oak Room, Rusty Reno and Peter Casarella will debate on perhaps the most divisive issue in America today at an event entitled, “Immigration and Catholic Social Thought: A Conversation.” Reno is the Editor of First Things magazine, America’s most influential journal of religion and public life. Casarella is an Associate Professor of Theology at Notre Dame and Director of Latin American/North American Church Concerns. This timely conversation comes in the wake of recent executive orders on immigration issued by the Trump administration and will serve as an outlet for conversation on the controversial topic.

Look for these and other events hosted by the Tocqueville Program and Potenziani Program in Constitutional Studies over the next few months. Members of the Notre Dame community as well as members of the public are invited to engage in the conversations that the above mentioned scholars and leaders will undoubtedly initiate over the course of the semester.

Keenan is a sophomore Political Science and History major with a minor in Constitutional Studies. She is notably named after Keenan Hall. Contact her at