Weissberg Forum for Discourse in the Public Square
Through the generosity of Trustee Nina Weissberg, New York University had established the Weissberg Forum for Discourse in the Public Square at its Constance Milstein and Family Global Academic Center in Washington, D.C. The Center provides study away and internship experiences for NYU students, as well as rich academic and cocurricular programming. The Weissberg Forum was an annual signature event that brought together distinguished figures from government, industry, the professions, and the academy to discuss complex and timely issues from a variety of perspectives. The Forum framed and conducted dialogues around issues that provoked differing views and even controversy. The aim was to provide a forum for such issues to be debated in an informed, rigorous, and civil manner -- , the kind of dialogue that academic institutions are intended to promote. Previous Weissberg Forum events addressed gender, immigration, and healthcare.
What reforms are necessary to make our communities safe while treating all people fairly? How can we make the system more cost-effective? And what can be done to commute unfair sentencing and overturn mandatory minimum laws that remain in effect throughout the country?
The 5th Annual Weissberg Forum for Discourse in the Public Square focused on criminal justice reform.
The United States has less than five percent of the world’s total population yet almost 25 percent of the world's total prison population. Ever since President Richard M. Nixon declared a war on drugs in 1971, the U.S. prison population has increased by 408 percent. One in 35 adults in this country are under some form of correctional control, which includes jails, prisons, parole and probation. The last year has seen an increasing debate over incarceration numbers, questions as to whether current policies and politics unfairly target minorities, contribute to rising costs, and whether sufficient support is accessible for rehabilitation and reentry of the population into American society.
Big Data: Exploring the Tension Between Utility and Privacy in Law, Commerce, Medicine, and National Security
This spring, the 4th Annual Weissberg Forum for Discourse in the Public Square will focus on “Big Data”. With a growing capacity to collect and analyze vast amounts of information and data about all aspects of our lives the questions arise: to what end? And with what safeguards? The potential is there for using data to better understand and design everything from traffic patterns to approaches to disease to to forecasting weather to improving safety to regulating markets to detecting structural flaws. But with personal data so easily and readily collected, issues of privacy and confidentiality come to the fore. The Weissberg Forum will explore this tension between utility and privacy from a variety of perspectives – legal, commercial, medical, and national security.
Leading Policymakers, Professionals and Providers Debate the New Geography Shaping Health in America.
Despite spending more money on health care than any other nation, the US performs poorly on a number of population health indices, in part because it under-invests in public health efforts such as disease prevention programs.
Major transitions are underway however, with hospitals shifting from in-patient volume to an emphasis on the value of services they provide, insurers supporting trends away from acute care delivery to community-based care and prevention, and informed consumers playing a more central role.
Health reform in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) recognizes the importance of public health services that are often ‘hidden’ from the public, less visible than hospitals or the latest technology or medication. Examples include some key preventive services that have no out-of-pocket expenditures and the Prevention and Public Health Fund established by the ACA.
This event explored the drivers of these tectonic shifts, how they affect public health, and the best way to get what our dollars should buy: a healthier population, instead of one that ranks 17 among high income countries for life expectancy at birth. What is at stake as we implement reforms? How do we ensure we get it right and what are the consequences of getting it wrong? What role does compromise among those with disparate perspectives and rigorous evaluation of outcomes play in increasing our chance of success?
Experts Discuss Policy, Programs, and Research Focused on Combating Gender Disparities
Around the world, low income young men are at risk of dropping out of school and at higher risk of multiple forms of violence (including homicide). In Brazil, low income young men of African descent make up the majority of the 40,000 homicide victims every year. In the US and the Caribbean, young men of color are overrepresented in school drop-out and in prison. In such settings, given the lack of opportunities and historical injustices, young men sometimes gravitate toward versions of manhood associated with gang-related violence, and sexual conquest; as many as a third of young men in such settings have no or little contact with their biological fathers. Hyper-masculine cultures reinforced in such settings create vulnerabilities for women, girls, boys and men. What policy and program approaches work in such settings? How can we see young men as diverse, as allies in gender and social justice, rather than as threats? What does emerging research tell us about how to achieve change? And how does such work connect to or dialogue with efforts to promote the empowerment of adolescent girls? This event included the premiere of the PBS-To the Contrary documentary “Becoming Papa,” which follows the stories of men in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, followed by a discussion from leading researchers and voices in the field.
For decades, immigration policy in the United States has been a paradigm of political debate, with policy makers and the American public unable to find consensus. With a system that everyone agrees is broken, the nation is on the verge of reform.
11 million undocumented people live in the United States. 4.3 million people are on the wait list for family-based visas and 113,058 waiting for employment-based visas — nearly 4.5 million in the overall backlog. Universities, like NYU, and employers are unable to retain talented young students after receiving advanced degrees in the vital STEM fields. And, immigration enforcement agencies are in overdrive, having doubled since 2004, with the greatest influx of agents in U.S. history.
As part of New York University’s Weissberg Forum for Discourse in the Public Square, NYU’s Scholar in Residence, Vice President for Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, Angela Maria Kelley hosted two forums that examined current reform measures and how policy choices have and will affect the immigrant population.
These forums considered how U.S. immigration policies change the lives of young immigrants (both documented and undocumented) with regard to access to education, healthcare, and employment as well as the consequences of immigration policies for the criminalization and incarceration of a vulnerable population. The forums provided an overview of the work of dedicated individuals, policymakers and organizations.