The Lampert Institute Reimagined: Bringing the Liberal Arts Into the World

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The Lampert Institute for Civic and Global Affairs combines on-campus programming with research opportunities for faculty and students to “make the liberal arts real.” Since its founding in 2014, it has hosted an annual themed speaker series and funded more than 100 student and faculty trips to complete research projects around the world.

In 2018, the institute paused its efforts and began a conversation with namesake Ed Lampert ’62 on ways to revamp the program and make it even more relevant. After two years of careful planning, Lampert, Associate Professor of Political Science and Lampert Institute Director Illan Nam, Associate Dean of the Faculty Martin Wong, Provost and Dean of the Faculty Tracey Hucks, and President Brian Casey unveiled a reimagined Lampert Institute that boasts new areas of inquiry to guide research and course design and an expanded summer research program.

“The relaunch is aimed at sharpening the institute’s areas of intellectual interest,” Nam said. “Broadly speaking, the institute aims to engage Colgate students and faculty in serious and significant policy issues that have durable effects upon the world in which we live.”

The institute’s areas of inquiry will tackle 21st-century challenges using a twofold approach: focusing on the policy consequences of transformative discoveries in science and technology, and exploring the implications of policies in countries that are changing the world order. With a clearer intellectual identity, the institute will now be guided by research questions that are pertinent to students’ lives.

“How does China’s economic and political ascendance affect politics, corporations, and workers in different regions of the world? What are the consequences of global trade integration? What effects will automation have upon economies around the world? We believe these types of questions deal with policy challenges that will shape students’ lives, and we hope the institute will provide opportunities for students to think about and engage with them,” Nam said.

Further, the institute’s opportunities will be broken into four categories: The Lampert’s Scholars program will provide 10–12 students with academic opportunities, community, and mentorship. The Lampert Prize will recognize one senior Lampert Scholar whose academic work and research best exemplify the program’s goals. On-campus programs will expose the student body to policy experts. Faculty research funding will support publication, workshops, national conferences, and research projects that allow faculty to study policy issues more thoroughly. 

While the previous generations of Lampert Scholars completed independent summer research projects, the new research component will be more structured, allowing students to complete their research alongside policy-oriented internships. With both research and hands-on experience under their belts, scholars will return to campus, prepared to tackle a senior seminar built around the policy questions they investigated over the summer — and, for some of them, subsequent careers in public policy. 

The new programming has already begun proving its relevance. New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker visited campus via Zoom in early September to discuss public health policy as it relates to COVID-19. With future talks delving into the geopolitics of cyber security and prospering with fewer resources in the machine age, students and faculty attending lectures on their laptops are already finding that the topics truly speak to the most pressing issues of our time.

Fall 2020 Lampert Institute Events

Howard Zucker, New York State Health Commissioner

COVID-19 in New York State and the Policy Response
September 10, 2020

Sarah Binder, Senior Fellow in Governance Studies, Brookings Institution

The Myth of Independence: How Congress Governs the Federal Reserve
October 1, 2020

Andrew McAfee, Co-Founder of MIT's Initiative on the Digital Economy

“More from Less”
October 22, 2020

Adam Segal, Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program, Council of Foreign Relations

The United States, China, and the Battle for Cyberspace
November 10

William Sibold, Executive Vice President, Sanofi

December (date to be determined)