June 27, 2007, 12:00 - 2:00 PM - Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C. Headquarters
Transcript Now Available - Click Here! (PDF format, 26 pages, 1.71 MB)
A complete, edited transcript is now available of our June 27 book discussion of
Program and Panel
Registration, lunch buffet
Welcome by Hudson Institute's WILLIAM SCHAMBRA
ALICE O'CONNOR, University of California, Santa Barbara
Now precisely a century old, the Russell Sage Foundation heralded the rise of a new philanthropic idea: One could create knowledge aimed at “social betterment” using rational, scientific inquiry. Yet "rational" and "scientific" did not yet mean "value-free," and researchers for the early foundation "were willing both to ask probing questions and to be explicit about the values and principles and the more directive reform purposes that motivated their research,” points out historian Alice O’Connor in Social Science for What? Philanthropy and the Social Question in a World Turned Rightside Up, a book published for the foundation’s centennial. O'Connor goes on to describe how these early intentions in philanthropy faded into the "value-neutral" social science approaches of the 1930s and beyond, which left them ultimately unable to fend off the rise of values-laden modern conservatism. Liberal foundations have yet to adapt. “Having won the battle of ideas what, [James] Piereson wondered, would be the future for conservative philanthropy? It is a question, as I have argued, that liberal foundations might well turn toward themselves,” O’Connor writes.
On June 27, 2007, Hudson Institute's Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal hosted a panel of experts including Alice O'Connor, James Piereson of the William E. Simon Foundation, Georgetown University's James Allen Smith, and Hudson Institute Adjunct Fellow Joel Schwartzto discuss the role of knowledge and the place of social science in philanthropy, and how these are reflected within today's foundations, both liberal and conservative. The Bradley Center's William Schambra served as the discussion's moderator.
As Bill Schambra explained it in his introduction of the panel, progressive social science at the time of Sage's founding "promised to produce an objective and data-laden analysis of the growing tensions between capitalism and labor, which would then give rise to fundamental structural reforms in service of a transcendent public interest." But seventy years later, a much different understanding of poverty and society would come to the fore – that is, poverty as the result of poor personal choices. Why did this happen?
Please see the full transcript for an account of the proceedings. Questions from the audience came from Martin Morse Wooster; Jack Meyer; Rachel Davison, a Koch Summer Fellow; and Edward Roeder.
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