Dr. Harry Girvetz, Professor of Philosophy, was a major force in shaping the history of the Santa Barbara campus of the University of California. He was a leader in university affairs, a notably successful and influential teacher and an important figure in liberal causes and in Democratic party politics in the West. After taking his A.B. and M.A. degrees at Stanford University, Professor Girvetz received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from UC Berkeley in 1937, and was appointed that same year to the faculty of the then Santa Barbara State College.

From the outset, Professor Girvetz won a reputation as one of the most eloquent and effective teachers on campus. As a scholar, Professor Girvetz was an authoritative and widely known exponent of the philosophy of liberalism. Inspired by pragmatism, his ideas were first systematically expounded in From Wealth to Welfare (1950), followed later by The Evolution of Liberalism. In 1973 he published the fruits of his matured reflections on ethical theory, Beyond Right and Wrong. He contributed major entries to the Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences and to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Many of Professor Girvetz's most deeply held views about the history and significance of philosophy were embodied in the book, Science, Folklore, and Philosophy, which he edited, and in substantial part wrote.

Harry Girvetz's horizons, however, were far broader than the field of philosophy. In his early years at Santa Barbara, Professor Girvetz taught political science, sociology, and history as well as philosophy; and in his later years he was prominent in the tutorial program, offering interdisciplinary colloquia with faculty members from other departments. This breadth of intellectual interests also found expression in three anthologies: Democracy and Elitism; Literature and the Arts: The Moral Issues; and the widely-read Contemporary Moral Issues (1963). Harry Girvetz was a long-time leader in liberal Democratic party circles; he was a member of the California State Democratic Central Committee and a delegate to the party's 1956 National Convention. He served as a research secretary and as a major speech writer for Governor Edmund Brown during 1959-60. He was a leader in forming the local chapter of the Americans for Democratic Action, one of the largest chapters in the state, and he was a key participant in local community planning and in organizations seeking social reform.

Past Events

talk: Public Universities and the Future of Democracy

Harry Boyte (Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, Augsburg College)
Thursday, November 17, 2016 / 4:00 PM
McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB

In the midst of enormous external pressures to narrow or eliminate the public purposes of higher education, how can educators become agents of constructive, democratizing change, not objects, spectators, and observers of change? How can students, including first generation college students and students from immigrant, ethnic, and other backgrounds who feel like strangers in institutions where pedagogies and assessments are structured around individualist, hyper-competitive achievement norms, move from survival and protest to leadership in making change? In this talk, Harry Boyte will argue that higher education is a crucial site for democratic change making. To develop its potential requires incorporating skills and lessons of civic agency and “a different kind of politics” from broad-based, cross-partisan community organizations and related movements like the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa into both curricular and co-curricular life. We also need a future oriented time horizon, adapting such skills and lessons to prepare students for careers as citizen professionals, leaders in the democratic transformation of institutions and professions, not cogs in impersonal bureaucracies and corporations driven only by narrow bottom lines. Boyte will sketch new intellectual and practical resources for this work in the transdisciplinary field of Civic Studies. Civic Studies conceives of citizens as co-creators of a democratic way of life and it advances an epistemology of civic agency, a lived way of seeing and knowing in the world which blends “head,” “heart,” and “hand,” empirical, cultural and normative disciplines with capacities for effective action. Civic Studies is becoming a prominent presence in Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, Augsburg College in Minneapolis, and the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development. It holds annual Civic Studies Institutes in Boston and the Ukraine, and constitutes a growing network of practitioners and public intellectuals associated with The Good Society: A Journal of Civic Studies.

Harry Boyte is an architect of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship’s public work approach to civic engagement and democracy, and the creator of Public Achievement. Boyte has worked with a variety of foundations, and non-profit, educational, and citizen organizations in the United States and abroad concerned with community development, citizenship education, and civic renewal. Boyte served as a senior advisor to the National Commission on Civic Renewal and presented research findings at a Camp David seminar on the future of democracy. He is the author of nine books on citizenship, democracy, and community organizing, and his writings have appeared in more than 100 publications including the New York Times, Perspectives on Politics, Kettering Review, and the Wall Street Journal. In the 1960s, he worked for the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a field secretary with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the Civil Rights Movement. Boyte teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on organizing theory and practice at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, and is in demand as a keynote speaker with faculty, students, and professionals.

Click here to listen to a recording of Harry Boyte’s talk for the 2016-17 IHC series: Community Matters.

Sponsored by the IHC’s Community Matters series, the Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life and the IHC’s Harry Girvetz Memorial Endowment.

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2014 - 2015

screening: Occupy the Farm (2014)

Q&A with director Todd Darling
Tuesday, April 14 / 7:00 PM
UCSB Pollock Theater

Occupy the Farm captures an intense conflict in which community members employ an ingenious strategy to confront a powerful institution (UC Berkeley) in the effort to preserve public land for urban farming. From preparing the soil to police raids, from lawsuits to overflowing harvests, this film reveals a determined community responding with direct action to address major social need: healthy food and access to public land.

Sponsored by the Crossroads Fellowship initiative on “Climate Justice Futures,” the Carsey Wolf Center, the Department of Film and Media Studies, and the IHC’s Harry Girvetz Memorial Endowment.

For more information, including reservations for a free ticket, please visit: http://www.carseywolf.ucsb.edu/pollock/events/focus-social-issues-modern-cinema-occupy-farm-0

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2013 - 2014

talk: Nature of Care: The Racial Politics of American Philanthropy

Karen Ferguson (History, Simon Fraser University)
Thursday, May 1, 2014 / 4:00 PM
McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB

For over a century the largest American philanthropies, from the Rockefeller Foundation to the Gates Foundation, have promised no less than to promote the well being of all mankind. Acting on this grandiose mission, these powerful private institutions have had great influence globally and at home in areas such as education, public health, and economic development. However, the often ambiguous results and outright failures of these efforts have exposed the contradictions and conflicts inherent in a program of universal well-being, as well as the boundaries of philanthropists’ putatively limitless circle of care. At home, these limits are most apparent in the racial politics of American philanthropy.  Since the late eighteenth century, African Americans and the American “race problem” have been at the very center of American philanthropy’s domestic agenda. Yet white American philanthropy’s record in promoting black people’s well-being has been decidedly mixed. In her talk Karen Ferguson will interrogate the nature of white philanthropists’ care when it comes to addressing racial inequality in the United States. Who or what, exactly, have they cared about?

Karen Ferguson is the author of Top Down: The Ford Foundation, Black Power, and the Reinvention of Racial Liberalism. Ferguson was born in Regina, Saskatchewan and grew up in suburban Toronto. Always a city lover, she reveled in living in Montreal while pursuing an undergraduate degree at McGill University. she received a doctorate in African-American history from Duke University in North Carolina in 1996. Since 1997, she has been teaching at Simon Fraser University and enjoying living in Vancouver. In July 2007, she began a joint appointment with SFU’s Program in Urban Studies.

Sponsored by the Critical Issues in America series “The Great Society at Fifty: Democracy in America, 1964/2014,” the IHC series The Value of Care and the IHC’s Harry Girvetz Memorial Endowment.

Click here to listen to a recording of Karen Ferguson’s talk for the IHC’s The Value of Care series.

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2012 - 2013

talk: Tales from the Front Lines: Reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan

Dexter Filkins (The New Yorker, author of The Forever War)
Wednesday, January 16, 2013 / 8:00 PM
Campbell Hall – FREE

Dexter Filkins is one of the most respected combat journalists of his generation. His 2008 book, The Forever War, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Best Nonfiction Book and was named a best book of the year by the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time and the Boston Globe. As part of a team of New York Times reporters, Filkins won a Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for dispatches from Pakistan and Afghanistan. In this lecture, he will retrace the seven years he spent covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, using vivid images by some of the best photojournalists working today. Filkins’ intimate knowledge of many of the main actors – American, Iraqi and Afghan – in two of the most polarizing wars in American history gives him a unique perspective on these contemporary conflicts.

Filkins has been a member of the staff of The New Yorker since January of 2011. Before coming to The New Yorker, he was a reporter for the New York Times since 2000, reporting from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. He has also worked for the Miami Herald and the Los Angeles Times, where he was chief of the paper’s New Delhi bureau. Filkins was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2006-07 and a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 2007-08.

Copies of The Forever War will be available for purchase and signing at the event, courtesy of Chaucer’s Books.

Sponsored by the IHC series Fallout: In the Aftermath of War and the IHC Harry Girvetz Memorial Endowment.

Watch Filkins’ talk below:

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2011 - 2012

Talk: Seeking Spatial Justice and the Right to the City

Edward Soja (Urban Planning, UCLA)
Thursday, January 19, 2012 / 4:00 PM
McCune Conference Center, 6020 HSSB

In his 2010 book Seeking Spatial Justice, from which this lecture will be drawn, Soja argues that justice has a geography and that the equitable distribution of resources, services, and access is a basic human right. Building on current concerns in critical geography and the new spatial consciousness, Soja interweaves theory and practice, offering new ways of understanding and changing the unjust geographies in which we live. After tracing the evolution of spatial justice and the closely related notion of the right to the city in the influential work of Henri Lefebvre, David Harvey, and others, he demonstrates how these ideas are now being applied through a series of case studies in Los Angeles, the city at the forefront of this movement.  Edward Soja is the Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning at the UCLA School of Public Affairs and for many years was Centennial Visiting Professor in the Cities Programme, London School of Economics. He is the author of Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Theory, Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places, and Postmetropolis: Critical Studies of Cities and Regions.

Sponsored by the IHC’s Harry Girvetz Memorial Endowment as part of its Public Goods series.

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2009 - 2010

Talk: The End of the Public University and the Beginning of the Next

Christopher Newfield (English, UCSB)
Wednesday, May 12, 2010 / 4:00 PM
McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB

History is replete with nations that declined because their leaders gradually undermined their own best institutions.  The U.S. now appears to be doing this to its exemplary higher education system, with the University of California serving as Exhibit A.  This lecture will look at the contradictions within the American funding model for higher education, and discuss three major symptoms: reduced affordability for students, the loss of US educational preeminence in 20 years, and underdeveloped social and cultural disciplines. It will also suggest two major steps through which the decline of public higher education could be reversed.  Professor Newfield has offered an authoritative view of UC Budget issues and the funding shortfall crisis on his blog: http://utotherescue.blogspot.com

Sponsored by the Harry Girvetz Memorial Endowment and the IHC’s Future of the University Series.

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