Lunch with Evan Wolfson
Davenport students got a rare opportunity to speak with Evan Wolfson, a renowned gay rights advocate, and founder and president of Freedom to Marry at a lunch in the Dining Hall with Head J-Witt on Monday October 2nd. Wolfson, who teaches at Georgetown Law School, discussed his experience fighting for marriage rights starting with his work in Lambda Leaders and culminating in the 2015 Obergefell vs. Hodges Supreme Court Decision.
This week, Davenport hosted its first Mellon Forum of the year. Mellon Forums are presentations given by seniors to their residential college class on projects of academic or personal significance. Students can present their thesis research, but Mellon presentations can also be the platform for you to share any project, internship, or hidden talent. They allow us to eat together and learn about each other’s interests and also give presenting seniors the opportunity to deliver a professional-level research presentation with support from experienced College fellows. Dean B has said that Mellons are the best way to continue building and celebrating the community that has made our Yale years so special.
On Tuesday night, Associate Head of College Annie Murphy Paul and Head of College John Witt presented on their life’s work. Annie Murphy Paul talked about discussions with her writers’ group and their exploration of their “big question” that drives their work. Annie named her question as, “Why are we the way we are?” She explained how this question drove her work while writing The Cult of Personality Testing: How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies, and Misunderstand Ourselves and Origins: How the Nine Months Before Shape the Rest of Our Lives. In following the “big question theme,” John Witt explained how his work and his three books on legal history are framed under, “How do people shape history?” He described his perspective on legal history and some the interesting stories in each of his books, An Accidental Republic, Patriots and Cosmopolitans, and Lincoln’s Code.
To learn more about our Heads’ excellent work, watch Annie Paul’s TED talk about how babies’ months in the womb affect the rest of their lives. Additionally, check out John Witt’s research on Lincoln and military law in his book, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
Fellows Dinner and Talk: Avoiding The Thucydides
Last night, Davenport Head of College John Witt hosted the first Davenport Fellows Dinner of the year. Dinner was catered by the extraordinary people at Sanctuary Kitchen. Dinner was followed by a talk with Professor Paul Kennedy, a long-time Davenport College fellow and the J. Richardson Dilworth Professor of History, with a response from one of our newest Davenport fellows, Taisu Zhang, Associate Professor of Law.
Professor Kennedy presented the hypothesis that the Thucydides trap could lead to a conflict between China and the U.S. In 12 of the 16 cases in which a rising power has confronted a ruling power, the result has been bloodshed. Professor Kennedy described how China’s rising power would be threatening to the US, especially due to China’s very contemporary military power, China’s rising GDP, and China’s aggression in the South China Sea. However, he also presented that the Chinese president recognizes the Thucydides trap and that China is running out of resources.
Taisu Zhang brought up interesting points from a Chinese perspective and intelligently rejected the hypothesis about the possible Thucydides trap. China’s unique sort of nationalism is partially based on a need to win at whatever they have tried. He hypothesized that they would be willing to fight in the South China Sea but that they would not underestimate American soft power.