The Promise of Education - Danielle Allen

Danielle Allen

April 12, 2018 | 7 p.m. | 2452 Knauss Hall, WMU

“Inequality, Citizenship, and the Promise of Education”

When we think about education and equality, we tend to think first about distributive questions—for example, how to design a system that will offer the real possibility of equal educational attainment, if not achievement, to all students. The vocational approach imagines that this equal attainment will translate into a wider distribution of skills, which will reduce income inequality. The civic conception of education suggests a very different way to understand the link between education and equality. This understanding begins with the recognition that fair economic outcomes are aided by a robust democratic process and, therefore, by genuine political equality. Thus an education focused not merely on technical skills, but also on what I call participatory readiness, provides a distinct and better way to promote equality through schooling.

Allen, Professor of Government and the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University and Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, is a political theorist who has published broadly in democratic theory, political sociology, and the history of political thought. Allen is the author of five books: "The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens" (2000), "Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education" (2004), "Why Plato Wrote" (2010), "Our Declaration" (2014), and "Education and Equality" (2016). "Our Declaration" was awarded the 2015 Francis Parkman Prize and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award for nonfiction, and she is also a contributing columnist for The Washington Post.