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Janus Forum Debates

Janus Forum Student Society

Kevin Ralph, President
Jay Morgan, Social Media Director
Sharon Burk and Lucas Wright, Outreach Team
Jody Arembad, Tyler Jacobs, Dan Lewis, Jeff Raines, Bradley Russian, Brandon Thaler, and Emma Zaballos, General Members

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Janus Forum

PTI sponsors a series of student-run debates through its Janus Forum Student Society. Janus, the god who looked two ways, is the symbol for this debate society. The Janus Forum invites to campus prominent intellectuals with distinctly different points of view to debate a topic. Other debates will be led by AU faculty or AU students. Every student club on campus that deals with moral and political questions may have a member on the Janus Forum Student Society Board.

2013-2014 Debates

"Gender Roles: Nature or Nurture?"
Camille Paglia v. Jane Flax

Tuesday, October 8th
8:00-10:00 pm, Mary Graydon Center 3


Camille Paglia

Camille Paglia is University Professor of Humanities and Media Studies at the University of the Arts, where she has taught since 1984 when she was appointed by the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts. She received her B.A. from the State University of New York at Binghamton and her M.Phil. and PhD degrees from Yale University. She taught at Bennington College for eight years and was a visiting instructor at Wesleyan University and Yale College. A frequent contributor and critic on art, literature, popular culture, feminism, politics and religion for publications around the world, Paglia's recent article, "Lady Gaga and the Death of Sex," was the cover story of the U.K.'s Sunday Times Magazine. Paglia is also the author of numerous national best sellers, including Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990); Sex, Art, and American Culture (1992); Vamps & Tramps: New Essays (1994); and The Birds, a study of Alfred Hitchcock published in 1998 by the British Film Institute in its Film Classics Series. Her fifth book, Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-Three of the World's Best Poems was released by Pantheon Books in 2005 and became a national bestseller, as did its paperback edition published by Vintage Books in 2006. Paglia's sixth book, Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars, was published by Pantheon Books in 2012, while the subsequent paperback was released by Vintage Books in 2013.

Jane Flax

Jane Flax is currently a Scholar in Residence in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at American University. Previously she taught at Howard University, Stanford University, University of Maryland (Baltimore County) and University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is also a psychotherapist in private practice in Washington, DC. Her BA is from the University of California at Berkeley and Ph.D. from Yale University. Her books include Thinking Fragments, Disputed Subjects, The American Dream in Black and White, and Resonances of Slavery in Race/Gender Relations. She has also published more than 50 book chapters and journal articles on a wide range of subjects, including philosophy of science, mother-daughter relations, ethics, critical theory, race/gender, psychoanalysis, feminist theories, postmodernism, subjectivity, justice, American political thought and politics, epistemology, Kant, and Foucault's "care of the self." Currently her work focuses on ethics, Foucault and philosophies of mind.

"Economic Inequality: Causes and Consequences"
Charles Murray v. Timothy Noah

Wednesday, November 6th
8:00-10:00 pm, Butler Board Room


Event Photos

Charles Murray

Charles Murray is a political scientist, author, columnist, and pundit currently working as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Murray earned his B.A. from Harvard University and his PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is best known for his controversial book The Bell Curve, co-authored with Richard Herrnstein in 1994. He first became well known for his Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950–1980 (1984), which discussed the American welfare system. Murray has also written In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government (1993), What It Means to be a Libertarian: A Personal Interpretation (1997), Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950 (2003), and In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State (2006). He published Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality in 2008. Murray's articles have appeared in Commentary Magazine, The New Criterion, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.

Timothy Noah

Timothy Noah writes twice weekly for MSNBC's Web site, tv.msnbc.com, and twice monthly for Remapping Debate (remappingdebate.org). Noah earned his B.A. from Harvard University. Previously he was a senior editor at the New Republic, where he wrote the "TRB From Washington" column, and for a dozen years before that he was a senior writer at Slate, where he wrote the "Chatterbox" column, among other duties. Prior to that he was a Washington-based reporter for the Wall Street Journal, an assistant managing editor for U.S. News & World Report, a congressional correspondent for Newsweek, and an editor of the Washington Monthly (where he remains a contributing editor). Noah has written for a variety of other national publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Harper's, and Fortune, and has contributed frequent broadcast commentaries to CBS Sunday Morning and NPR's Day To Day. In 2010, Noah was also a National Magazine Award finalist for his Slate coverage of Obamacare. Noah edited two anthologies of the writings of his late wife, Marjorie Williams: the New York Times best seller The Woman At The Washington Zoo (2005), which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award, and Reputation (2008). He received the 2011 Hillman Prize for a 10-part Slate series on income inequality in the U.S. that he subsequently expanded into his 2012 book, The Great Divergence: America's Growing Inequality Crisis And What We Can Do About It.

"The NSA and Privacy"
General Michael Hayden v. Barton Gellman

Thursday, April 3rd
8:00-10:00 pm, Mary Graydon Center 2 - 5 & Ward 2


Gen Michael Hayden_1

General Michael Hayden is a retired four-star general who served as director of the CIA and the NSA. As head of the country’s keystone intelligence-gathering agencies, he was on the frontline of geopolitical strife and the war on terrorism. 

Hayden entered active duty in 1969 after earning both a B.A. and a M.A. in modern American history from Duquesne University. He is a distinguished graduate of the Reserve Officer Training Corps program. In his nearly 40-year military career, Hayden served as Commander of the Air Intelligence Agency and Director of the Joint Command and Control Warfare Center. He has also served in senior staff positions at the Pentagon, at the headquarters of the U.S. European Command, at the National Security Council, and the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria. He also served as deputy chief of staff for the United Nations Command and U.S. Forces in South Korea. 

From 1999–2005, Hayden served as the Director of the NSA and Chief of the CSS after being appointed by President Bill Clinton. He worked to put a human face on the famously secretive agency. Sensing that the world of information was changing rapidly, Hayden worked to explain to the American people the role of the NSA and to make it more visible on the national scene. 

After his tenure at the NSA and CSS, General Hayden went on to serve as the country's first Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, the highest-ranking intelligence officer in the armed forces. In May of 2006, President George W. Bush appointed General Hayden as the Director of CIA; he served until 2009. As Director, General Hayden was responsible for overseeing the collection of information concerning the plans, intentions and capabilities of America’s adversaries; producing timely analysis for decision makers; and conducting covert operations to thwart terrorists and other enemies of the US. 

Valued for his expertise on intelligence matters like cyber security, government surveillance, geopolitics, and more, Hayden has been a frequent commentator for major news outlets, as well as a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. Hayden was also featured in the HBO documentary Manhunt, which looked at espionage through the eyes of the insiders who led the secret war against Osama bin Laden.  

Hayden is currently a principal at the Chertoff Group and a distinguished visiting professor at the George Mason University School of Public Policy. He also serves on a variety of boards and consultancies. In 2013, the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) awarded Hayden the 29th annual William Oliver Baker Award.

Barton Gellman Barton Gellman is a two time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and lead reporter on Edward Snowden's NSA disclosures at the Washington Post.

A critically honored author, journalist, and blogger, Gellman is a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and Lecturer and Author in Residence at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School.

Gellman graduated summa cum laude from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He then went on to earn his M. Litt. in politics at University College, Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar.

Gellman spent 21 years on the staff of the Washington Post. He covered the Washington, D.C. courts, 1991 Persian Gulf War, U.S. intervention in Somalia, and the social upheavals relating to the status of gays and women in the military. In 1994, Gellman became Jerusalem bureau chief, covering peace negotiations, the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, and the ascent of Benjamin Netanyahu. Later, Gellman returned to Washington as a diplomatic correspondent, covering Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the collapse of the UNSCOM effort to disarm Iraq. In 1999, Gellman moved to New York to take up a role as a special projects reporter, covering the global AIDS pandemic, the post-9/11 war with al Qaeda, the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the vice presidency of Dick Cheney. In 2010, he left the Washington Post to concentrate on his own personal writings.

Gellman returned temporarily to the Post in 2013 after receiving an archive of NSA documents from Snowden. With his colleagues he has broken stories about the PRISM collection program, thousands of undisclosed violations of NSA rules, a secret operation to break into Google and Yahoo data cables overseas and mass surveillance programs collecting email address books, mobile device locations and telephone call recordings overseas. In December, he was the first reporter to interview Snowden at length in Moscow.

As a journalist and author, Gellman has won numerous awards. In 2002, he shared a Pulitzer for National Reporting with his colleagues for their reporting on the September 11 attacks. Gellman's series on Dick Cheney, with partner Jo Becker, also won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008, as well as a George Polk Award, and the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. The series went on to become his bestselling book, Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was named a New York Times Best Book of 2008. The Overseas Press Club, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the American Society of Newspaper Editors have all honored Gellman’s work. His NSA coverage won a second Polk award last month.

In addition to his Cheney book, which is in development as a feature film, Gellman is the author of Contending with Kennan: Toward a Philosophy of American Power, as well as a history of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. His next book is a secret history of the surveillance-industrial state that grew out of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The Role of Art in Liberal Democracies"
Rogar Kimball v. Farhang Erfani

Wednesday, April 16th
8:00-10:00 pm, Mary Graydon Center 3 - 5


Roger Kimball

Roger Kimball is Editor and Publisher of The New Criterion and President and Publisher of Encounter Books. He is an art critic for National Review and writes a regular column for PJ Media at Roger’s Rules. Mr. Kimball lectures widely and has appeared on national radio and television programs as well as the BBC.

Kimball's latest book is The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia (2012). He is also the author of The Rape of the Masters, Lives of the Mind: The Use and Abuse of Intelligence from Hegel to Wodehouse, and Art's Prospect: The Challenge of Tradition in an Age of Celebrity. Other titles by Kimball include The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America and Experiments Against Reality: The Fate of Culture in the Postmodern Age.Mr. Kimball is also the author of Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education.  

Kimball is a frequent contributor to many publications in the US and England, including The New Criterion, The Times Literary Supplement, Modern Painters, Literary Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Public Interest, Commentary, The Spectator, The New York Times Book Review, The Sunday Telegraph, The American Spectator, The Weekly Standard, National Review, and The National Interest.  

Kimball is also a contributor to and co-editor, with Hilton Kramer, of Against the Grain: The New Criterion on Art and Intellect at the End of the Twentieth Century, The Future of the European Past: Essays from The New Criterion, The Betrayal of Liberalism: How the Disciples of Freedom and Equality Helped Foster the Illiberal Politics of Coercion and Control, The Survival of Culture: Permanent Values in a Virtual Age, Lengthened Shadows: America and Its Institutions in the Twenty-First Century, and Counterpoints: 25 Years of The New Criterion on Culture and the Arts. In addition, Mr. Kimball edited and provided introductions to an edition of Walter Bagehot's Physics and Politics: Or, Thoughts on the Application of the Principles of "Natural Selection" and "Inheritance" to Political Society and Against the Idols of the Age, an anthology of writings by the Australian philosopher David Stove. 

Kimball has served on the Board of Advisors of the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History, the Board of Visitors and Governors of St. John’s College, Annapolis and Santa Fe, and Transaction Publishers. He currently serves on the board of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.


Farhang Erfani is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at American University and Research Associate at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa. He has also taught at Villanova University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Bryn Mawr College, and St. Joseph’s University. His areas of Specialization include continental Philosophy, political philosophy, and aesthetics. He is the author of two books: Iranian Cinema and Philosophy: Shooting Truth (2012) and The Aesthetics of Autonomy: Ricœur and Sartre on Emancipation, Authenticity and Selfhood (2011) and the editor of another: Paul Ricœur (1913-2005): Honoring and Continuing the Work (2011). He has also published articles and book chapters on Marx, Machiavelli, Rousseau, Tocqueville, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Sartre, Ricoeur, Lacan, Levinas, Lefort, Merleay-Ponty, Dickinson, Beckett, Iranian cinema, and the politics of boredom. He has a Baccalauréat de Science from France, his B.A. is from University of the Pacific, and his M.A. and Ph.D. are in philosophy from Villanova University.

Review Our 2012-2013 Janus Forum Debates

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William Kristol vs. William Galston

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Are The Benefits of American Global Leadership Worth The Costs?

Christopher Preble vs. Jamie Fly

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