Distinguished Speakers

The mic is live.

The Baldy Center proudly sponsors a series of speakers each year who share their ongoing work on important topics in law and society. The speakers provide an important catalyst for research and dialogue in the Baldy community.

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NOVEMBER 3, 2023

Claire Priest (Yale)

Claire Priest.

Claire Priest (Yale Law School)

"From Invasion to Formalization: The Peruvian Origins of the Property Titling Movement"
NOVEMBER 3, 2023

Friday, Noon, Reception
12:30 p.m. Lecture
509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus 
Attend in-person or via Zoom.
Request the paper in advance via email to baldycenter@buffalo.edu

Speaker Bio: Claire Priest is the author of Credit Nation: Property Laws and Institutions in Early America (Princeton University Press). The book describes how even before the United States became a country, laws prioritizing access to credit set colonial America apart from the rest of the world.


NOVEMBER 17, 2023

Tao L. Dumas (TCNJ Political Science)

Tao Dumas.

Tao Dumas


“Anyone but the Lawyer: Race, Gender, and Misattribution in the Legal Profession”
NOVEMBER 17, 2023

Noon, Reception
12:30 p.m. Lecture
509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus 
Attend in-person or via Zoom.
Speaker Bio: Tao Dumas is associate professor of political science at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). Dumas' research focuses on the political role of U.S. courts and the ways lawyers shape and work within the legal system. She is interested in how institutional differences across states condition winners and losers in the courts and how attorneys’ experience, expertise, and demographics impact their legal practices. 



Greta LaFleur

Greta LaFleur, The Baldy Center Mid-career Fellow
"Sex Panics and Risk Metrics: Law, Propensity, and the History of Sexuality"
Noon, Friday, 509 O'Brian Hall
Attend in-person or via Zoom registration.



MARCH 1, 2024

Kim Lane Scheppele (Princeton)

Kim Lane Scheppele.

Kim Lane Scheppele 

“Destroying Democracy by Law.” 
March 1, 2024

Noon Reception
12:30 p.m. Lecture
509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus 
Attend in-person or via Zoom registration.
Speaker Bio: Kim Lane Scheppele is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. She is also a faculty fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Her primary field is the sociology of law and she specializes in ethnographic and archival research on courts and public institutions. Scheppele also works in sociological theory, comparative/historical sociology, political sociology, sociology of knowledge and human rights.  



Library of Congress webinar on Actual Malice: Civil Rights and Freedom of the Press in New York Times v. Sullivan


Library of Congress: Watch a Recording of our 2023 Constitution Day Event | In Custodia Legis (loc.gov)

SEPTEMBER 14, 2023
(Livestreamed 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. ETThe Library of Congress presents Constitution Day 2023, featuring UB School of Law Professor Samantha Barbas who will discuss the roots of the U.S. Supreme Court’s New York Times v. Sullivan decision, which created the “actual malice” standard that a public official must prove in a successful suit for defamation. Learn more about the book.


Cynthia Estlund (NYU Law)

Cynthia Estlund.

Cynthia Estlund (NYU, Law)

SEPTEMBER 22, 2023
“Democratic Contestation Rights for the Workplaces We Have” 

509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus
Noon, Reception
12:30 p.m., Lecture
Attend in-person or via Zoom registration.

Speaker Bio: Cynthia Estlund is the Catherine A. Rein Professor at NYU School of Law. Her most recent book is Automation Anxiety: Why and How to Save Work (Oxford, 2021). She has published widely on the law and regulation of work, including three earlier books: A New Deal for China’s Workers? (Harvard, 2017); Regoverning the Workplace: From Self-Regulation to Co-Regulation (Yale, 2010); and Working Together: How Workplace Bonds Strengthen a Diverse Democracy (Oxford, 2003). 


Estlund's lecture draws from her recent book, Automation Anxiety: Why and How to Save Work (Oxford 2021). The book confronts the prospect of mounting job losses from automation and proposes a strategy to move forward from the shrinking demand for human labor. Estlund offers a multifaceted strategy centered on conserving, creating, and spreading work to ensure broad access to adequate incomes, more free time, and decent remunerative work in a world with less of it. Addresses growing economic inequality and persistent racial stratification as we face the prospect of net job losses

From Oxford University Press: Are super-capable robots and algorithms destined to devour our jobs and idle much of the adult population? Predictions of a jobless future have recurred in waves since the advent of industrialization, only to crest and retreat as new jobs-usually better ones-have replaced those lost to machines. But there's good reason to believe that this time is different. Ongoing innovations in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics are already destroying more decent middle-skill jobs than they are creating, and may be leading to a future of growing job scarcity. But there are many possible versions of that future, ranging from utterly dystopian to humane and broadly appealing. It all depends on how we respond.

This book confronts the hotly-debated prospect of mounting job losses due to automation, and the widely-divergent hopes and fears that prospect evokes, and proposes a strategy for both mitigating the losses and spreading the gains from shrinking demand for human labor. We should set our collective sights, it argues, on ensuring access to adequate incomes, more free time, and decent remunerative work even in a future with less of it. Getting there will require not a single "magic bullet" solution like universal basic income or a federal job guarantee but a multi-pronged program centered on conserving, creating, and spreading work. What the book proposes for a foreseeable future of less work will simultaneously help to address growing economic inequality and persistent racial stratification, and makes sense here and now but especially as we face the prospect of net job losses.


Alan W. Clarke.

Alan W. Clarke

Alan W. Clarke, professor emeritus in the Integrated Studies Program, Utah Valley University, is a senior fellow at The Baldy Center, 2023-24. Clarke holds a Juris Doctor from the College of William and Mary, an LLM from Queen’s University, and a PhD from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. He practiced law after graduating from William and Mary, with a focus on social justice broadly construed, including, civil rights, voting rights, labor organizing, poverty law, and death penalty post-conviction process.

Clarke’s academic research since 1997 has revolved around several broad, connected themes in international and transnational criminal law and human rights, criminology and criminal justice policy, civil rights, legal history, law and society, and critical legal studies, climate change and survival refugees.

Clarke plans to analyze interdisciplinary legal studies on the boundaries of human rights, international criminal law, immigration law, demography, human and cultural geography, political science, during the term of The Baldy Center senior fellowship. He has published extensively in law reviews and social science journals and has authored or co-authored three books:

  • Laurelyn Whitt and Alan W. Clarke, North American Genocides: Indigenous Nations, Settler Colonialism and International Criminal Law, Cambridge University Press (2019)
  • Alan W. Clarke, Rendition to Torture, Rutgers University Press (2012)
  • Alan W. Clarke & Laurelyn Whitt, The Bitter Fruit of American Justice: International and Domestic Resistance to the Death Penalty, Northeastern University Press (2007)

Clarke's recent focus on policy and legal responses to human migration and refugees influenced by climate change has been published in an article Climate Change, Migration and Pandemics: Human Rights in the Anthropocene, in 47 Vermont Law Review 1 (2022). While continuing to work in the area of survival migrants Clarke will also investigate international legal issues revolving around the evolving legal issues surrounding Russia’s war of aggression with a particular focus on the need to create a hybrid international court.

Also see Wikipedia.

OCTOBER 6, 2023

“North American Genocides: Indigenous Nations, Settler Colonialism, and International Law”
Friday, 509 O'Brian Hall
12:15 p.m. Reception
12:30 p.m. Lecture
Attend in-person or via Zoom.


Mihreteab Tsighe Taye (School of Law)

Mihreteab Taye (UB School of Law).

“Vulnerability of Academic Freedom in Countries under Violent Conflict”
OCTOBER 24, 2023

Tuesday, 3:00 p.m.
509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus 
Attend in-person or via Zoom
Join us for a presentation by Dr. Mihreteab Tsighe Taye (School of Law) a native of Ethiopia, who came to UB through the university’s Scholars at Risk fellowship program, which provides a safe and supportive academic home to scholars who face threats in their country of origin. At the school of law, Taye's research focuses on human rights law and international courts, specifically the African Human Rights Court and the East African Community Court. 

Prior to coming to UB, Taye was at New York University School of Law as a Research Scholar from 2022-2023, and, a Hauser Postdoctoral Global Fellow from 2021-2022. Professor Taye received his Ph.D. in Law from the University of Copenhagen, an LL.B. from Addis Ababa University, and a master’s in international law from Erasmus University Rotterdam. Taye's research has focused particularly on law and politics in regional human rights and economic courts in Africa. 



Dr. Mary Frances Berry

History Teaches Us to Resist: Struggles and Progress in Challenging Times

Mary Berry.

Dr. Mary Frances Berry, portrait courtesy of APB.

APRIL 5, 2023, Co-Sponsored Speaker
Dr. Mary Frances Berry
 (University of Pennsylvania)
Hybrid event, in-person and via Zoom.

Dr. Mary Frances Berry is the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought, History and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She insists that each generation has the responsibility to make a dent in the wall of injustice. In her latest book, History Teaches Us to Resist: How Progressive Movements Have Succeeded in Challenging Times, Dr. Berry recounts many of the protests in which she was active, analyzes their organizing strategies, and considers the lessons we can learn from them. 

For event details, visit the website: 
UB CAS Department of Africana and American Studies

The event is co-sponsored by the Department of Africana and American Studies, and The Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, School of Law, with support provided by the Department of History, the Gender Institute, and, the Department of Global Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Michael Levien

A Green New Deal in Red States? Towards a Sociology of Energy Transition

Michael Levien.

Michael Levien, PhD

APRIL 6, 2023, Co-Sponsored Speaker
Michael Levien 
(Johns Hopkins University)
Thursday, 3:00 pm ET
509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus 
The hybrid event is held in-person and via Zoom

A Green New Deal in Red States? 
Towards a Sociology of Energy Transition

Abstract: Averting catastrophic climate change requires winding down fossil fuel production over the next few decades. Although renewable energy will create “green jobs,” these are thus far more poorly paid and less unionized than those in fossil fuel industries. They are also unlikely to employ the exact same workers in the same regions.  Without major efforts to the contrary, a renewable energy transition is thus likely to deindustrialize fossil fuel producing regions, generating a familiar pattern of job loss, social dislocation and political resentment. Adding to the political challenge, a majority of fossil fuel production in the United States occurs in red states and disproportionately employs white men without college degrees—the constituency that has proven most receptive to right-populist appeals, including to protect fossil fuel industries. While most climate and energy policy completely neglects the regional political economy of fossil fuel production, I argue that current left theories of climate politics—including those concerned with “Just Transition” and a Green New Deal—are also so far inadequate to the problem. Drawing on preliminary ethnographic and interview research in West Virginia and Louisiana, I demonstrate the limitations of these proposals to overcome local fossil fuel hegemonies and to build the needed political coalitions for a renewable energy transition. While drawing some tentative conclusions about how these political programs might be strengthened, I argue that doing so requires more sociological and specifically ethnographic research on comparative energy transitions.

Bio: Michael Levien is associate professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 2013. His research falls within the fields of development sociology, political sociology, agrarian political economy and social theory. The main focus of his research has been on the drivers, consequences, and politics of land dispossession. This research has been largely ethnographic and focused on India, but has also included cross-national comparisons. Additional research interests have included the expansion of land-related corruption and criminality in post-liberalization India, and global trends in public opinion towards markets and inequality over the past three decades. His new research focuses on climate change and the politics of energy transition in fossil fuel producing regions in the U.S.

The event is hosted by the Critical Ecologies Research Collaborative through a grant made possible by the UB Office of International Education. Co-sponsors include The Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy.


Veronica L. Horowitz

Incarceration during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Compounding the Pains of Imprisonment.

Veronica Horowitz, PhD.

Veronica Horowitz, PhD

Veronica L. Horowitz  
509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus
Noon, Reception;
12:30 pm, Lecture.
Attend in-person or via Zoom.



Presentation:  Incarceration during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Compounding the Pains of Imprisonment. 

Co-Authors: Veronica L. Horowitz, Synove Anderson and Jordan Hyatt 

Abstract: For people in prison, incarceration can be both intentionally difficult (as part of retributive punishment) and experienced in less purposeful or justified ways. Beginning with Sykes, scholars have long sought to classify the various “pains of imprisonment” into a theoretical taxonomy. Within the modern carceral environment, however, the way these pains are both applied and lived has become increasingly dynamic. The experience of, and fallout from, the COVID-19 global pandemic, which uniquely affected prison communities, has additionally compounded these shifts. To critically examine these theoretical and practical relationships, we conducted semi-structured interviews with incarcerated men (n=58) who were imprisoned in a medium security prison in a Northeastern state throughout the pandemic. Qualitative analyses explore the perceived painfulness of incarceration in this context as well as throughout their sentences. We find that COVID-19 amplified, diversified, and compounded both new and classic pains of imprisonment. Beyond the pandemic, these findings expand our understanding of how carceral punishments are experienced, highlighting the fluid and interconnected relationship between simultaneous pains and providing a more generalizable framework for understanding the lived experience of incarceration.

Bio: Veronica L. Horowitz, recipient of a research grant from The Baldy Center, is an assistant professor in the department of sociology, University at Buffalo. Her research focuses on American criminal punishment broadly, with subfocuses on gender, stratification, and mercy. Faculty profile.

PAST SPEAKERS 2021 - 2022



FALL 2021