Oak Park Harper Lecture with Elisabeth S. Clemens, AM ’85, PhD ’90

The University of Chicago Alumni Association

October 23, 2014: 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

"Private Acts and Public Goods," featuring Elisabeth S. Clemens


The Carleton of Oak Park Hotel
1110 Pleasant Street
Oak Park, Illinois

Event Details

Faced with war, disaster, or depression, Americans have often relied on the mobilization of private giving as a method for meeting public problems. As a result, voluntary activities and philanthropic projects have long been deeply entwined with government efforts. Civil War volunteers raised funds to support soldiers; their counterparts in the First World War helped veterans to apply for government pensions. Civic activists continue to rally support for nonprofit organizations that are supported partly by public funds and to solicit donations that are subsidized by the federal tax code. Elisabeth S. Clemens, AM'85, PhD'90, will highlight the relationship between civic benevolence and public policy by sharing examples of how philanthropic choices are made, including a recent classroom case study.

Clemens is chair of the Department of Sociology and the William Rainey Harper professor of sociology and the College. An award-winning editor and author, Clemens is now at work on Civic Gifts, in which she explores how voluntary efforts and civic benevolence have contributed to the development of the powerful modern American state and to current possibilities for social innovation.


$20/person for general admission
$10/person for recent graduates (College alumni of the past ten years and graduate alumni of the past five years)
Two complimentary registrations for members of the Alumni Leadership, Chicago, Harper, and Phoenix Societies

Includes program and refreshments


Register Online

Deadline: 10/21/2014


6:00 PM-7:00 PM: Registration and reception

7:00 PM-8:30 PM: Presentation and discussion

Speaker Profiles

Elisabeth S. Clemens AM’85, PhD’90 (Speaker)

Elisabeth S. Clemens (A.M. 1985, Ph.D 1990) is Professor and Chair of Sociology at the University of Chicago as well as a former Master of the Social Sciences Collegiate Division. Her research explores the role of social movements and organizational innovation in political change. Clemens' first book, The People's Lobby: Organizational Innovation and the Rise of Interest Group Politics in the United States, 1890-1925 (Chicago, 1997) received best book awards in both organizational sociology (1998) and political sociology (1999). She is also co-editor of Private Action and the Public Good (Yale, 1998), Remaking Modernity: Politics, History and Sociology (Duke, 2005), Politics and Partnerships: Voluntary Associations in America's Past and Present (Chicago, 2010; winner of the 2012 Virginia Hodgkinson Research Prize from ARNOVA), and the journal Studies in American Political Development. She is now completing Civic Nation which traces the tense but powerful entanglements of benevolence and liberalism in the development of the American nation-state.

Professor Clemens has served terms as chair of both the political sociology and comparative historical sociology sections of the American Sociological Association, as a member of the Social Science Research Council Program on Philanthropy and the Third Sector, and as President of the Social Science History Association for 2012-13.


Kelly Doody