Carnegie Mellon University

Thomas Kerr Lecture Series

Sponsored by the Pre-Law Program since 2010, the Thomas Kerr Lecture Series hosts speakers who discuss topics related to law and American society. The namesake of the Pre-Law Society at CMU, as well as the annual lecture, is the late Thomas M. Kerr, Jr.


No lecture in academic year 2019-2020.


Cass Sunstein

Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School

Topic: “Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media”
Co-sponsoed by the University Lecture Series.

Thursday, September 27, 2018
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Porter Hall 100
Carnegie Mellon University

Sunstein’s lecture will focus on how, as the Internet grows more sophisticated, it is creating new threats to democracy. Social media companies—such as Facebook—can sort us ever more efficiently into groups of the like-minded, creating echo chambers that amplify our views. It's no accident that on some occasions, people of different political views cannot even understand each other. Sunstein will describe how the online world creates "cybercascades," exploits "confirmation bias" and assists "polarization entrepreneurs." And he will explain why online fragmentation endangers the shared conversations, experiences and understandings that are the lifeblood of democracy. In response, Sunstein will propose practical and legal changes to make the internet friendlier to democratic deliberation.


Jonathan Turley

J.B. and Maurice Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at the George Washington University Law School

Topic: "The Rise and Fall of Free Speech in the West"
Co-sponsored by the University Lecture Series and the Dietrich College Dean’s Office.


John Fabian Witt

Allen H. Duffy Class of 1960 Professor of Law at Yale Law School and Professor of History at Yale University's History Department

Topic: "The Switch: The Twentieth-Century Reinvention of American Freedom"
Co-sponsored by the Phi Beta Kappa Society Visiting Scholars Program and the University Lecture Series.


Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Topic: "Judge Antonin Scalia: A Matter of Interpretation"
Co-sponsored by the CMU Center for International Relations & Politics.


Robert Mueller

Former Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Topic: "The FBI: Safeguarding National Security"
Co-sponsored by the CMU Center for International Relations & Politics.


No lecture in 2013-2014 academic year.


The Honorable Tom Ridge

Former Head of the Department of Homeland Security, Former Governor of Pennsylvania

Topic: "Political Leadership in the Presidential Election Season"
Co-sponsored by the CMU Center for International Relations & Politics.


Robert Zoellick

President of the World Bank

Topic: "A Conversation on Global Economic Issues"
Co-sponsored by the CMU Center for International Relations & Politics.


Fred Crawford (DC'83)

Associate General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency

Topic: "This Shall Never Happen Again: The Policy of Intelligence Law"