By Andrew Cohen
When she joined Berkeley Law’s faculty in 2007, Professor Sarah Song quickly realized that her interests and expertise fit seamlessly with the Kadish Center for Morality, Law, & Public Affairs. A political and legal theorist and a major contributor to the center’s work over the past several years, Song was recently named its new director.
In 2000, Sanford “Sandy” Kadish—a preeminent criminal law scholar, longtime Berkeley Law professor, and former dean—founded the center with his wife, June Kadish. He had an enormous impact on the school, and on Song, before his death in September.
“I’m honored and excited to take on this new role, and much of that is tied to my admiration for Sandy as a colleague and my affection for him as a friend,” Song said. “The issues he cared about and his vision for the center are increasingly important in today’s world.”
The Kadish Center has become a hub for research and reflection on philosophical issues in law and public affairs. It hosts speaker series, conferences, a for-credit seminar, and an annual lecture that collectively draw top UC Berkeley scholars and prominent academics from around the world, with regular participation as well by faculty at UC Davis and Stanford.
Song succeeds faculty colleague Christopher Kutz, the director since 2006. During that time, the center has hosted workshops and conferences focusing on the philosophical foundations of criminal law theory, religious liberty and law, book manuscripts by center affiliates, and a large international conference on utilitarian moral theory.
An easy choice
“Sarah is a wonderful scholar focusing on citizenship and equality, a marvelous teacher, and an energetic participant in Kadish Center activities,” Kutz said. “She and I have run the center’s GALA (General Aspects of Law) speaker series for years, and have co-taught the workshop… She’s a natural for the role.”
Song, who has degrees from Harvard (undergraduate), Oxford (masters), and Yale (Ph.D.), studies issues of citizenship, migration, religion, gender, and race.
Her 2007 book, Justice, Gender, and the Politics of Multiculturalism received the American Political Science Association’s Ralph Bunche Award. Now completing a book entitled Immigration and the Limits of Democracy, she has also received fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
“Sarah, who has been an outstanding contributor to our activities, was the obvious and unanimous choice to succeed Chris Kutz,” said Professor David Lieberman, who chairs the Kadish Center’s advisory board. “We all look forward to having the center’s leadership in such brilliant, capable, and generous hands.”
The centerpiece of the center’s work this school year will be a weekly workshop course that enlists outside speakers to present works-in-progress in legal, moral, and political philosophy. The speakers will include legal scholars, philosophers, and political theorists addressing a range of topics.
Song will co-lead the course with new Berkeley Law distinguished senior fellow and renowned political theorist Joshua Cohen. Song and Cohen were colleagues in the political science department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) before each moved west.
“I’m delighted to be working with Josh again and we’re very excited about our diverse lineup of speakers,” Song said. “An innovation this year is that students will serve as commentators. They’ll provide a brief summary and raise a few critiques or points for discussion. Also, after each workshop, the commentator and a couple other students will be invited to dinner with that week’s speaker. The aim is to foster deep engagement among students and leading faculty scholars.”
The course is one of the more diverse offerings on campus, with students enrolling from Berkeley Law’s JD, Ph.D., and LL.M, programs as well as from with the Philosophy and Political Science Departments. “The interchange among students in different schools and departments will be very valuable,” said Song, who noted that the first 90 minutes of each workshop session is open to all Berkeley students and faculty.
While the Kadish Center will continue to focus on issues at the heart of criminal law and public affairs, it will also foster connections with social scientists working on a host of other normative questions in law, politics, and society, including inequality and global justice.