Section 1


Cline Symposium

Cline Symposium Norm Ornstein

Since 1995, the Cline Symposium has established itself as the most visible and prestigious public affairs event on the Illinois campus, bringing together hundreds of students and scores of alumni and friends to discuss a plethora of issues. The Symposium pioneered a unique and engaging format that continues to produce a challenging and memorable experience for participants.

The two-day event includes a public keynote address by a renowned speaker on a topic of great public significance, a roundtable discussion, and small group discussions led by prominent alumni and friends of the university. These discussion leaders are assisted by students nominated by senior faculty, guided by an agenda and briefing materials produced by the Cline Center. The first day also features a working luncheon and dinner with the keynote speaker, alumni and friends. In addition to small-group dialogue, the second day includes a breakfast for all participants, as well as plenary discussion and wrap-up luncheon led by the Cline Center’s Director, Professor Scott Althaus. Participants benefit from carefully prepared briefing materials that are distributed well in advance of the Symposium.

The Symposium has featured a wide range of prominent public intellectuals, including Harvard University Professors Robert Putnam (Bowling Alone), Samuel P. Huntington (The Clash of Civilizations) and Edward O. Wilson (Consilience), Professors James Q. Wilson (The Moral Sense), James MacGregor Burns (Transforming Leadership) and Geoffrey Stone (War and Liberty: an American Dilemma, 1790-present) Pulitzer Prize winners Thomas Friedman (The Lexus and the Olive Tree) and Hendrik Smith (Who Stole the American Dream?) and noted commentator Kevin Phillips (Wealth and Democracy).


Past Symposia

American Grand Strategy and the Changing Global Order

Keynote Speaker: Professor Eliot A. Cohen

November 09, 2017


Sheila Krumholz


Professor Eliot A. Cohen - is the Robert E. Osgood Professor and Director of the Strategic Studies Program at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). During 2007-2009 he served as Counselor of the Department of State. Professor Cohen is also a US Army veteran and has served on the Policy Planning Staff of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as well as the Defense Policy Advisory Board. He won the Air Force’s decoration for exceptional civilian service for leading the Gulf War Air Power Survey, which included eleven book-length reports. His books include The Big Stick (2017), Conquered into Liberty (2011), and Supreme Command (2002). His BA and PhD degrees are from Harvard University. Prof. Cohen writes frequently for major newspapers and is a contributing editor at The Atlantic.


Money in American Politics

Keynote Speaker: Sheila Krumholz, Executive Director of the Center for Responsive Politics,

November 11, 2016


Sheila Krumholz


Sheila Krumholz - joined Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) in 1989 serving as assistant editor of the very first edition of Open Secrets. Today she is the Center's Executive Director and a preeminent expert on money in American politics and efforts to conceal it. CRP's website - - has been described by Dan Rather as "the authority in the increasingly murky world of campaign finances," a trusted source of data for experts, political campaigns and the media. In 2010, Fast Company named Sheila to its "Most Influential Women in Technology" list.


Restoring the Promise of Higher Education

Keynote Speaker: Prof. Suzanne Mettler (Bio) - Cornell University

(March 5-6, 2015)


Recapturing the American Dream

Keynote Speaker: Hendrik Smith (Bio) - Pulitzer Prize-winnning reporter and editor for the New York Times; Emmy award-winning producer/correspondent for the PBS show Frontline

(March 11-12,2014)


Does the National Debt Really Matter? Deficit Spending and Democratic Governance

Keynote Speaker: Norman Ornstein - American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and columnist for Roll Call

(October 22-23, 2012)


After the Arab Spring: The Future of Democracy in the Middle East

Keynote Speaker: Professor Timur Kuran - Duke University
(April 9-10, 2012)

The events that have swept across North Africa and the Middle East since January 2011 have transformed the political map of the region.  Jointly termed the Arab Spring, these popular uprisings have brought down some of the most entrenched and repressive authoritarian regimes of our times.  Yet the political future of the Middle East is far from set.  While some countries in the region are setting up transitional governments and devising constitutional frameworks for their first democratic elections, others are in the midst of violent protests and fierce repression.  The political origins, dynamics, and implications of these momentous events will be the focus of the 2012 Cline Symposium.


Democracy in the 21st Century

Keynote Speaker:Professor Jose Cheibub - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
(November 8-9, 2010)

Demoracy is, today, the preferred form of political organization in the world.  Unlike the state of affairs a few decades ago, the predominance is uncontested: there is no one in today's world who is taken seriously and advocated an alternative form of government.  It seems that popular participation in government, even if only through the people's representatives, is the sine qua non of a legitimate political order.  So much so that even the most repressive regimes on earth claim to be "democratic" or to represent their "people." Some regimes even claim to be both, such as the Democractic People's Republic of Korea.  Yet, democracy is still a contested political form.  The absence of challengers proposing an alternative to it does not imply a consensus about what democracy is.  As a matter of fact, democracy may mean so many things to so many different people that one wonders whether its supremacy as the legitimate form of political organization for the contemporary world is not a curse in disguise. At a more academic level, definitions of democracy range from the narrow to the very broad making it a struggle to determine the "real" meaning of the term.  The Fall 2012 Cline Symposium will explore why this is the case and what are the alternative views on basic criteria for labeling a country a democracy.


Amnesty and Immigration Reform: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities

Keynote Speakers: Daniel Tichenor - University of Oregon | Peter Skerry - Boston College and Brookings Institution
(March 30-31, 2010)

Legislation to reform immigration policy in the United States was proposed in December 2009, and President Obama has listed immigration reform as one of his top goals for 2010. While there is a general consensus across the ideological spectrum that the current immigration policy is rife with problems, there is much less agreement on what changes should be made. Efforts at comprehensive immigration reform were last made in 2006 and 2007. Though these efforts were unsuccessful they generated a great deal of public debate - as well as extensive press coverage of large-scale demonstrations by immigrants. Immigration reform can potentially cover a vast number of issues, including border control, sanctions against employers who abuse immigrants' vulnerable status, the type of questions to include in the naturalization test, and how many visas should be granted to workers with different skills. However, the topic that most vividly caught the nation's attention in 2006 was the question of what should be done about the millions of undocumented immigrants who are already in the U.S.

Some politicians and pundits have asserted that all undocumented immigrants should be deported. However, because of logistical difficulties that make this an impractical option, this view is shared by a relatively small portion of those informed about immigrant policy. The costs, administrative details, and unlikely success of what would be a massive and disruptive effort suggest that it is not a realistic option. The alternative is to allow the undocumented immigrants to remain under certain conditions. While "amnesty" was often the blanket term used to refer to all such proposals in 2006, the conditions varied widely, including whether these immigrants would actually be legalized and whether "amnesty" would be a one-shot deal. The issue of what to do with the millions of undocumented immigrants in this country will be at the core of the upcoming debate about immigration in the U.S. Thus, the Spring 2010 Cline Symposium will focus on issues by providing a careful overview of key issues in this debate. It will address these questions by focusing specifically on the consequences of amnesty for the United States, while recognizing that this is an issue confronting many countries around the world.


Morality, Markets, and the Future of American Capitalism

Keynote Speaker: Professor John Freeman - University of Minnesota
(October 19 & 20, 2009)

The current economic crisis has undermined America's faith in "free markets," leading many to question their highly vaunted efficiency. This change is significant because both the allure and moral foundations of free enterprise economies derive largely from their putative efficiency. As a result of recent developments, the attitudes of experts, politicians, and the public about the proper relationship between government and the economy are in flux. Some see this situation as an opportunity to implement what they view as long overdue market reforms; this can be seen in current debates over healthcare reform and the regulation of the financial sector of the American economy, for instance. Others are more hesitant about a rapid embrace of market reforms; their concerns are rooted in both short-term and long-term considerations. To many of these skeptics the developments of the latter part of the 20th century have demonstrated that there is no viable alternative to free market capitalism. To others, a commitment to free enterprise is deeply embedded in both the constitutional foundations and the American ethos. They fear that fundamentally altering this commitment could undermine the success of the American experiment.

Given both the timeliness and importance of these concerns, they will be the focus of the Fall 2009 Cline Symposium on Morality, Markets, and the Future of American Capitalism. The symposium will provide a probing and balanced consideration of key issues in this debate: What are the virtues of the market? What are the lessons of the current economic crisis? What is the appropriate balance between state and market in the post-crisis economy? It will address these questions by focusing specifically on the consequences of financial globalization for American democracy as well as political and policy challenges associated with rebuilding the infrastructure of both this country's and the world's financial markets.


Higher Education and the Development of Human Capital: A Morrill Act for the 21st Century

Keynote Speaker: Richard Herman - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
(April 7 & 8, 2009)

There are three sets of interrelated issues in regards to education today. The first concerns the adequacy of the preparatory process. A set of financial and structural issues has undermined the capacity of schools at the K-12 level to produce students who are prepared to meet the demands of higher education. Deficiencies in student performance in areas such as reading, mathematics and science have given rise to serious concerns about our ability to produce citizen-workers of the future who can compete effectively in the global economy. Without adequately prepared students the benefits of higher education cannot be maximized. The second issue concerns access to higher education. Declines in public support of higher education and spiraling costs threaten to put higher education beyond the reach of large numbers of aspiring and qualified students who will be central to sustaining American competitiveness. The last issue concerns curricular issues and emphases within higher education. Some have advocated a greater emphasis on STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics); others have argued that this reflects too narrow of a view of the 21st challenges facing the U.S. These issues must be addressed and resolved in order for higher education to play an effective role in meeting these challenges, and these will be the issues addressed and discussed throughout the Spring 2009 Cline Symposium.


Journalism, Elections, and Governing: Have Our Worst Fears Become Reality?

Keynote Speaker: Tom Rosenstiel - Project for Excellence in Journalism
(April 21 & 22, 2008)


The Ethics of Deception in Government

Keynote Speaker: Dennis Thompson - Harvard University
(April 23 & 24, 2007)


U.S. Policy in an Era of Globalization

Keynote Speaker: G. John Ikenberry - Princeton University
(April 18 & 19, 2006)


National Security and Civil Liberties: Striking Balance in Times of Terror

Keynote Speakers: Geoffrey R. Stone - University of Chicago School of Law | Harry Kalven Jr - University of Chicago School of Law
(April 14 & 15, 2005)


Making Democracy Work

Keynote Speakers: Clarence Page - Chicago Tribune | David Brooks - New York Times
(October 26 & 27, 2004)


Political Leadership: Democratic Challenges and Ethical Dilemmas

Keynote Speaker: James MacGregor Burns - University of Richmond
(April 1 & 2, 2004)


Private Markets, Public Orders and Human Welfare

Keynote Speaker: Kevin Philips -, Political and Economic Analyst, Media Commentator, and Author
(March 17 & 18, 2003)


War, Terrorism and Public Life

Keynote Speaker: Theda Skocpol - Harvard University
(April 4 & 5, 2002)


Globalization and Its Discontents: Cultural, Political and Economic Consequences of Globalization

Keynote Speaker: Thomas L. Friedman - New York Times
(March 29 & 30, 2001)


The Biological Foundations of Social Life

Keynote Speaker: Edward O. Wilson - Harvard University
(October 19 & 20, 1999)


The Moral Foundations of Community

Keynote Speaker: James Q. Wilson - American Enterprise Institute
(September 14 & 15, 1998)


Globalization and the Cultural Foundations of Societies

Keynote Speaker: Samuel P. Huntington - Harvard University
(March 20 & 21, 1997)


The Crisis in Public Life

Keynote Speakers: The Honorable John B. Anderson - Former U.S. Representative and 1980 Presidential Candidate | Robert Putnam, Harvard University
(March 28 & 29, 1995)