What Are Foundations For? A Panel Debate on Philanthropy and Democracy

Rob Reich, Stanford University
Discussants: Eric Beerbohm, Frederick S. Danzinger Associate Professor of Government; Phil Buchanan, Center for Effective Philanthropy; Christine Letts, Rita E. Hauser Senior Lecturer in the Practice of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership
Tuesday, April 23, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Land Hall, Harvard Kennedy School
Co-sponsored by the Ash Center, Boston Review Magazine, Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, and the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

About the Seminar

Judge Richard Posner suggests that foundations are “total scandals” because they lack market or electoral accountability. Foundations also operate without significant transparency requirements, elevate the preferences of wealthy individuals across generations, and are recipients of generous tax breaks. In this final Democracy Seminar of the semester, Rob Reich will explore the role of foundations in democratic societies. He argues that foundations can gain legitimacy in spite of their plutocratic power, through their work in supporting pluralism and in long-run social policy innovation. Phil Buchanan, Christine Letts, and Eric Beerbohm will respond.

About Rob Reich

Rob Reich is an associate professor of political science in the Department of Political Science, Stanford University. Recent work includes: “What are Foundations For?” Boston Review, March/April 2013—A Boston Review forum discussion, with responses by Stanley Katz, Paul Brest, Larry Kramer, Diane Ravitch, Christopher J. Coyne, Deborah Fung, Rick Cohen, Scott Nielsen, Tyler Cowen, Seana Shiffrin, Pablo Eisenberg, Robert K. Ross, Eric Beerbohm, Gara LaMarche, and Emma Saunders-Hastings; Occupy the Future, David Grusky, Doug McAdam, Rob Reich, Debra Satz, eds., Boston Review/MIT Press, 2013: (Amazon, Powell’s, MIT Press); and Education, Justice, and Democracy, Danielle Allen and Rob Reich, eds., University of Chicago Press 2013. (Amazon, Powell’s, U Chicago Press).

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