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CSLR lecture series to probe plight of vulnerable populations
By Patti Ghezzi | Emory Law | Aug 14, 2012 12:08:00 AM

An upcoming lecture series at Emory University will explore what happens to deeply needy populations when the modern welfare state begins to collapse. “When Law and Religion Meet 2012-2013: The Rights of the Needy” begins September 13 at Emory Law.

“How do we protect the rights and needs of the deeply needy after the welfare state as we know it is no more,” asks John Witte, Jr., director of Emory’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR), which is hosting the series.  “That is the ominous question posed by the Great Recession as state safety nets and support systems for the most vulnerable populations become ever harder to maintain. It challenges all people of good will to rethink what it means to love their neighbors.  And it challenges religious, political, and voluntary associations to reforge new alliances in the delivery of services to the most needy.”

Distinguished scholars from Emory and the University of Heidelberg will discuss basic human vulnerability, the role of church and community in protecting children, the American ethos of housing and home ownership, and the power of mercy in caring for the weak.

The events are free and open to the public.

September 13, 4:30-6 p. m., Emory Law, Tull Auditorium (reception to follow)

The Rights of the Needy: Children as the Most Vulnerable

Martha Albertson Fineman, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law at Emory, outlines “Vulnerability and the Human Condition.” She presents “vulnerability” as an alternative to the “equal protection” standard, arguing that it should be understood to be universal and constant, and has the potential to move society beyond the “stifling confines of current discrimination-based models.”

Fineman is the founding director of Emory Law’s Feminism and Legal Theory Project and the director of its Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative. She is a world authority on feminist legal theory.

Barbara Bennett Woodhouse, L.Q.C. Lamar Professor of Law at Emory, discusses "Blessing Vulnerability, Building Resilience: Children, Church, and Community." She explores how a shared religious tradition honoring the child plays a role in fostering laws, policies, and practices that are a response to every child's vulnerability -- and are designed to help children build resilience.

Woodhouse is the faculty advisor to Emory Law’s Barton Child Law and Policy Center, which provides representation to youth in juvenile courts and ensures the safety of abused and court-involved children in Georgia. She is one of the nation’s foremost experts on children’s rights.

February 20, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Emory Law, Tull Auditorium

The Rights of the Needy: Housing America's Families -- Investments, Risks, and Families

Frank S. Alexander, Sam Nunn Professor of Law at Emory, will reexamine the basic American ethos of housing and homeownership in light of the Great Recession.  He will probe the goals of homeownership, the competing stories of housing as investments and as shelter, and ask that we get the story right as we seek to provide safe, decent, and affordable housing for all Americans.

Alexander is CSLR’s founding director and general counsel of the Center for Community Progress. He is one of the nation’s leading experts on the mortgage crisis, affordable housing, and homelessness.

March 27, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Candler School of Theology, Room 252

The Rights of the Needy: The Power of Mercy in Biblical Law

Michael Welker, Chair for Systematic Theology at the University of Heidelberg, investigates major biblical law codes to show that mercy -- the care for the weaker -- is not a surplus and luxury in common human life. Instead, it is a fundamental component of legal systems, institutions, and organizations that want to promote justice and are rightly called "humane.”

Ordained in the Protestant Church of Palatinate, Germany, Welker is a world-renowned theologian who works through the biblical traditions and through philosophical and sociological theories to address questions of contemporary culture. He is director of the University of Heidelberg’s Research Center for International and Interdisciplinary Theology, and studied with Jürgen Moltmann, one of the most celebrated theologians of modern times.

This event is co-sponsored by Candler School of Theology.