Yale Tercentennial to Co-sponsor Public Forum on Multiculturalism with Manhattan Institute

Yale University continues its year-long Tercentennial celebration with a special Democratic Vistas Forum titled “Reinventing the Melting Pot,” in collaboration with the Manhattan Institute, on March 23 from 1 to 6 p.m. in the Yale Law School Auditorium.

The notion of the melting pot, a reconsideration of an old goal - and a new, “realist” redefinition - could ultimately strengthen one of our most hallowed ideals and a distinctive feature of American democracy.

The forum seeks to establish the kind of assimilation that is possible today, what would be desirable, how we would reframe and re-articulate the melting pot vision to make it work for a cosmopolitan 21st-century America and how these challenges might be addressed in places like New Haven.

The first panel, “Assimilation: Toward a New Definition,” will consider ways to reframe the concept of assimilation today. This session will be moderated by journalist Tamar Jacoby, ‘76, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Guest participants will include David A. Hollinger, professor of history at the University of California at Berkeley; Michael Lind, senior fellow at the New America Foundation; Douglas S. Massey, professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania; Orlando Patterson, professor of sociology at Harvard; and Alejandro Portes, professor of sociology at Princeton. The panel takes place from 1 to 3:30 p.m.

The second panel, “Immigration and the Urban Experience: New Haven and Elsewhere,” moderated by Rogers Smith, professor of political science at Yale, will address the implications of assimilation for cities like New Haven, comparing the experience of today’s migrants with those, both black and white, who came in an earlier era. Stephan Thernstrom of Harvard will offer a historical perspective with reference to the existing scholarship on the New Haven experience. Douglas Rae, professor of management and political science at Yale, will discuss how the issues raised in the first panel are playing out in America’s cities, including New Haven, in view of the altered economic and political conditions since the time of the first great wave of immigration. The panel takes place from 3:45 to 6 p.m.

Local leaders Patricia McCann-Vissepo, executive director of Casa Oto al, a senior citizens center, former president of the New Haven Board of Education, and a columnist for the New Haven Register; and Lyndon Pitter, executive director of Highville Mustardseed Community Development Corporation and founder of a charter school, will offer comments based on the New Haven experience. Following the panels, Smith will moderate a discussion that seeks to integrate the local perspective into the broader conceptual and historical discussion.

For more information on Yale’s Tercentennial, visit www.yale.edu/yale300 or call 203-432-0300.