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Rebuilding America Through Civility and Civic Engagement

October 10, 2018
Mountainlair Ballrooms
7:30 p.m.

Book signing to follow.

“Our entire capacity as a republic now depends, in a genuinely future-oriented way, on whether we are, in fact, truly capable of continuing the process of civic engagement, civil conversation, even at a moment when the country is deeply polarized,” says Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman.

Free speech in debating, followed by voting, and then more debating – these are the things that allow a democracy to keep going and protect the country from the extreme divisiveness that could lead to civil war.

The need to engage civilly and maintain integrity is an ethical duty. While these two qualities aren’t required by the First Amendment – uncivil speech is protected just as much as civil speech, most people aren’t getting far without them, especially when it comes to decisions in their professional lives. According to Feldman, “Civility and integrity are among the most useful values for getting you to a place that otherwise is not possible.”


Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman is a highly respected public intellectual known for his ability to frame and explain complex legal issues as well as foreign policy, politics and religion. Called “one of the stars of his generation” by Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, he writes a weekly column for Bloomberg News, specializing in real-time analysis of today’s big legal cases. Esquire named him one of the “75 most influential people of the 21st century.”

The Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, Feldman teaches constitutional and international law and is a Senior Fellow of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. He speaks four languages, including Arabic and Hebrew, and is an expert on Islamic philosophy and law, the separation of church and state, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

One of New York Magazine’s three most influential contemporary idea-drivers, Feldman clerked for Supreme Court Justice David Souter and served as a senior constitutional adviser during the drafting of Iraq's constitution. He speaks widely on international affairs and what he calls "the intersection of ideas and real world power politics.” His new Bloomberg web series, "The Method," presents arguments on both sides of controversial issues in an effort to spur understanding and reasonable discussion.

According to Harvard Law’s William Rubenstein, “When Noah Feldman opens his mouth words flutter out like butterflies loosed from a net. The effect is luminous, but the substance concrete. Few people know as much about as many things, fewer still are able to articulate their knowledge with the style, insight, and passion that Noah – with little apparent effort – commands.”

Publishers Weekly called Feldman's Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Justices "a first-rate work of narrative history that succeeds in bringing the intellectual and political battles of the post-Roosevelt Court vividly to life." His 2013 book, Cool War: The Future of Global Competition, is a thought-provoking look at U.S.-China relations. His other books include Constitutional Law: Eighteenth Edition (co-authored with Kathleen Sullivan), The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State, Divided by God, and After Jihad. 

In October 2017, Feldman released his book, "The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President," a sweeping reexamination of the founding father who transformed the United States.

Feldman is the director of the Julis-Rabinowitz program on Jewish and Israeli Law at Harvard Law. A graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School, he earned a doctorate in Islamic thought from Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.

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