A Global Think-in on Virtual Transparency in the 21st Century

December 9, 2015 · 5-6:30PM

Columbia Law School, Jerome Greene Hall, Room 104

The Committee on Global Thought (CGT) presents a GLOBAL THINK-IN with Columbia Law School professor and author of “Exposed” Bernard Harcourt, Editor-in-Chief of The Intercept Betsy Reed, and New York Times reporter and Wired columnist Clive Thompson, along with President and CEO of Cane Investments, LLC and former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale, as well as CGT member and Dean of Strategic Initiatives for the Arts & Sciences David K. Park.

  • global exposure shadowBernard Harcourt, Columbia Law School Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Director of the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought, author of “Exposed: Desire and Disobedience in the Digital Age.”
  • Betsy Reed, Editor-in-Chief of The Intercept.
  • Clive Thompson, writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired.
  • Moderated by Judith McHale, President and CEO of Cane Investments, LLC, and former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.
  • Welcome remarks by David K. Park, CGT member and Dean of Strategic Initiatives for the Arts & Sciences.

About Exposed

Social media compile data on users, retailers mine information on consumers, Internet giants create dossiers of who we know and what we do, and intelligence agencies collect all this plus billions of communications daily. Exploiting our boundless desire to access everything all the time, digital technology is breaking down whatever boundaries still exist between the state, the market, and the private realm. Exposed offers a powerful critique of our new virtual transparence, revealing just how unfree we are becoming and how little we seem to care. Bernard Harcourt guides us through our new digital landscape, one that makes it so easy for others to monitor, profile, and shape our every desire. We are building what he calls the expository society—a platform for unprecedented levels of exhibition, watching, and influence that is re-configuring our political relations and reshaping our notions of what it means to be an individual.

About the Global Think-ins

In October 2014, the Committee on Global Thought launched Global Think-ins, vehicles for generating new ideas and perspectives on issues of major global concern. Think-ins are designed as incubators for academics and practitioners from varying disciplinary and methodological backgrounds, geographical locations, and expertise to share, critique, and develop new ideas. Global Think-ins take the form of closed-door brainstorming sessions paired with open public events, and the format will include in situ exchange with global participants.

The Think-ins began with a series entitled, Rethinking Knowledge. Although universities are designed to generate and disseminate knowledge, rarely do we reflect on what counts as knowledge or evidence, what lends credence to theory, or what shape that knowledge must take to grasp a changing world. Rethinking Knowledge poses such questions across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, with an eye toward redefining how urgent matters are addressed in a globalizing world. The series began with two events on campus in 2014-15: Global Governance and Evidence-Based Medicine: How Sound is the Evidence. They are followed by events at select Global Centers, which brought different perspectives and insights from the countries and regions in which the Centers are located.

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Bernard HarcourtBernard Harcourt joined the Columbia Law School faculty in July 2014. His scholarship intersects social and political theory, the sociology of punishment, and penal law and procedure. He is the author most recently of The Illusion of Free Markets: Punishment and the Myth of Natural Order (Harvard University Press 2011) and of Occupy: Three Inquiries in Disobedience (with W. J. T. Mitchell and Michael Taussig, University of Chicago Press 2013). He is the editor of Michel Foucault’s 1973 Collège de France lectures, La société punitive (Gallimard forthcoming) and the co-editor with Fabienne Brion of Michel Foucault's Mal faire, dire vrai (Louvain 2012).

He is also the author of Against Prediction: Punishing and Policing in an Actuarial Age (University of Chicago Press 2007), Language of the Gun: Youth, Crime, and Public Policy (University of Chicago Press 2005), and Illusion of Order: The False Promise of Broken-Windows Policing (Harvard University Press 2001). Harcourt is the coauthor of Criminal Law and the Regulation of Vice (Thompson West 2007), the editor of Guns, Crime, and Punishment in America (New York University Press 2003), and the founder and editor of the journal Carceral Notebooks.

Harcourt earned his bachelor's degree in political theory at Princeton University, his law degree at Harvard Law School, and his Ph.D in political science at Harvard University. After law school, he clerked for the Hon. Charles S. Haight Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and then worked as an attorney at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, representing death row inmates. Harcourt continues to represent death row inmates pro bono and has also served on human rights missions in South Africa and Guatemala.

Harcourt served most recently as the Julius Kreeger Professor of Law and Political Science at The University of Chicago. He also has taught at Harvard Law School, New York University Law School, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Université Paris X–Nanterre, and Université Paul Cézanne Aix-Marseille III, and was previously on the faculty at the University of Arizona. Harcourt is the former chair of the political science department at The University of Chicago.


Judith McHale shadowJudith McHale is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Cane Investments, LLC, a private investment company focused on providing early stage capital and strategic advice and assistance to start-up companies in the United States and around the world. Prior to her current position Ms. McHale served as the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, helping lead America’s engagement with the people of the world. Appointed by President Obama, she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 21, 2009 and sworn in on May 26 of that year. As Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Ms. McHale oversaw the operations of the Bureaus of Education and Cultural Affairs, International Information Programs and Public Affairs. In addition Ms. McHale worked closely with the White House and the National Security Council to develop a coordinated approach to global strategic communications across multiple government departments and agencies including the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency and US/AID.

Ms. McHale is the former President and Chief Executive Officer of Discovery Communications, the parent company of the Discovery Channel. She spearheaded numerous acquisitions, including The Learning Channel and the Travel Channel and oversaw the launch of Animal Planet, Discovery Science, the Military Channel and other highly regarded networks. Prior to Discovery, Ms. McHale served as General Counsel for MTV Networks, overseeing legal affairs for MTV, Nickelodeon and VH-1.


David Park

David K. Park is Dean of Strategic Initiatives for the Faculty of the Arts and Sciences at Columbia University and a member of the Committee on Global Thought. Dr. Park is a member of Columbia University’s Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering New Media Center, Director of Special Projects at the Applied Statistics Center and Fellow at the Center for the Management of Systemic Risk at Columbia University. Dr. Park is also a founding member of Columbia University’s Digital Storytelling Lab. Dr. Park has co-founded several New York based technology companies.

Dr. Park is currently exploring the historical arc of universities, limitations and possibilities of “big data”, how failure and vulnerability are the foundations of innovation and creativity across organizations, as well as the electoral origins of congressional polarization. Dr. Park is also working on several manuscripts including, The Twentieth Century Sectional Reversal: How did the Republican States Switch to the Democrats and Vice Versa? and Is History Repeating Itself? Comparing 1875 to 1928 and 1971 to 2008.

Dr. Park received his BS in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland and his PhD in political science at Columbia where he focused on historical comparative institutional analyses of societal change. He was an assistant professor of political science and applied statistics at Washington University, assistant professor at George Washington University, visiting professor at Columbia University and Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation. He has written numerous articles and co-authored Red State Blue State Rich State Poor State: Why American Vote the Way They Do (Princeton University Press).


Betsy ReedBetsy Reed is Editor-in-Chief of The Intercept.

Previously, she was Executive Editor of The Nation, where she led the magazine’s award-winning investigative coverage. She has edited several bestselling books, including Jeremy Scahill’s Blackwater and Dirty Wars. Reed co-edited the New York Times bestseller “Going Rouge: Sarah Palin–An American Nightmare” with Richard Kim.

She is also the editor of the essay collections “Unnatural Disaster: The Nation on Hurricane Katrina,” published on the storm’s one-year anniversary; and “Nothing Sacred: Women Respond to Religious Fundamentalism and Terror” published in 2003.


Clive ThompsonClive Thompson is a longtime contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired.

As a child growing up in Toronto of the 1970s and 80s, Clive Thompson became fascinated with the first “home computers”—the ones you plugged into your TV, like the Commodore 64, and programmed using BASIC. He was hooked, spending hours writing video games, music programs, and simple forms of artificial intelligence. The obsession stuck with him, even as he went to the University of Toronto to study poetry and political science. When he became a magazine writer in the 1990s, the Internet erupted into the mainstream, and he began reporting on how digital tools—everything from email to digital photography to instant messaging—was changing society.

Clive started out pessimistic about the impact of the Internet on life. He worried, like many social critics before him, that society and civility would fall off a cliff. But over the next twenty years he realized that when everyday people were given remarkable powers of self-expression on a global scale, amazing things happened more often than not: Wikipedia, YouTube “response” conversations, collaborative art, crazy new forms of writing like TV recaps, collaborative problem-solving, and the ESP-like awareness that comes from the status-update universe.

Today, Thompson is one of the most prominent technology writers, respected for doing deeply-reported, long-form magazine stories that get beyond headlines and harness the insights of science, literature, history and philosophy. He specializes in writing not merely on the inventors of technologies, but about how everyday people use them—often quite unpredictably. In addition to the New York Times Magazine and Wired, he writes for Mother Jones and Smithsonian. He is one of the longest-running bloggers, having launched his science-and-tech blog Collision Detection since 2002. In his spare time he’s also a musician, performing in The Delorean Sisters and writing original music as part of the duo Cove. He is married and lives in Brooklyn with his two children.