An interdisciplinary group of more than 20 eminent UC Berkeley's faculty (economists, lawyers, journalists, historians, Ethnic Studies..) has organized a brainstorming initiative to come up with specific and concrete proposals that could be an alternative to the current administration policies. One proposal that came out after 2 meetings  from Prof. Christopher Kutz is to build a Blue Wall around the states of California, Oregon and Washington. Blue states can’t secede from the Union, but they can form regional coalitions. The 3 states would engage in deeply-linked domestic policy initiatives and multi-state institutions and regulatory policies. The most familiar area for regionalism involves cap-and-trade. Expanding trading markets brings more emissions sources into the system, allowing greater cost savings in achieving emissions goals. Regional trading may fit especially well with the regional organization of the electricity grid. Other areas where the 3 states have the similar policies are immigration and health care. Competition (e.g. trade agreements) and taxation could also be part of this regional coalition. These issues will be discussed during the next meetings. Another proposal from Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman is to have a progressive Californian Wealth Tax ( 1% above 20 millions) and a reform of the corporate tax system  (tax on global profits and not only on profits made in the US with sales apportionment: e.g. if a company makes 10% of its sales in California it would pay 10% of its global profit as Californian taxes). One of the objective of the group is to make those proposals public (e.g. through the media) and to meet with policymakers to discuss their feasibility and implementation.
Vote World is a central website which archives, maintains, and distributes datasets of roll-call voting from legislative bodies throughout the international community. The nucleus of the website contains data for the United States House of Representative and Senate (assembled by Keith Poole of Houston and Howard Rosenthal of Princeton), from the European Parliament (assembled by Simon Hix of LSE, Abdul Noury of ULB and Gerard Roland from UC Berkeley), and from the United Nations (assembled by Erik Voeten). Vote World is a project of iGov, with the support of the EU Center of excellence of UC Berkeley. Researchers from all over the world are able to access this unique website to download data and also to upload their datasets and their papers. Active projects include data on the United Nations General Assembly assembled by Erik Voeten of George Washington University, the Czech and Polish Parliaments assembled by Noury and Roland, and the Latin American Parliaments assembled by John Carey and his collaborators. The main challenge is to create some "open source" software standards to allow other datasets projects from other legislatures to be available in VoteWorld. Without such standards, maintenance of such a project would be cumbersome. Keith Poole is currently doing a great service to the research community by maintaining his website for the US Congress but given the growth of research, it has become necessary to develop a common platform allowing researchers to upload easily their databases on roll call data. Such a database would make an enormous contribution to the development of scientific knowledge relating to a wide variety of fields in the social sciences. A benchmark for software is found in the VoteView program, developed with NSF support at Princeton and available as downloadable free shareware at either a Howard Rosenthal, one of the designers of VoteView, has become a Visiting Scholar at Berkeley. He is actively participating in the development of the software and the Berkeley website. A partial list of research output of this community, either using Nominate or VoteView is available on this website. A more ambitious mission has been to improve the VoteWorld interface to where it could be used actively by undergraduates at small colleges and by high school students. This was the basis behind "VoteWorld Online" and the "Animations". (The first version of VoteView is currently used in introductory American politics courses including those taught by Nolan McCarty at Princeton and Cheryl Schonhardt-Bailey at the London School of Economics). This website will also serve an important archival purpose. After the development of the Nominate scaling method by Poole and Rosenthal in the 1980s, the assembly of large legislative roll call datasets "took off". These datasets have permanent value to the research community. It is important to find a means of institutionalizing their availability in order that access will transcend the research careers of the scholars who have assembled them. This involves not only keeping the existing datasets on the web but in keeping the datasets current. For example, the United States Congress now spans 1789 through 2000. Keeping it current will, at some point, require institutional support. Comparative data on legislative voting can be widely used not only by political scientists but also by economists, sociologists and historians. It will also allow non-academics - specifically high-school and middle-school students to look at roll call votes the day after (or as soon as they would be posted) they occur. This will have great educational value. In fact, use of VoteView screens is occurring spontaneously. One example is the Deer Park Elementary School in Fairfax County, Virginia.
This project has been funded by the European Union within the framework of the Pilot Project on Transatlantic Methods for Handling Global Challenges (  with the following broad objectives: I. Main Objectives 1. Analyse EU and US energy technology road maps, the potential for synergies and opportunities for harmonisation, with the focus on energy R&D aimed at enhanced energy efficiency. 2. Identify joint EU‐US approaches to supporting emerging economies’ own efforts to embrace energy efficient and low carbon technologies. 3. Set the above in the context of the current global economic climate, and the respective EU, US and emerging countries’ actions for economic revival (while considering the availability and viability of options for re‐launching economic growth on an energy efficient, low carbon track while generating “green” jobs).Specifically, to highlight how and to what extent support for energy efficiency and associated technologies and innovation can contribute to wider economic stimulus ‐ ‘Green New Deal’ – type ambitions. Subsidiary Objectives Help policy makers in EU, US and emerging economies better understand how to maximise the impact ‐ in terms of energy efficiency, the development of economic activity, climate change impacts etc – of support for energy technologies and related R&D. Create a virtual Global Energy Efficiency Forum, to support ongoing dialogue and interaction between academics, business and policy leaders to generate mutual respect and understanding about their view and analyses as to how improved energy efficiency and associated technologies can be mobilised. Contribute to the post Kyoto and Copenhagan climate change outcomes by providing evidence to inform the continuing evolution of policy as regards energy efficiency and technology and research and development and to R&D policy for the future. Scope The scope of the project includes energy efficiency in buildings, transport and industry, and the emphasis is on the policies needed to achieve both implementation of existing well established technologies, and to stimulate the development and implementation of energy saving innovations in both products and services. It is a joint project of UC Berkeley' s iGov-Institutions and Governance Program with the Earth System Institute, University College, Dublin - Sustainable Energy Ireland - Centre for European Study Policy Studies (Brussels).
We propose a Berkeley working group on the nature of State Violence.  Since Weber, the concept of violence has been constitutive of the idea of statehood, insofar as the state is characterized by its claimed monopoly on the right to exercise violence.  We think of state violence typically as associated with the direct use of coercive, and frequently lethal, force in the context of law enforcement and military operations.  The ideal of the rule of law, central to the self-understanding of liberal democracy, takes as its first goal the control of state violence, channeling it through strict rules of engagement and limited by “necessity.” Many observers, however, have come to think of violence in less manifest forms as deeply woven through practices and policies of even liberal democratic states. State violence, in this broader sense, includes the many indirect ways in which state authorities preserve their power and discipline their subjects.  How a state allocates access to basic goods might be thought of as a form of violence, since denial of such access has comparable effects on human life.  Similarly, status hierarchies can be created and maintained by state authorities through various forms of labeling and categorization, with the effects of subordinating different classes of subjects; such activities might also be thought of as forms of “structural” political violence.  Clearly, the notion of state violence, and the rhetorical force that comes with the word, is broad and contestable.  Indeed, the rhetorical success of a broad notion of violence stems from its indeterminacy, as well as from the ease with which analogical or extended forms of violence can be claimed and identified.  But that rhetorical expansiveness comes at an analytical price.  While a notion of violence restricted to immediate physical impact may be too narrow, the notion must have some contours and exclusions to do useful critical and explanatory work.  A careful understanding of the contours of state violence is especially important to the project of “exiting violence,” which we understand as the goal of reducing or eliminating the states reliance on covert and over violence as a means of governance.  Such a goal depends upon understanding some forms of governance as non-violent.  Thus, we propose an analytical investigation of the idea of state violence, as a way of marking its territory and revealing alternative possibilities.  Our investigation will be both conceptual/philosophical and empirical, oriented around examining specific contexts of state violence, including criminal justice, the use of military force, and economic exclusion, reflecting the diversity of interests of the members of the project.  In particular, we propose investigating the following questions, with a group of researchers drawn from both humanistic (theoretical) and social scientific traditions.  We anticipate work that is both narrowly collaborative (co-authored) and broadly collegial, reflecting cross-disciplinary exchanges. -- What are the best frames, in political, social, and moral theory, for thinking about the nature of violence in general, and in its relation to the state? -- What are the forms of violence engaged in by the state, or by individuals acting on behalf of the state? -- Are forms of coercive hierarchy and oppression properly understood as forms of violence, structural or otherwise?  Are there non-physical forms of violence? -- What is the basis on which state representatives (that is, soldiers and police) are entitled to use deadly force, domestically or internationally?  How is this basis related to a general idea of a permission to use lethal force in self-defense? --How is state violence racially constructed and how does it shape racial formation? --How do state actors from judges to police officers participate in and embody state violence through the criminal justice system and in other legal and extra-legal mechanisms? ---How is state violence in the US shaped by the markedly lower degree of monopoly over violence wielded by formal government as compared to other modern democracies? -- How does violence (direct or structural) manifest itself within the criminal justice system?  Is violence essential to policing (can you have a police service rather than a police force)?  Is it essential to punishment (is punishment the equivalent of torture and thus unintelligible to the punished as Robert Cover thought, or can it be meaningful dialogic process as Anthony Duff has suggested)? -- What forms of violence are used by destination states in order to control immigration, especially by refugees fleeing violence in home states?  What alternatives to violence exist as means of regulating and channeling large flows of refugees? -- What alternatives to violence are there in classic state functions of domestic policing and international security? -- What features of political institutions might reduce reliance on direct, overt violence?  What features might make it harder for structural violence (assuming that is a meaningful category) to hide within state institutions? -- What have been the most effective ways for state subjects (citizens and residents) to induce a reduction in state violence?  
From the ban on minarets in Switzerland to the question of crucifixes in public schools in Italy and the English High Court ruling on Jewish identity in the case of admission to an orthodox Jewish high school, the sacred has emerged into secular democratic politics. The RPS international scholarly network will analyze the call by people of all faiths for greater recognition of religious norms by governments, legislatures, and schools.It is a joint initiative of iGov and the Robert Schuman Center. It has been made possible thanks to the support of the Partner University Fund, the Carnegie Foundation and the Social Science Research Council. The issue of Muslim integration in the West has become much more pressing over the last decade. This increasing visibility has had two simultaneous but contradictory effects. While it has led to a polarized debate between adherents of the “clash of civilization” thesis and their opponents, it has also raised interest about Islam and religion among the general public. Muslims’ presence in the West has resulted in an unexpectedly large number of issues that have been addressed differently in different nations, according to the particularity of the culture and history of each national context.  For example, while the Islamic headscarf been the center of debate in the public sphere in France since 1989, in the U.K. the discussion has centered primarily on the role of Islamic tribunals in shaping family law. Despite the differences between the ways in which Western governments have approached Muslims’ identities and needs, a common awareness has developed over the years on the necessity to take these issues seriously.  President Obama’s address to Muslims around the world in Cairo, last spring is a significant illustration in the general policy shift towards a more inclusive view of Islam in secular-liberal policy. These efforts have been complicated, however, by the difficulty in distinguishing between cultural and ethnic integration, on the one hand, and integration of religious norms (including Islamic norms) into Western politics and society, on the other. Governments, social institutions and even the public opinion in the West have had great difficulty accepting the demand among many Muslims in the West to be considered as a faith community, not an ethnic minority, and as a result have regularly implemented policies that fail to acknowledge the distinction. For example, second and third generation Muslims in the West tend to dissociate themselves from the cultures of their parents: they adopt western languages and many social and cultural patterns of the West. Most of them consider themselves as Western citizens. The believers and born-again among these new generations have increasingly recast Islam as a “pure religion” and built faith communities based on voluntary and free individual commitments. This acculturation of Islam is enforced by the phenomenon of conversions in both directions, and by secularization, which isolates religion from the surrounding culture. This trend manifests itself in a spectrum of new theological positions, from “liberal” reformed Islam to neo-fundamentalist rejection of political and cultural compromise. While many studies have documented the question of Islam and secular liberalism, previous studies have offered only a fragmentary vision of this complex issue, as well as the way it is a facet in a larger set of questions about the relation of religion to liberal democratic politics.  The originality of this project is threefold: It offers a unique opportunity to assemble the expertise of scholars working within different disciplines, countries, and universities and thus to propose a more comprehensive view of the issue at hand. Most studies of the interaction between religious norms and the secular public space rely on the distinction between the West and the ‘Muslim world.” This project, by contrast, is based on the assumption that Islam should be approached from the perspective of globalization, and the decoupling of religions and culture entailed in globalization. Instead of taking for granted the opposition between Islam and the West, scholars involved in this project are interested in questioning the relevance of this division and showing, for example, the similarity of debates that take place among Muslims based in Birmingham and those in Cairo, among Jews in England, or Christians in the United States. Most existing studies assume that there exists a fixed body of religious values, norms and traditions, which are either at odds or compatible with secular principles.  This project, on the contrary, proposes that the study of norms—religious or secular—is inseparable from the study of the very specific context in which these norms are produced, in other words that norms are not simple theories, but practices. This is why the project insists on gathering not only scholars studying the question of Islamic norms in the public sphere at the level of principles and theories (what is meant by notions such as public reason, public religion etc.) but also scholars who offer detailed sociological and ethnographical accounts of specific contexts in which norms emerge (study of trials, of media etc.). Confronted with this resurgence of new religious movements, Western societies have adopted different strategies to format them into a common paradigm. Different countries have used alternate standards to define what acceptable religious practices should be. This formatting effect might be done wither under an interventionists pattern of state control (France) or under the principles of a general right to the freedom of religion (USA) or according to the tenets of multiculturalism (Canada), but in all the cases it has had a comparable effect of aligning the new and minority religions under a common national paradigm. We will study how courts, lawmakers, and social workers contribute to this formatting. But we will also analyze how public debate, widely publicized polemics – such as the ban of minarets in Switzerland – media campaigns, and academic expertise contribute to produce specific paradigms.  Local actors, including Muslim imams and political activists, also play a role in either trying to resist social pressure or to accommodate their religious practices to these pressures. Liberal societies confronted alternate systems of thinking cannot force religions to reform or to become liberal, due to the principle of freedom of religion. However liberal societies have often intervened to regulate the public sphere, and even when accepting new practices outside the mainstream, these societies nonetheless play a powerful role in shaping and constraining religions into a formal and acceptable paradigm of what a religion should be. The Network on Religious Norms in the Public Sphere (RPS) will explore these paradigms in different contexts and work on the following issues, among others: Are there common patterns for integrating the personal practice of religion into public life? Who are the actors in this integration and what impact do they have on public policies? What do we mean by the term “Public Religion?” Is it a theological reform or just a recasting of religiosity? How are the changes taking place in Western societies reflected in other traditionally religious societies? How should we think of religion in the public sphere, in a secularized and pluralist environment? How do Western courts or administrative decisions (e.g., appointing Religious chaplains) contribute to shape the notion of “Western Religion?” How do national norms of citizenship and national norms regarding the relationship between religion and the state shape the adoption of different approaches to this issue? How is the integration of religion into public life understood differently across national contexts? Is this understood as a matter of liberty? Of equality? Of some other norm? What is the relationship between religion and culture? How does this relationship vary across the major religious traditions? What is distinctive about religion as a discourse of identity? Policy makers and the public will greatly benefit from the work of an international and interdisciplinary network of leading scholars who can answer these key questions about Islam in the public sphere and promote research-based policy and public education about this complex and nuanced issue. The transatlantic collaboration between UC Berkeley and the Robert Schuman Center provide ideal dual anchors for this network: each is itself a vibrant internationally pre-eminent and interdisciplinary research community; taken together scholars at both institutions can leverage their existing connections together scholars to create a truly global research project on a truly global set of issues. The Kadish Center for Law, Morality, and Public Affairs, at Berkeley’s Law School, provides already a focal point for scholars who work across the social and humanistic disciplines, and bridge both policy and theoretical research.  Moreover, the scholars at both institutions enjoy important connections to influential politicians, journalists, think-tanks and foundations that have shown an interest in the topic.  For more information please visit: