Publications by Year: 2013

Sen, Maya. 2013. “Courting Deliberation: An Essay on Deliberative Democracy in the American Judicial System.” Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy 26.Abstract

Many legal theorists and political philosophers – among them John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, Amy Gutmann, Dennis Thompson, and Joshua Cohen – believe that decision making through deliberation is a normative ideal that yields both better laws as well as a positive transformation in its participants. They further have assumed the judiciary is perhaps best equipped to realize this kind of “deliberative democracy,” and that the courts can effectively provide an example for other, less deliberative branches of government to follow. This essay argues, however, that judicial deliberation is both more complicated than is assumed by these theorists and also embodies a kind of deliberation different in nature than the one we would expect in a deliberative model. Indeed, contributions from social science suggest that judges are strategic (and oftentimes political) actors, and that their “deliberations” are more like akin to bargaining than reasoned exchanges. In addition, the products of judicial decision making – the courts’ opinions – often fail to reflect true deliberative reasoning. Thus, the judiciary might in many ways be less deliberative than its sister branches. This is not to say that judicial processes cannot be modified to become more deliberative – and therefore more normatively desirable -- but it does suggest that the assumption that the courts provide a deliberative model for other decision makers to follow might be based on a romanticized view of judicial processes, rather than on the way judges actually behave. This conclusion has, moreover, strong implications for the feasibility of deliberation as a decision making mechanism.

King, Gary, and Maya Sen. 2013. “The Troubled Future of Colleges and Universities.” PS: Political Science and Politics 46 (1): 81-89.Abstract

The American system of higher education is under attack by political, economic, and educational forces that threaten to undermine its business model, governmental support, and operating mission. The potential changes are considerably more dramatic and disruptive than what we've already experienced. Traditional colleges and universities urgently need a coherent, thought-out response. Their central role in ensuring the creation, preservation, and distribution of knowledge may be at risk and, as a consequence, so too may be the spectacular progress across fields we have come to expect as a result.

Introduction and article for a symposium for PS: Political Science and Politics. Other symposium participants are Henry E. Brady (UC-Berkeley), Michael Laver (NYU), Nannerl O. Keohane (Princeton), Virginia Sapiro (BU), and John Mark Hansen (Chicago).

king_sen_symposiumintro.pdf king_sen_symposiumarticle.pdf
King, Gary, and Maya Sen. 2013. “How Social Science Research Can Improve Teaching.” PS: Political Science and Politics 46 (3): 621-629. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We marshal discoveries about human behavior and learning from social science research and show how they can be used to improve teaching and learning. The discoveries are easily stated as three social science generalizations: (1) social connections motivate, (2) teaching teaches the teacher, and (3) instant feedback improves learning. We show how to apply these generalizations via innovations in modern information technology inside, outside, and across university classrooms. We also give concrete examples of these ideas from innovations we have experimented with in our own teaching.