A Brief Introduction to the Upcoming Winter Issue by Dean Berman

The Annual Shoen Lecture Series, published in the current Journal Winter Issue, features articles written by our first two Shoen Lecture Speakers. Our third annual Shoen Speaker, New York University’s Professor Jeremy Waldron  will publish his article along with commentary from scholars around the country in our Winter 2011-2012 Issue.

Scholarly discourse, at its best, is always about dialogue. If we think of any great discovery, from scientific breakthroughs to voyages to new lands, to emerging ideas of law and governance, those innovations have always arisen through sustained efforts of multiple people over multiple years and sometimes even generations. Indeed, I believe it is safe to say that no great idea is ever the product of one mind alone. We all stand on the shoulders of giants. As Victor Hugo so eloquently wrote in describing the great cathedrals of Europe, in some fundamental sense time is always the architect and the community is the builder.

The Edward J. Shoen Leading Scholars Series was designed with that ideal of dialogue and reasoned discussion in mind. Each year, we bring to the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law a leader on some important topic of law, policy, or jurisprudence. We then invite scholars from around the country to comment on the lecture. The scholarly debate is then published in the Arizona State Law Journal and added to the world of ideas.

This issue of the Law Journal brings together the first two sets of Shoen lectures and responses. Both Paul Robinson and Theda Skocpol are among the most interesting and provocative thinkers alive today, and each made an important intervention into legal and political discourse with their presentations. The scholarly discussions memorialized in this issue accordingly fulfill the highest ambitions of academic debate: reasoned, thoughtful discourse on major challenges facing our world.

It is my hope that as the years progress the Shoen lectures and responses will continue to maintain that standard and contribute to the great human discussions of this world, discussions that inevitably know no beginning and no end.