Experts discuss civil wars & reconstruction at McCourtney Institute

Pennsylvania State University

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy‘s spring 2023 speaker series will focus on two themes that have taken hold in the political zeitgeist in recent year – racial justice and civil wars. The Institute will welcome scholars Peniel E. Joseph and Barbara F. Walter for lectures on these topics in the coming weeks.

Joseph is the Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values, founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, and associate dean for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion at the LBJ School at the University of Texas at Austin. He will present a lecture on his most recent book, “The Third Reconstruction” at 4 p.m. on March 23 at the Hintz Family Alumni Center. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Richards Civil War Era Center.

In “The Third Reconstruction,” Joseph offers a powerful and personal new interpretation of recent history. He argues that the racial reckoning of 2020 marked the climax of a third Reconstruction – a new struggle for citizenship and dignity for Black Americans, just as momentous as the movements that arose after the Civil War and during the civil rights era.

The McCourtney Institute has purchased 100 copies of “The Third Reconstruction” that will be available at the event.

Walter is the Rohr Professor of International Affairs at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California San Diego and one of the world’s leading experts on civil wars, violent extremism and domestic terror. She will present a lecture on her most recent book, “How Civil Wars Start,” at 4 p.m. on April 6 in the Sutliff Auditorium of the Lewis Katz Building.

Walter has spent her career studying civil conflict in places like Iraq, Ukraine, and Sri Lanka, but became increasingly worried about her own country in recent years, prompting her to write “How Civil Wars Start.” The book puts recent political violence in the United States in a broader global context of civil wars over the past 150 years.

The New York Times called the book, “”Required reading for anyone invested in preserving our 246-year experiment in self-government.” Copies of “How Civil Wars Start” will be available for purchase at the lecture.

Both events will be livestreamed by C-NET Centre County on the McCourtney Institute’s YouTube channel. Visit

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