Six years ago, Smithsonian Magazine was among those decrying the death of public intellectuals (“the egghead is dead”). Where are today’s Ralph Waldo Emersons or James Baldwins or Susan Sontags, they mourned. The article went on to offer a fascinating insight. History shows that “public intellectuals always emerged when the country was sharply divided: during the Civil War, the Vietnam War, the fights for civil rights and women’s rights.”
In this moment of ever-deepening divide, it gives me great pleasure to announce that the Center for Progressive Reform welcomes five prominent academics to our network. The toll for the death of expertise may have been premature; long live public intellectuals!
The contribution of the Center’s Scholars to the public debate stands in welcome relief to the reductionist and self-serving narratives so prominent in the media and legislative chambers. We offer legal and empirical integrity. Our public voice rests on legal, technical, and due process traditions.
We are grateful to our new class of Scholars who devote their scholarship to the preeminent challenges of today. They offer expertise in energy policy, environmental law, and environmental justice. They bring senior-level experience in environmental planning and regulatory affairs and are steeped in academia as well as public policy.
We are proud to welcome:
- Alyse Bertenthal, Assistant Professor of Law, Wake Forest Law
Alyse’s research focuses on the relationship between law and culture, including how cultural, legal, and scientific practices affect the construction and implementation of environmental law; the intersection of law and language; and how legal expertise is generated and performed. She attended the University of Chicago Law School and Yale University and received a Ph.D. in the interdisciplinary field of criminology, law and society from the University of California, Irvine.
- Sharon Block, Professor of Practice and Executive Director, The Center for Labor and a Just Economy at Harvard Law School
Sharon recently served as the acting administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in President Joe Biden’s White House and previously held key labor policy positions across the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. In the Obama administration, she was the principal deputy assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Labor and senior counselor to Secretary of Labor Tom Perez. In 2012, President Obama appointed her to serve as a member of the National Labor Relations Board. Block writes frequently on labor, employment, and administrative law topics.
- Michael Méndez, Assistant Professor of Environmental Planning and Policy, UC-Irvine
Michael has more than a decade of senior-level experience in the public and private sectors, where he consulted and actively engaged in the policymaking process. This included working for the California state legislature as a senior consultant, governmental relations advocate, a member of the California State Mining & Geology Board, as vice-chair of the Sacramento City Planning Commission, and as an advisor to a California Air Resources Board member.He is author of Climate Change from the Streets and researches climate-induced disasters and social vulnerability. He has degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and California State University, Northridge (CSUN).
- Lemir Teron, Assistant Professor, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Lemir’s research focuses on energy policy, community forestry, and environmental justice. He holds a Ph.D. in energy and environmental policy from the University of Delaware, an MS in urban policy studies from Georgia State University, and a bachelor’s degree in social science education from the University of Georgia. He has won awards for championing diversity and for teaching excellence. His work has appeared in numerous publications. and he is a member of the Urban Affairs Association, the Black Doctoral Network, and the Association of Environmental Studies & Sciences.
- Shelley Welton, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Law and Energy Policy, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and Kleinman Center for Energy Policy
Previously, Shelley taught administrative law, energy law, environmental law and policy, and climate change law at the University of South Carolina School of Law. Her scholarship has appeared in numerous publications, and she has worked as the deputy director of Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and clerked for two judges. She received her Ph.D. in law from Yale Law School, her J.D. from New York University School of Law, a master of public administration in environmental science and policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and her B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.