New Topics is a collaboration of the New College Foundation and New College of Florida. To mark New College’s 60th anniversary, this year’s virtual series features noteworthy alumni whose New College experience prepared them for lives of note and careers of exceptional impact.

The series runs October through March and will be presented via the Zoom platform. Each lecture will begin at 5pm Eastern time on the date listed, and tickets are $10. Reservations can be made below or by calling the New College events hotline at 941-487-4888. Tickets are free for New College students, faculty, staff and alumni. However, you procure your tickets, know that reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance. This will allow us time to send you your Zoom link before the event.

These events are sponsored, in part, by Sarasota Magazine.

To read more about each event, scroll on. Or, you can skip straight to the ticket purchasing section.

“Privacy and Accountability: Not a Contradiction”
with Dr. Anita L. Allen

Thursday, October 1
Dr. Allen will explore how ideals of freedom and moral responsibility for personal conduct can be squared. The pandemic of COVID 19 and increased state and industry surveillance raise this issue acutely.

Anita L. Allen (’70-’74) is the Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and professor of philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. Allen is a global thought leader in the fields of privacy law, data protection and ethics. She is the chair of the board of the Electronic Privacy Information Center and has received EPIC’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 30 years of pioneering privacy scholarship and advocacy. Allen is one of the first African-American women to receive a doctorate in philosophy and the very first in history to be elected president of the American Philosophical Association. A prolific scholar, Allen has written and spoken about a wide range of topics, including privacy law, the philosophical basis of privacy, bioethics, women’s rights, and race relations. These issues mark the fault lines of American society—and explain the seismic shift in our law and culture.

“Understanding the 2020 Presidential Election: What’s Going to Happen? What Does it Mean?”
with Eric Schickler and Alexis Simendinger 

Thursday, October 15
This panel discussion, moderated by Susan Burns (’76-80’), editor-in-chief of Sarasota Magazine, will provide an overview of what political science can tell us about the 2020 election—what to expect, what to watch for on election night, and how to think about the results.

Eric Schickler (’87-’91) is the Jeffrey & Ashley McDermott Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of six books, including Investigating the President: Congressional Checks on Presidential Power (2016, with Douglas Kriner) and Racial Realignment: The Transformation of American Liberalism, 1932-1965, winner of the Woodrow Wilson Prize for the best book on government, politics or international affairs published in 2016. Schickler was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2017.

Alexis Simendinger (’75-’81) is an award-winning journalist who has covered the White House, Congress, national affairs, and presidential politics for respected, nonpartisan news outlets in Washington since 1986, reporting on five presidents, including Donald Trump. In 2017, she was inducted into the Society of Professional Journalists “Hall of Fame” in Washington and saluted for more than two decades of excellence in reporting about the nation’s capital. Simendinger has also served on the board of the New College Alumni Association and was a member of the board of New College Trustees. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and earned her B.A. from New College.

“Challenge and Response: Facing Hard Choices in a Time of Economic Crisis”
with William Dudley

Thursday, November 12

Thanks to the pandemic, the United States plunged from a record-breaking economic expansion to a severe recession. What choices do we need to make to reverse that trend and secure our economic future?

William Dudley (’71-’74) is a senior research scholar at Princeton University’s Center for Economic Policy Studies. He served as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 2009 to 2018 and was also the vice-chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee.

In 2019, Dudley spoke about our nation’s record-breaking economic expansion. Shortly after, the pandemic cut that short. With breathtaking speed, the United States economy has plunged from its recent heights to the deepest recession in decades. The American economy is sick. What is Dudley’s prescription to bring the patient back to health? What choices must we make to jump-start a recovery? How long will it take to turn things around? Depending on our choices, Dudley will define the best-case and worst-case scenarios.


“Inclusion at any Cost? When New College was ‘Home’ to a White Nationalist”
with R. Derek Black, Allison Gornik, and James Birmingham

Wednesday, January 27

At a moment when colleges around the country, including New College, are doubling down on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion, what can we learn from the turmoil and angst experienced 10 years ago, when New College students discovered that among their number was a young leader in America’s white nationalist movement? Campus administrative leaders made the decision to resist student calls to expel Derek Black, despite his role as a site moderator for Stormfront, America’s first “White Pride” website, created by his father and white nationalist movement leader, Don Black.

Was this the right call? Should the college congratulate itself for Black’s eventual renunciation of the white nationalist values he grew up with? When a community member’s political beliefs are perceived to be a clear and present danger to the community, what is the appropriate response for the community and its leadership?


R. Derek Black
(’10-’13) was raised in a leading family of the American white nationalist movement. His father founded the first online white power community, Stormfront. From an early age, Black participated in media interviews, gave talks around the country, won public office, and ran a daily radio program in support of his family’s ideology. . At New College, he was condemned by the campus community, and over several years came to engage with anti-racist ideas. He ultimately condemned his family’s ideology in 2013 and has spoken out over the past several years against the reality of white supremacist political activism. He is currently a doctoral student in history at the University of Chicago, researching the medieval and early modern origins of racist hierarchies and ideologies. Black is the subject of the book by Eli Saslow, Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist

Allison Gornik (’10-’14) was raised outside Cleveland, OH, and while attending New College of Florida, learned about Derek Black’s white supremacist advocacy much the same as every other student, and condemned him in order to prioritize students who felt threatened. Her suitemate, Matthew Stevenson, however, knew Derek and soon invited him into their dorm for his weekly Shabbat dinner. Although Gornik initially avoided the dinners with Derek present, she eventually returned and the two of them started to talk outside of Stevenson’s events. . Partly through many private and often painful conversations between the two of them, Derek eventually conceded that his ideology was not sound and advocating it was actively harmful, leading him to renounce it. Gornik’s role in this story is a primary focus of Eli Saslow’s book Rising Out of Hatred. Currently, Gornik is completing a postdoctoral fellowship after recently graduating with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology; she specializes in working with children and families in both clinical and research settings.

James Birmingham (’06-’10) is a South Florida native and first-generation college graduate. He worked for the Office of Volunteerism and Service Learning as a VISTA at NCF when word got out that Derek Black was a current student. He became a predominant and active voice in challenging Black’s presence on campus, and led critical school-wide conversations on what having a prominent white nationalist at New College meant, detailed in Pulitzer Prize winner Eli Saslow’s Rising Out of Hatred. Now an ex-Ph.D. student and craft bartender, his current project is building towards opening a worker-owned leftist bookstore cafe/social center. He is on the board of directors of the Institute for Anarchist Studies, co-founded the decade-long running All Power to the Imagination! conference at New College, is a founding member of the Black Trowel Collective, and organizes with the North American Anarchist Studies Network. He currently resides in Sarasota with his partner Tiffany, a dog named Waffles, and a cat named Grits. . The panel will be moderated by Dr. Bill Woodson, Dean of Outreach and Engagement and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at New College.

“Reflections on a Congressional Career; Lessons for Today’s Politics”
with Lincoln Diaz-Balart

Thursday, February 18

Reaching an agreement is often a difficult task, but in a democracy, lasting progress is only possible through dialogue. What makes true dialogue possible?

Lincoln Rafael Díaz-Balart (’72-’76) is a Cuban-American attorney, consultant, and human rights advocate. He represented South Florida in the Florida Legislature from 1986 to 1992, and in Congress from 1993 to 2011. He authored and passed significant pieces of legislation in Congress, such as the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act of 1997 (NACARA), which granted legal residency to hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the U.S. who were previously at risk of deportation.

Díaz-Balart founded the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) in 2003, which he still serves as chairman. CHLI provides internships and leadership training in our nation’s capital to college students. After leaving Congress in 2011, he founded El Instituto La Rosa Blanca (The White Rose Institute), which stands in solidarity with the pro-democracy movement in Cuba. He currently is a practicing attorney based in Miami.


“Cybersecurity and Civil Liberties”
with Jennifer Granick

Thursday, March 18

The ability to speak, organize, and create was revolutionized by the Internet, but technology has also been an engine for both public and private surveillance, opening up opportunities for civil liberties abuses and discrimination. To mitigate those abuses, individuals have been demanding improved cybersecurity measures, and so the political playing field has shifted to a battle over encryption. In this talk, Jennifer Granick (’86-’90) will explore the current debate and legislative proposals and offer tips on how people can protect themselves and get involved.

Granick is the ACLU’s surveillance and cybersecurity counsel. Granick is well known for her work with intellectual property law, free speech, privacy law, surveillance, and other things related to computer security. Senator Ron Wyden described her as an “NBA all-star of surveillance law.” Granick fights for civil liberties in an age of ubiquitous surveillance and unaccountable digital monopolies. She took that fight to the courtroom against the heartless scapegoating of internet activist, Aaron Swartz, and educated the public with such books as American Spies: Modern Surveillance, Why You Should Care, and What to Do About It. To many Americans, these topics seem arcane and academic. But, legally and socially, the choices we make on these issues will determine whether democracy will survive the digital age. Granick has a gift for making these choices easy to grasp. Now more than ever, we need to hear her lucid voice.

We are grateful for our 2020-2021 New Topics media sponsor
You can purchase tickets using the form below, by calling the New College events hotline at 941-487-4888, or by emailing Please be sure to make your reservations at least 48 hours in advance. This will allow us time to send you your Zoom link before the event.
All events will begin at 5pm Eastern time.

The fair market value of the goods and services provided at these lectures has been valued at $10 per person; as such, no portion of your ticket purchase will be tax-deductible.