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O'Connor Lecture

The Annual Daniel Patrick O'Connor Memorial Lecture exists to promote the principles of scholarship, research, and volunteerism in the service for social justice. The Daniel Patrick O'Connor Memorial Lectureship Endowed Fund is made possible through generous contributions from Margaret O'Connor, Michael and Kathie O'Connor, and their friends.


Lives in Limbo, 2013

2013 O'Connor Lecture 

Roberto Gonzales: "Lives in Limbo: Undocumented Young Adults and the Conflicting Experiences of Belonging and Illegality."

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 at 7:00 p.m

Richard F. Celeste Theatre, Cornerstone Arts Center, Colorado College

Roberto Gonzales is a qualitative sociologist whose research focuses on the ways in which legal and educational institutions shape the everyday experiences of poor, minority, and immigrant youth along the life course. He is recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts on undocumented immigrant youth and young adults. Over the last decade he has been engaged in critical inquiry regarding what happens to undocumented immigrant children as they make transitions to adolescence and young adulthood. Since 2003 his West Coast Undocumented Young Adults Research Project — in Los Angeles and Seattle — has collected in-depth qualitative data on the adolescent and adult experiences of undocumented young adults who have lived in the U.S. since childhood. This research has helped scholars, policymakers, and educators gain a better understanding of their educational trajectories, how they come of age, and how a segment of these young people engages in civic and political activity.

He is currently engaged in two projects aimed at better understanding the effects of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program: the National UnDACAmented Research Project, a longitudinal study to assess the effects of widened access among undocumented immigrant young adults; and a companion study to assess DACA implementation in schools and community based organizations. He is also carrying out a comparative study of immigrant youth in the U.S. and the UK. His work is being supported by MacArthur, Irvine, and Heising-Simons Foundations. Gonzales serves on the editorial board of Social Problems and the City of Chicago Office of New Americans Advisory Board. In addition to top social science journals, his work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, TIME, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, The Chronicle of Higher Education, CNN, and NPR. He is currently completing a book manuscript based on his 10 year study of undocumented young adults in Los Angeles.

Prior to his faculty position at Harvard, Gonzales was on faculty at the University of Chicago and the University of Washington. He received a B.A. from Colorado College, an M.A. at the University of Chicago, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California - Irvine.

2012 O'Connor Lecture -- Josh Fox: "Fracking the Social Contract"

Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 7:00 p.m., Armstrong Hall Auditorium

Environmental activist and writer/director of the award-winning movie "Gasland," Josh Fox brings his passion to Colorado College with his presentation "Fracking the Social Contract" on Wednesday, November 14th. 

"Gasland" focuses on communities in the United States impacted by natural gas drilling and, specifically, the method of horizontal drilling into shale formations known as slickwater fracking.  The film, nominated in 2011 for an Academy Award for Best Documentary, brings into the public realm another specter of collusion between private enterprise and government. 

Josh is currently finalizing release of his forthcoming film "Gasland2" which continues his assertions of political interference with sustainable energy wisdom and of our public mistrust of the systems intended to protect us.  He concludes that fracking “does not just contaminate the water supply, but also government.  All the money that's spent, all the influence that's peddled: this is the contamination of the political system."

Colorado has one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world.  Its residents have a vested interest in understanding Josh’s claims before permitting lawmakers to pass further legislation allowing fracking in their own back yards. 

Past O'Connor Lectures

2011 -- Reza Aslan
2010 -- Jessica Jackley
2009 -- Alan Weisman
2008 -- Naomi Klein
2007 -- Bill McKibben
2006 -- Jim Wallis
2005 -- Thomas Frank
2004 -- Amy Goodman
2003 -- Nancy Folbre
2002 -- Nancy Fraser
2001 -- Kevin Danaher
2000 -- Jay MacLeod
1999 -- Randall Kennedy
1998 -- Jody Kretzmann
1997 -- William Julius Wilson
1996 -- Gary Snyder
1994 -- Vandana Shiva
1993 -- Richard Moore
1992 -- Robert Bullard

Daniel Patrick O'Connor

Dan O'Connor was a student at Colorado College in the fall of 1990 and winter of 1991. A committed social activist, he participated in student campus organizations concerned with environmental issues in ethnic communities as well as other social justice struggles. He participated in the student protests against Battle Mountain Gold's strip mine and cyanide leach mill in the foothills above the Chicano land grant community of San Luis. He also participated in the "alternative spring break" program of the College's Center for Community Service in the San Luis Valley. Dan was committed to workplace democracy, environmental justice, cultural diversity, and social equality.

"I knew that I wanted to change the world at least a little bit.... I didn't believe that any political system could create a good society. 'Change has to come through the heart, not through the mind,' I would say. I wanted to affect people's hearts. I began to paint more and tried to raise my own life to an art form. By this, I mean simply to be as just as possible in my relationships with other people.... I now believe that change can only come through a synthesis of the heart and the mind. I continue to feel an ethical code is necessary to live by, but now I include in this code, political activity.... I am compelled to hit the streets and make my voice heard."

--Daniel Patrick O'Connor, 1991