Debra Satz lecture: "Learning as Equals"
November 18, 2005

Philosopher Debra Satz (Stanford) visited UWM on November 18, to deliver her paper “Learning as Equals: What is Wrong with Inequality in K-12 Education?” Originally scheduled for an appearance in Spring 2005  under the Center’s previous research theme, Geographies of Difference, the presentation seemed to fit quite well with the rest of this year’s Center programming under States of Autonomy. Professor Satz’s paper certainly sparked the interest of the UWM community, as Curtin 118 quickly overflowed with an impressively interdisciplinary audience of faculty and students from departments such as Art History, Economics, Education, English, History, and Philosophy.

In an engaging presentation, Satz examined two different kinds of arguments that have been made against our unequally funded and resourced K-12 education. One argument condemns inequalities in educational resources as a consequence of a commitment to an ideal of equality of opportunity applied to education. The other argument presents its case primarily in terms of adequacy. Satz drew out the differences between these two approaches and pointed out their respective strengths and limitations. She then indicated why she believes the adequacy approach to be more promising—although not without weaknesses, because mere “adequacy” of educational outcomes is likely to be inadequate for democratic purposes. She proposed instead an amended view of adequacy she calls democratic adequacy. Satz’s paper provoked a good deal of discussion, immediately following the lecture as well as, more informally, at a reception at the Center.

In addition to her Center talk Professor Satz participated in a lively meeting of the Center-supported Feminist Theory research workshop, which discussed two of her articles on women’s labor issues: “Markets in Women’s Reproductive Labor” (Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1992) and “Markets in Women’s Sexual Labor” (Ethics, 1995). Last but not least, Professor Satz graciously agreed to be interviewed by UWM philosophy graduate student Ashley Falzetti as part of the Center’s Curricular Project. We hope to be able to present the results of this encounter on our website soon.


click here for the full Center newsletter (Winter 2006) in PDF format




Center for 21st Century Studies

Merry Wiesner-Hanks

Center for 21st Century Studies
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201 USA
tel: 414-229-4141; fax: 414-229-5964; email:



  Last updated 6/21/06 by RvD&NW