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The Nominee: Scalia, Garland, and the Supreme Court 

The death of Antonin Scalia removed one of the Supreme Court's most reliable conservative voices. Should the President be able to replace him now or should that decision be left to the winner of Novembers election? What difference does it make? We are joined by Notre Dame Law School Professors Richard Garnett and Jeffrey Pojanowski to answer these questions and discuss the Supreme Court of the United States.



Il Papa: The Church of Pope Francis 

The College of Arts and Letters radio program presents Lawrence Cunningham, John A. O’Brien Professor of Theology (Emeritus), Father Brian E. Daley, S.J., Catherine F. Huisking Professor of Theology, and Celia Deane-Drummond, Reilly Fellow and Director of the Center for Theology, Science and Human Flourishing to discuss Laudato Si', Pope Francis, and his Church. Audience members are invited to participate in Q&A at the end of the program. Tuesday, April 5; 7 p.m. in the Decio Theatre, DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Subscribe to the Vantage Point Radio podcast on iTunes and like us on Facebook! 


The Future of American Foreign Policy

The College of Arts & Letters radio program presents Michael Desch, Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science,Sara Sievers, associate dean of policy and practice at the University of Notre Dame’s new Keough School of Global Affairs, andJimmy Gurule, Professor at the Law School, with our moderator, Agustin Fuentes to discuss Russia's intervention in Syria, the Sustainable Development Goals, the rise of the Islamic State, and the future of American foreign policy. 


Are We Still Ready for President Drumpf? 

Outsiders Donald Drumpf and Bernie Sanders won dominating victories in their party’s primaries in New Hampshire.


So called party establishment candidates like Republicans Marco Rubio and Democrat Hillary Clinton finished so far behind the leaders that the outsiders must be regarded as leading, or at least legitimate, candidates for party nominations to run for President.  Officials in both parties are panicking because they believe, rightly or wrongly, that neither of these candidates can win a general election in November. If neither party fields an electable candidate, then what happens?

We are joined by our political panel of Professors David Campbell, Dianne Pinderhughes, and Luis Fraga, who earlier in September agreed that Donald Drumpf was not a serious candidate. After another victory in South Carolina, the United States must begin to seriously ask: are we ready for President Drumpf? 

Featured Guests: David Campbell, Luis Fraga, Dianna Pinderhughes 

Netflix and Chill: The Golden Age of Television?

The television industry has changed. With the increased popularity of on-demand streaming providers such as Netflix and Hulu, the


critical success of cable shows such as AMC’s Breaking Bad and Mad Men, and a growing binge-watching phenomenon, some say we have been ushered into the Golden Age of Television. 

This period of high-quality and well-written television programing features improved storytelling and visual aesthetics, and tremendous popular success stemming from the influential HBO shows The Sopranos, The Wire, and most recently, Game of Thrones. The rise of instant access to content on Netflix has given some shows cult followings, while also inspiring popular original programming from these providers, such as House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black on Netflix, and others on Hulu and Amazon. To spend a weekend ‘netflixing’ has even become part of the established lexicon. These changes in technology have made even HBO and Showtime offer streaming services, with the network channels not far behind. 

However, some debate whether we have reached the pinnacle of television programming. Despite the increased content and viewership, do show producers have new creative licensing, or are they still constrained by the industry standards of years past? Do these new shows of the golden age offer a gilded view of American and Western culture? Many critics lament the lack of racial, sexual, and gender diversity on today’s shows. On both network, cable, and streaming shows, are we still seeing the same gender norms, the same stereotypes, and the same love stories? Are we really even in a golden age of television?

Featured Guests: Chris Becker, Jason Ruiz, Darlene Hampton


Is the Iran Nuclear Agreement a Good Deal? 

On July 14 this year, the Obama administration joined China, Russia, the UK, Germany, and the European Union in signing the


Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, following nearly 2 years of intense negotiation.  The aim of the agreement was to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.  Iran agreed:

-to reduce or eliminate its stockpile of nuclear fuel and reduce its number of nuclear centrifuges, which are used for enriching uranium, by two thirds.

-to not build any new uranium enriching facilities for 15 years

-to provide access to its nuclear facilities for inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

In exchange for these agreements, the negotiating governments agreed to provide Iran with relief from economic and other sanctions.  According to American intelligence, the deal increases the “breakout time”—the time necessary for Iran to make enough material for a single nuclear weapon—from 2-3 months to one year. 

Reaction to the agreement in the international community and among arms control analysts was widely positive.  But there was opposition, including many prominent Republicans in the U.S., who tried unsuccessfully to cancel the agreement through legislation, and especially from the government of Israel.  Prime Minister Netanyahu called the deal a "capitulation" and "a bad mistake of historic proportions."The agreement also drew criticism from prominent former American politicians, administration officials, and diplomats.  Under the name United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI), nearly three dozen signed an open letter to companies considering doing business in Iran, arguing that it isn’t worth the risk. UANI points out that Iran is a totalitarian country with an appalling human rights record, a supporter of terrorism, and a force for destabilization in the middle east.  It argues that this agreement actually facilitates Iranian nuclear ambitions.

Featured Guests: Mary Ellen O’ConnellMike Desch, Bob Feferman

Where Did the Universe Come From? 

Scientific evidence suggests that the universe began in giant explosion, the Big Bang.  Christianity attributes the origin of


the universe to God.  Can we look to philosophy to determine why the universe exists?

Featured Guests: Gary Anderson, Chris Kolda, Khaled Anatolios, John O'Callaghan 

Mental Health: Irish State of Mind

In the last few years, universities in the United States are facing huge increases in the numbers of students with significant mental


health problems.  This goes far beyond stress over exams.  A recent survey of college counseling centers found that more than half of their clients have severe psychological problems.  These problems manifest themselves in the form of self-destructive behavior ranging from eating disorders to suicide.  There are 1100 suicides per year among college students.  It is now the second leading cause of death for students after traffic accidents. The conditions leading to this explosion of mental health problems are much bigger than the university environment.  Students and their families are well aware of the U.S. News and World Report list of the best colleges; the pressure to get into one of these elite institutions has become acute, especially in light of the economic downturn since 2009.  Young people who succeed in getting into an elite college face high expectations amidst a campus culture that seems to show everyone happy and successful no matter what struggles they may really be facing.  Some even suggest helicopter parenting, where concerned parents remain heavily involved in their children’s lives even in college places increased pressure on young people while robbing them of the opportunity to develop skills that might help them cope with life’s pressures.

Featured Guest: Maggie Skoch, Bill Stackman, Darcia Narvaez

Are We Ready For President Drumpf? 

Insurgent candidates from the left and right are pushing aside establishment favorites in both Republican and Democratic races.  Will this last?  What does it say about the parties and about the country?  Are we ready for President Drumpf? 


Featured Guests: David Campbell, Luis Fraga, Dianna Pinderhughes 

Does America have an Empire?


Between 15th and 20th centuries, European nations built vast colonial empires on every inhabited continent. These countries would see their military forces sent to places far removed from their national borders to fight wars in places like Afghanistan, Vietnam, Peru, and South Africa. Since World War II, those empires have collapsed and formerly colonized nations have won their freedom.  But in many ways the Unites States has stepped into the roles once played by European colonial powers.There are currently American military bases in some 150 countries where over 160,000 active duty American military personnel are stationed. America’s role in the world today only makes sense if we assume that the United States, like the European colonial powers of the past, has national interests everywhere and is entitled to establish and maintain its influence without regard for national borders.  Is this the case?  Does America, in fact, have an empire?

Featured Guests: Mike Desch, Patrick Deneen, Rahul Oka

Listen to the program here: 


Figuring Out the Arab-Israeli Conflict 


Since its founding in 1948, Israel has been in almost constant conflict with its Arab neighbors.  It suffered invasions in 1948, 1967, and 1973.  It has, in turn, invaded Egypt in 1956, Lebanon in 1982, and Gaza twice since ending its occupation of the territory in 2005.  In addition, there have been innumerable incidents involving Palestinian Arabs including two major uprisings or Intifadas.  As seemingly intractable struggles in places like South Africa and Northern Ireland have moved toward peaceful resolution, the Arab-Israeli conflict is as antagonistic as ever.  Is there a solution that all sides can live with?

Featured Guests: Gary AndersonAtalia OmerMichael Desch

This program was aired on WVPE on Sunday, February 1, 2015 at 12pm EST. Listen to the program here: 


What did Snowden Leak? The NSA Surveillance Program


In the spring of 2013, computer specialist and former CIA employee Edward Snowden leaked some 200,000 classified documents to the press which he had stolen using access as a National Security Agency contractor. The act has been called the most significant leak in US history. Is Snowden a traitor or a hero?  Are programs such as these insidious encroachments on privacy rights or just the price we have to pay for safety in this age of terrorism?  How much damage has there been to national security and to our privacy? 

Featured Guests: Mary Ellen O’Connell, Don Howard

This program was aired on WVPE on Sunday, February 8, 2015 at 12pm EST. Listen to the program here: 


The Economics of Healthcare 


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which Pres. Obama signed into law in 2010 and which is often referred to as “Obamacare”, represents the most significant reform of the American medical system since Medicare and Medicaid were initiated in 1965.  The act expands medical coverage through a variety of measures and mandates that most people purchase health insurance. As a result, it is consequently highly controversial and often criticized as a government takeover of medical care, an infringement of personal freedom, and a financial burden that will kill state and federal budgets.  Our question today is Can America afford universal health care?

Featured Guests: William Evans, Sarah Miller 

This program was aired on WVPE on Sunday, February 15, 2015 at 12pm EST. Listen to the program here: 


What does Religious Freedom Mean in the 21st Century? 


As of 1 August 2011, contraception was added to a list of preventive services covered by the ACA that would be provided without patient co-payment. Lawsuits against the mandate on grounds that it violates Constitutionally guaranteed religious freedoms have been filed by a number of institutions including Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic charity providing services for impoverished elderly people; the private company Hobby Lobby; and the University of Notre Dame.

What is the principle of religious liberty that is being invoked in these lawsuits?  What is the appropriate balance between public policy aimed at the common good and the rights of a religious minority to oppose it?  How should religious liberty be construed in the 21st century?

Featured Guests: Robert Audi, Rick Garnett, Vincent Munoz

This program was aired on WVPE on Sunday, February 22, 2015 at 12pm EST. Listen to the program here: 


How to Raise a Healthy Baby


There is almost no subject about which there is a greater overabundance of advice than child rearing.  Parents know it is a high-stakes endeavor and that they only get one chance to get it right with each child.  Further, research suggests the presence or absence of certain child rearing activities may have effects on language acquisition, depression, obesity, and other aspects of physical and emotional well-being that last long into adulthood.  There is an increasing awareness that human development is being misshaped by government policies, social practices, and public beliefs that fail to consider basic human needs.  What are the right things to do?  How do you raise a healthy baby?

Featured guests: Darcia Narvaez, Julie Braungart-Reiker, Jim McKenna 

This program was aired on WVPE on Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 12pm EST. Listen here:  


FOMO and Other Consequences of Social Media 


Since the turn of the 21st century, the phenomenon of social media has taken over the online world.  According to a recent Pew survey, 74% of online users frequent social media sites, including nearly 90% of young adults.  This translates into an enormous number of users.  Facebook, the most popular site, has over 1.25 billion users, 71% of all online adults. These social media sites allow us to stay in contact with our family and friends, but there are also consequences to all this online activity. These sites have become an obsession to many that distract us from the friends, family, and activities going on around us in the real world.  And many users complain of suffering from the anxious condition of FOMO:  fear of missing out.

Featured guests: Christine Becker, Kenneth Filchak , Stephanie Wulz

This program was aired on WVPE on Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 12pm EST. Listen here:  



Why Bother With Shakespeare?


Is Shakespeare worth reading across the globe, or should it be reserved for the Globe Theatre?

"Why study Shakespeare?" is a question that—like it or not— has crossed the mind of many a high school student. In the age of rap and hip-hop, the appeal of Shakespeare may prove as accessible as the the theory of quantum mechanics. This year marks the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. In this program, we sit down with three experts to discuss the relevancy of learning, reciting, and performing Shakespeare. In other words, Shakespeare in today’s society— to be or not to be? 

Featured Guests: Christy Burgess, Jesse Lander, Peter Holland

This program was aired on WVPE on Sunday, March 15, 2015 at 12pm EST. Listen here:  



Cheating and the Culture of Academic Dishonesty 


Cheating on college campuses seems to be everywhere. There have been recent cheating scandals at Columbia, Harvard, and the University of Maryland (among many others).  There have even been cheating scandal associated with the college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT.  Depending on which survey you want to look at, 60 - 98% of college students admit to cheating. But the problem is not confined to students.  Five universities have admitted to providing false data to US News/World Report for College issue.  Officials in the public school system in Atlanta provided falsified standardized test data to the state government.  Are we facing an epidemic of dishonesty?

Featured Guests: Susan Blum, Dan Meyers, Alex Coccia

This episode aired on WVPE HD Radio on March 22, 2015.


Easter Rising, Dublin 1916


On Easter Monday in 1916, Irish republicans began coordinated attacks on several key buildings in Dublin, raised their flag above the General Post Office, and declared a republic. It took nearly a week of fighting but British troops were finally able to regain control of the city. This seemingly futile effort set in motion a chain of events that led to independence for Ireland and the beginning of the end of the British Empire.  The centenary of the Easter Rising is being commemorated with a feature length documentary film produced by the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies.  

Featured Guests: Katie BrennanBriona Nic Dhirmada, Bob Schmuhl 

This episode will air on WVPE HD Radio on March 29, 2015.


What makes us Human?


What lies at the core of our humanity?  Are we the Hobbesian beast prominent in much current discourse?  the moral and altruistic animal increasingly proposed by some psychologists and animal theorists?  a suite of adaptations responding to environmental change heralded by evolutionary theorists?  the product of social, historical, and political contexts proposed by some cultural theorists?  Theologians say our humanity comes from our creation in the likeness of God.  What exactly is it that makes us human?

Featured Guests: Darcia Narvaez, Kenneth FilchakKenneth Filchak

This episode will air on WVPE HD Radio on April 5, 2015.


World War I: The War that Changed Everything 


World War I may not have ended all wars but it did permanently change the governance of the world. The war ended the empires of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Turkey, and Russia.  It crippled the economies of every European country including the victors in France and Great Britain.  And virtually everything that followed for the next century was in some way a result of the war from the communist takeover of Russia, the rise of fascism in Germany and Italy, the holocaust, the cold war, and the rise of the United States as a world power.  Once century on, join us today for a discussion of World War I, the war that changed everything.

Featured Guests: John Deak, Robert Norton, Sebastian Rosato

This episode will air on WVPE HD Radio on April 12, 2015. It will be posted right here, after broadcast.


Is Atheism Irrational? 


In the era of modern science, findings from physics, chemistry, biology, and most recently anthropology have uncovered physical causation and natural explanations for many phenomena, challenging religious beliefs once based on divine creation.  Some modern scientists, such as Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins, have followed Freud in attacking belief in God and showing nothing but contempt for religious believers.  Theistic philosophers have risen to this challenge, assuming a posture no less combative.  Their question isn’t “can religious belief be defended?”  Instead, they ask, “Is Atheism Irrational?

Featured Guests: Alvin PlantingaGary GuttingJonathan Marks

This episode will air on WVPE HD Radio on April 19, 2015. It will be posted right here, after broadcast.


The Nature of American Imperialism 

On a previous program, Does America Have an Empire?, we brought together a political scientist, a historian, and an anthropologist to debate whether the United States actually possessed a modern day empire.  To my surprise, the answer was ‘yes’ and the question was not even controversial.  The issues seemed to be less does “America have an empire?” and more the nature of that empire and where it’s taking us politically and culturally.  In fact, modern scholarship suggests that rather than America as an anti-imperialist nation, that our very national identity is intimately connected with empire building at home and an active supporting role in European colonialism.

Featured Guests: Jason Ruiz, Rebecca McKenna, Benjamin Balthaser

This episode will air on WVPE HD Radio on April 26, 2015. It will be posted right here, after broadcast.