From the Director's Desk

By Rebecca L. Spang

Friday, October 9, 2020

Dear Friends and Alumni/ae of LAMP,

The leaves are turning, the days are shorter, the apples are at their best. It must be fall! Fall has always been my favorite season—as somebody who has voluntarily spent her entire life in educational institutions, I just love the excitement of “Back to School” season—but this is for sure the strangest one I have ever experienced. We have come back to campus, but the IMU, Wells Library, and even Ballantine Hall remain largely empty. The beauty and size of the Bloomington campus have for decades made it a glorious backdrop for the research, teaching, and learning that happens here, but this semester we treasure our outdoor spaces for new reasons: as the safest places we have for study, quiet socializing, even movie nights. How grateful we are to have this space!

Of course, the various public-health precuations required to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic are hardly the only challenges we face. The past few years have made it urgently obvious how far we as a society have to go before we achieve equity, justice, or even democracy. Bloomberg recently reported that the 50 richest Americans have as much wealth as the 165 million poorest ones; that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (who pays himself an Associate Professor’s salary, but still owns 11% of Amazon stock) has seen his fortune increase by more than 50% in this year alone. He’s now “worth” $188.5 billion.

So there could be no better time to teach my new course, LAMP-M 303, “Business and Inequality.” We talk (across Zoom, of course) about how various kinds of inequality interact, about how the doctrine of shareholder primacy threatens the American dream, and about what business can do to make the world a better place. Next week, we’re talking about Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev’s research on the failures of “diversity training,” and what might work better in its place. One perspective is never enough!

This weekend is marked “Homecoming” on the IU-Bloomington calendar. We’d love to invite you to “LAMP House” on 516 N Fess (we moved here in 2015) for a big homecoming reunion. Unfortunately, this year there will be no big parties, no parades, not even a football game. But IU remains home, LAMP is a very special part of it, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without the loyalty, enthusiasm, and generosity of our alumni/ae. Thank you for all you do. And please, please, be in touch!

Sincere best wishes,

Rebecca L. Spang
Professor of History and Director of LAMP