Nicholas Xenos, professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst, has been awarded a grant of $225,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a Sawyer Seminar entitled “The Universal Basic Income: History and Theory of a Utopian Desire.” The seminar seeks to examine what it means to live a “flourishing human life” by placing UBI in a context of the future of work, unemployment, advances in automation, robotics and machine intelligence and its historical and cultural origins. Xenos is also the director of the Amherst Program in Critical Theory.
The seminar will study various ongoing experiments with UBI in Finland, South Africa, Canada and the United States while also considering the deeper political, social, philosophical, ethical and economic questions that arise from it.
More specifically, the seminar will explore the theorization of UBI within political and literary theory including utopian and socialist traditions; comparative historical analysis of debates over UBI in the aforementioned countries, comparative economic theology and contemporary discussions about the necessity of UBI in high technology and silicon valley circles.
The co-organizing principal investigators for the project are:
- Professor James K. Boyce (Economics, UMass)
- Assistant Professor Toussain Losier (Afro-American Studies, UMass)
- Professor Jord/ana Rosenberg (English, UMass)
- Associate Professor Adam Sitze (Comparative Literature, UMass, and Law, Jurisprudence
- and Social Thought, Amherst College)
About the Sawyer Seminars
The Mellon Foundation's Sawyer Seminars were established in 1994 to provide support for comparative research on the historical and cultural sources of contemporary developments. They have brought together faculty, foreign visitors, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students for intensive study of subjects chosen by the participants.
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