Other Programs & Activities

The Havens Wright Center is involved in a wide range of other programs & activities, including sponsoring and planning a variety of public lecture series, conferences and workshops, and other community events.

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The Havens Wright Center puts on a wide variety of conferences, some of which are strictly academic in character and aimed at a campus audience, and others which are more public in character and designed for both the campus and off-campus communities. These have included:



The Real Utopias Project

Attending to the creative tension between practical reforms and utopian alternatives, former Havens Wright Center director Erik Olin Wright launched the Real Utopias Project, a series of working conferences dedicated to exploring a wide range of proposals and models for radical social change. Rather than focusing on either grand, abstract visions of a new social order or piecemeal reforms, the basic organizing principle of the project is to combine serious normative discussions of the underlying principles of different emancipatory visions with a pragmatic analysis of the institutional designs required to make those visions a reality. Each conference in the series is organized around a provocative, innovative manuscript advancing a proposal for radical, yet realizable social change. A group of scholars from around the world is invited to write essays engaging the ideas of this manuscript. The essays, which have ranged from detailed critiques of the argument advanced in the original manuscript to additional proposals for refining or modifying institutional designs, are circulated among participants and discussed at the conference. After the conference, the papers are revised in light of these discussions and the author(s) of the original manuscript write a concluding essay. The collection of papers is then published in the Real Utopias Project Series by Verso publishers, London.

Award for Lifetime Contribution to Critical Scholarship

Every few years, the Havens Wright Center bestows the Award for Lifetime Contribution to Critical Scholarship on an individual whose work and career has demonstrated a distinguished and extensive record of scholarly achievement in the critical tradition of social thought as well as a strong commitment to social justice. To date, recipients have included:

  • Frances Fox Piven (2004)
  • Howard Zinn (2006)
  • Noam Chomsky (2010)
  • Eduardo Galeano (2013)
  • Barbara Ehrenreich (2014)
  • Tariq Ali (2018)
  • Nancy Fraser (2019)

The Labor & Working Class Studies Project

The Labor & Working Class Studies Project (LWCSP) is organized in collaboration with UW faculty and students, as well as representatives of community and labor organizations concerned with the rights and living standards of working people in Wisconsin and beyond. The Project encompasses a wide array of activities, including among others an annual Speakers Series, cultural events, and a biennial Labor and Working Class Studies Conference, as well as other campus-community-labor dialogues, aimed at addressing issues of concern to labor and working class people. The Project is also a member of the Working Class Studies Association and hosted the WCSA’s National Conference in June 2013.

Writer-Activist Fellowship

The Writer-Activist Fellowship brought social justice writer-activists to Madison for a semester-long residency, during which time they are expected to write, participate in local activities, and build ties with local social justice activists and organizations. The program was designed to provide a rare opportunity to activist public intellectuals to share the lessons and insights of their work, both through a writing project that would distill those lessons and through establishing and/or deepening relationships with local activists who would benefit from those lessons. This fellowship was made possible by the financial support and collaboration of the Link Friendship House (where fellows lived for the duration of their stay).


Co-sponsored Events

The Havens Wright Center also frequently brings speakers, including non-academics, to deliver lectures on a wide variety of topics of interest to both the campus community and the broader public. Very often, these lectures are organized in cooperation with other campus programs and community organizations. Examples include As’ad AbuKhalil, Ali Abunimah, Belquis Ahmadi, Tariq Ali, Gilbert Ashkar, Dan Clawson, Laila Farah, Robert Fisk, Malcolm Gladwell, Amira Hass, Cheri Honkala, Ching Kwan Lee, Robert Pollin, Ann Powers, Guenther Roth, Leslie Salzinger, and Jane Slaughter, among many others. The Havens Wright Center has also been actively involved with community groups, social movements, and non-profits in Madison and beyond, co-sponsoring conferences, workshops, and community events.