The Presidency and Illness: Should The Health Of Candidates For High Office Be An Issue?

Prof. William Ayers, M.D.

Tuesday, October 4, 11 and 18: 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the Eagleton Affair, wherein the Senator from Missouri had to be removed from the Democratic ticket as the running mate of George McGovern because of previously unreported health issues. Although not a new issue, the furor resulted in a fresh focus on the inclusion of health data in the profile of candidates for high political office. This course will incorporate a selected, chronological review of incidents of ill-health in incumbents and candidates in an effort to develop a rational framework for decision-making by the electorate.

Course Format: Three 1.5-hour PowerPoint presentations with Q & A. Suggested readings will be provided.

Course Outline:

I. Day 1- Background

A. A Proposal

B. A Scathing Critique

C. All Things in Moderation

II. Day 2- Selected Case Studies

A. Cleveland

B. Wilson


D. Eisenhower


F. Reagan

III. Day 3- A Framework for a Rational Approach

A. The 2 x 2 Matrix

1. Known/Hidden X Candidate/Incumbent

William Ayers, M.D.

Emeritus Professor of Medicine

William R. Ayers, M.D., FACP, graduated from Georgetown College with a B.S. in Biology (cum laude) in 1957 and an M.D. (cum laude) in 1961. After an internship at Emory University (Grady Memorial Hospital), Dr. Ayers entered the US Public Health Service and was assigned to the New York State Health Department, Albany, New York where he joined the on-going, long term epidemiology study of coronary artery disease risk factors at the Albany Cardiovascular Health Center. He simultaneously was appointed a Cardiology Fellow at the Albany Medical College of Union University. Upon completion of his military obligation, he finished residency training at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Washington, D.C., and did a Pulmonary Disease Fellowship there.

In 1968, Dr. Ayers joined the USPHS Medical Systems Development Laboratory which was subsequently transferred to the George Washington University Department of Clinical Engineering. That Laboratory was responsible for the development of the fiduciary software programs for automated EKG and spirometric curve analysis as well as Automated Multiphasic
Screening. Dr. Ayers resigned from MSDL as Acting Chairman of the Dept. of Clinical Engineering to join Georgetown’s Department of Internal Medicine and the Dean’s Office Staff of John Rose, M.D., as Assistant Dean for Curriculum in 1972.

After twenty-four years at Georgetown, Dr. Ayers retired as Sr. Associate Dean for
Undergraduate Medical Education and Associate Professor (with tenure) in Internal Medicine in 1996. He then joined the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates as Vice President to help complete the development of the Clinical Skills Examination and assist in its implementation. In 1999, he was appointed Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Dean at Georgetown.

He is board certified in Internal Medicine, a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a recipient of numerous Medals and Citations from Georgetown and the John Carroll Medal from its Alumni Association. He served on committees of the AMA and the AAMC including the visitors of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. In 1983-84 he was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow on Capitol Hill. His avocations include the Sport of Kings, Sherlock Holmes, the American Civil War, and the Health of the Presidents and Candidates for High Office.

Religious Pluralism

Prof. Chester Gillis

Wednesday, October 12, 19, 26, and November 2nd: 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

This course examines the relationship between Christianity and the other major world religions. It addresses the philosophical and theological issues and conflicts that arise in a religiously pluralistic environment. This includes a historical examination of the Christian disposition towards the other religions, the problem of conflicting truth claims, and the nature of salvation in the religions. The course argues that no one religion, including Christianity, has an exclusive claim to being salvific or liberating, challenging Jesus’s words in the Gospel of John: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.”

The course describes the historical and contemporary condition of religious pluralism, examines the responses to pluralism (theological theories of exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism), and argues for a plurality of revelation that puts religions on equal footing while acknowledging significant differences in faith claims.

Chester Gillis
Professor of Theology and Religious Studies

Chester Gillis is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. He is the initial holder of the Amaturo Chair in Catholic Studies and the founding director of the Program on the Church and Interreligious Dialogue at Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. At Georgetown, he served as Department chair and Dean of Georgetown College, and as Provost at St. Louis University.

He is the author of A Question of Final Belief: John Hick’s Pluralistic Theory of Salvation (1989), Pluralism: A New Paradigm for Theology (1993), Roman Catholicism in America (1999), Catholic Faith in America (2003), and editor of The Political Papacy (2006). The second edition of his Roman Catholicism in America was published by Columbia University Press in 2020. He is co-editor of the Columbia University series Religion and Politics.

He received Ph.B. and Ph. L. degrees in Philosophy and M.A. in Religious Studies from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and his Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Chicago.

International Migrations

Prof. Susan Martin

Thursday, October 6, 13, 20, and 27: 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

Worldwide international migration is a large and growing phenomenon, with more than 281 million people now living outside of their home countries for extended periods. Understanding the complex dynamics behind international migration is essential to improved policies and programs to address the multiple causes and consequences of these movements of people. This course provides an overview of international migration numbers and trends, causes of population movements, the impact of international migration on source and receiving countries, and policy responses to population movements.

During the first session, we will discuss numerical trends in migration and displacement worldwide during the past 50 years; the different forms of human mobility (labor migration, family reunification, refugee movements, etc.) seen today; and the economic, social, political, demographic, environmental and other drivers of these movements. The second session examines U.S. and international laws, policies, and institutions for managing movements of people. The third session examines the integration of immigrants in destination countries and their reintegration to source countries. The final session explores the nexus between migration and other transnational issues, including international peace and security, economic and human development, global health, and environmental change. We will also discuss recent efforts to increase international cooperation in managing migration while protecting the rights of migrants and refugees as well as host communities.

Susan Martin

Donald G. Herzberg Professor Emerita of International Migration

Susan Martin is the Donald G. Herzberg Professor Emerita of International Migration in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She was the founder and director of Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of International Migration and chaired the Thematic Working Group on Environmental Change and Migration for the Knowledge Partnership in Migration and Development (KNOMAD) at the World Bank. Prior to joining Georgetown’s faculty, Dr. Martin was the Executive Director of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, which was mandated by statute to advise the President and Congress on U.S. immigration and refugee policy. She received her Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Martin has authored or edited a dozen books and numerous articles and book chapters. She serves on the boards of Rutgers University, Jesuit Refugee Service USA, and the Center for Migration Studies.

Racism and the Bible

Prof. Anthony Tambasco

Tuesday, October 25; November 1, 8, and 15: 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

The Bible and Racism: Uses, Misuses, and Divergent Interpretations of the Bible over Race

If any issue has come to the fore in our time, it is that of racism. Christians need to deal with this issue and biblical texts provide the foundations for any comprehensive religious approach to it. At the same time, principles of modern biblical interpretation need to be considered, as well as the backlash that has developed to such modern approaches. This course will survey methods of interpretation as applied especially to the issue of racism, trying to show the common ground between modern historical criticism and an evangelical reading of texts. Hebrew Scriptures will be considered as well as the New Testament.

  • October 25 – Bringing the Signs of the Times to Our Reading of the Bible – Methodical considerations in Bible interpretation, the role of presuppositions, and bringing the insight of contemporary movements in the circle of interpretation of biblical texts.
  • November 1 – Doing a Better Job of Reading the Bible on Racism – Paying attention to limitations within the Bible and retrieving overlooked traditions
  • November 8 – New Applications to Racism of Familiar Teachings – Looking at biblical texts that can form the foundation of anti-racism.
  • November 15 – Another Way to the Same Conclusions – A survey of the evangelical approach to the Bible, its methods and conclusions regarding racism, and comparisons with historical-critical methodology.

Anthony Tambasco

Professor Emeritus, Department of Theology and Religious Studies

Anthony Tambasco is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Georgetown and was chair of the department for six years. He also taught in Graduate Liberal Studies and was Associate Dean in the School of Continuing Studies for five years. He authored five books and edited three on biblical topics, including the Bible, for ethics and social justice.

“Indispensable Nation: America’s World Role; Past, Present, and Future”

Prof. Robert Lieber

Wednesday, November 9, 16, and 23: 2:00 – 3:30 PM

Since 1945, the United States has played a unique role in creating and sustaining a rules-based world order. At its peak, that position of global leadership led to the U.S. being cited as the “Indispensable Nation.” That role, and America’s active engagement abroad, has been praised and criticized, but is it still relevant to foreign policy in the 21st Century world?

In this course, Robert Lieber delves into the subject by asking three questions based on his new book (Indispensable Nation) published in September of this year. First, Is America still the world’s indispensable nation? Second, if so, in a world where great power conflict has reemerged and the U.S. faces greatly empowered rivals, especially China, does it retain the capacity to play that role? In particular, in view of deep-seated changes in its politics, society, and culture, does the U.S. possess the necessary domestic basis for such a role? And third, if America no longer possesses that ability, what are the likely consequences, not only for the fate of other countries and regions, but for its own security, interests, and values?

Robert J. Lieber

Emeritus Professor of Government and International Affairs

Robert J. Lieber is an Emeritus Professor of Government and International Affairs at Georgetown, where he served as Government Department Chair and Interim Chair of Psychology and taught for 38 years before retiring in September 2020. He is the author or editor of eighteen books on international relations and U.S. foreign policy. His latest book is, Indispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in a Turbulent World (Yale University Press, 2022). His articles and essays have appeared in leading U.S. and foreign journals. He also has served as an advisor to several presidential campaigns, to the State Department, and to the drafters of U.S. National Intelligence Estimates.

Dr. Lieber earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin and Ph.D. at Harvard and has taught at Harvard, Oxford, and the University of California, Davis. He has held fellowships from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Ford Foundations, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Smith Richardson Foundation, and has been a recipient of Georgetown University’s Career Research Achievement Award and the Hepburn-Shibusawa Distinguished Senior Lectureship at the University of Tokyo. In addition, he has been a Visiting Fellow at the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques in Paris, Brookings Institution in Washington, and Fudan University in Shanghai.

Into the Woods: Reconsidering Fairy Tales through Sociological and Psychological Lenses

Prof. Suzanne Bronheim

Thursday, November 10, 17, and December 1: 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

What we now call fairy tales began as stories told by men to other men and often had dark themes.
They ultimately morphed into stories for children to teach them life lessons, but the underlying stories reflect difficult social conditions of the time and deeper psychological realities. In this course, we will examine both the contexts and meanings of classic fairy tales (not the sanitized Disney versions) to understand their enduring and universal appeal.

Suzanne Bronheim, Ph.D.

President, Georgetown University Association of Retired Faculty and Staff (GUARFS)

Dr. Bronheim is a clinical psychologist and is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor of Pediatrics who served for 43 years in the Center for Child and Human Development. In that time, she worked with and on behalf of children, youth, and adults with special needs. Her work within the National Center for Cultural Competence afforded her an appreciation of how societal conditions impact people’s realities.