Paul H. Robinson to Discuss “Trigger Crimes and Social Progress: The Tragedy-Outrage-Reform Dynamic in America”

University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor to Deliver the Shirley G. Wassong Memorial Lecture on April 24

​Hartford, Connecticut, April 14, 2017 –

What: Paul H. Robinson, Colin S. Diver Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and one of the world’s leading criminal law scholars, will discuss “Trigger Crimes and Social Progress: The Tragedy-Outrage-Reform Dynamic in America” as he delivers the Shirley G. Wassong Memorial Lecture in European and American Art, Culture, and History. Robinson will address whether a crime can make our world better. Crimes are the worst of humanity’s wrongs, but, oddly, they sometimes do more than anything else to improve our lives. Certain “trigger crimes” spark a dynamic of tragedy, outrage, and reform. Why do some tragedies produce broad outrage while others, often of a very similar nature, do not? Why do some outrages produce reform while others, often with greater claims to outrageousness, do not? The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception in Hamlin Hall will immediately follow.

When: Monday, April 24, at 7:00 p.m.

Where: McCook Auditorium on the Trinity College campus, 300 Summit Street, Hartford, Connecticut


Background: Robinson is a prolific writer and lecturer. He has published articles in law reviews, lectured in more than 100 cities in 33 states and 27 countries, and had his writings appear in 13 languages. A former federal prosecutor and counsel for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Criminal Laws and Procedures, he was the lone dissenter when the U.S. Sentencing Commission promulgated the current federal sentencing guidelines.

Robinson is the lead editor of Criminal Law Conversations (Oxford, 2009), a debate involving more than 100 scholars from around the world, and the author of Intuitions of Justice and the Utility of Desert (Oxford, 2013), Distributive Principles of Criminal Law (Oxford, 2008, also in Spanish and Chinese), and Structure and Function in Criminal Law (Oxford, 1997, also in Chinese). He recently completed two criminal code reform projects in the United States and the first modern Islamic penal code under the auspices of the U.N. Development Programme.

The Shirley G. Wassong Memorial Lecture Fund, which supports an annual lecture on the themes of European and American art, culture, and history, was established in 1996 in loving memory of Mrs. Wassong by friends, family, and her husband, Joseph F. Wassong, Jr., Trinity Class of ’59. The annual lecture features members of Trinity’s faculty and guest scholars in alternating years. The lecturers are from various academic disciplines, and their topics range from antiquity to the present day. This year’s event marks the 20th Wassong Memorial Lecture.

For more information, please contact the Trinity Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies at TIIS@trincoll.edu.