January 26, 2017 by Thea Singer
“We find the following headlines in The New York Times: ‘World leaders face a new era in Washington.’ ‘Slamming media, Trump advances two falsehoods.’ ‘Defiant yet jubilant voices flood U.S. cities as women rally for rights.’ ‘Racial progress is real. But so is racist progress.’
“So much to talk about.”
Thus began Uta Poiger, dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, in introducing the interdisciplinary panel discussion “Transitions in the U.S. Democracy: The Presidential Inauguration, Policies, and Protests” on Tuesday evening in the Curry Student Center Ballroom.
The panel provided critical insights into democratic institutions and our responsibilities as citizens in light of the transition from the Obama to the Trump administration. The varying perspectives of the four panelists provided rich context for understanding how we got where we are and what might come next. The panel comprised Stephen Flynn, professor of political science; Margaret Burnham, professor of law; Carole Bell, assistant professor of communication studies; and Jonathan Kaufman, professor of journalism.
Moderator Rebecca Riccio, director of the Social Impact Lab, highlighted some of the themes the speakers would address: “the fragility of political institutions, the changing media industry, the changing norms of civil discourse, global power shifts, growing inequality.”
“I encourage you not to think of them as isolated phenomena but to try to visualize how they are related to each other,” she told the students, faculty, and staff who packed the room. “Find the levers you can push to affect democracy.”
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