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The College of Arts Sciences

Series examines 'The Making of the President 2016'

By: Linda B. Glaser,  Cornell Chronicle
Wed, 08/31/2016

As the unprecedented presidential campaign continues, questions multiply: Have we entered a new age of politics? Should we be hopeful or fearful? What does it all mean?

To address these questions, the Belnick Presidential Forum and the Program on Ethics and Public Life (EPL), an interdisciplinary program based in the philosophy department, are collaborating on a series this fall titled “The Making of the President 2016: Issues and Processes, Hopes and Fears.” The five events in the series take place on Mondays, 4:30-6 p.m., in Lewis Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall, except for the Oct. 31 panel, which will be held in the Rhodes•Rawlings Auditorium, Klarman Hall.

“We want to deepen the discussion of the vitally important issues raised in the campaign, which the candidates address in shallow ways,” says Richard Miller, director of EPL and professor of philosophy.

“There are things going on in this election we haven’t been able to grasp,” adds co-organizer David Bateman, assistant professor of government. “We wanted people who could talk about the presidential campaign in a historical context.”

The series consists of three lectures organized by EPL and two panels organized with the support of the Belnick Presidential Forum, a program held every four years to get students involved in the election. The forum honors the research and teaching of emeritus faculty Walter LaFeber and Theodore Lowi and is jointly organized by the government and history departments and supported by a grant from Mark Belnick ’68. Both panels will emphasize discussion with the audience after short presentations by the panelists.

The first panel, on Oct. 3, will examine race, social movements and the election. “There is an enormous amount of student interest in issues of race, which seems to have moved on a separate track from the election but the two have interacted,” says Bateman. “We felt we needed a forum for these needs to be discussed.”

On Oct. 31, a panel of historians and political scientists will discuss the presidential elections in the final days of the campaign, assessing the stakes and significance of what has already proved a surprising and acrimonious election season.

EPL has organized lectures by three speakers for the “Making of the President 2016” series, supported by the Riger-Potash Family Fund:

Sept. 12: Larry Jacobs (University of Minnesota) will assess the meaning of current revolts against the establishment and look at the extent to which Trump support is based on an exclusionary attitude of what it means to be American.

Oct. 17: Andrew Bacevich (Boston University) will address the issue of assertive patriotism and how it should it be evaluated: What makes America great in the world, and what is the difference between candidates?

Nov. 14: Jennifer Lawless (American University) will reflect on the outcome of the election, drawing on her expertise in the sources and significance of American alienation from politics and the role of women in politics. This talk is jointly supported by the Belnick Presidential Forum and the Riger-Potash Family Fund.

In addition, the “Making of the President 2016” series will interact with courses involving weekly informal discussions among undergraduates at the Hans Bethe and Carl Becker houses, “Discussions of Justice,” which EPL has organized. The courses will address questions of the election using input from the lectures.

“We did this with the inequality series last semester and it was a great forum for students to engage with moral, policy and empirical questions, led by experienced graduate students,” says Miller. “The students were very interested in large questions of political philosophy and very fruitfully connected them with current political issues. In the spring, there will be further EPL lectures on issues facing the new president, connected with that semester's ‘Discussions of Justice’ courses, as well.”

Schedule of events

“The Making of the President 2016: Issues and Processes, Hopes and Fears”

All events are on Mondays, 4:30-6 p.m.

  • Sept. 12: “The rise of Donald Trump and the struggle for ‘Americanness,’” Larry Jacobs (University of Minnesota); Lewis Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall 
  • Oct. 3: “Race, social movements and the election” panel with Daniel Gillion (University of Pennsylvania), Michael Tesler (University of California, Irvine) and Christina Greer (Fordham University); Lewis Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall 
  • Oct. 17: “The debate over uses of American power, in the Middle East and the world at large,” Andrew Bacevich (Boston University); Lewis Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall.
  • Oct. 31: “The election in historical perspective,” with Daniel Galvin (Northwestern University), Julia Azari (Marquette University) and Stephen Skowronek (Yale University); Rhodes•Rawlings Auditorium, Klarman Hall.
  • Nov. 14: “Lessons from the outcome about women in American politics and Americans’ alienation from politics,” Jennifer Lawless (American University); Lewis Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall.

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.