Allegheny Sophomore Attends Democracy Forum in Greece

It’s one thing to have classroom discussions about the challenges facing democracy.

It’s quite another to have those same discussions in the country where democracy was born.

Allegheny College sophomore Jesse Tomkiewicz was one of 23 students representing 11 different countries who participated in the Athens Democracy Forum in Athens, Greece, in September. The goal of the annual forum, hosted by The New York Times, is to bring students together from around the globe at the American College of Greece to discuss the challenges facing democracy that year. Students work together in teams to write a white paper on the chosen challenges, this year, climate change and inequality.

The different backgrounds, experiences, viewpoints and ideologies of the participants — and how those differences shaped the discussions — was eye-opening, said Tomkiewicz, a political science and philosophy double major from rural Freeport, Pennsylvania.

“It was an incredibly diverse group,” he said. “That was probably the most valuable part of the experience, talking to people from all over the world.”

Being with like-minded students interested in talking about and shaping the future of democracy — in Athens, of all places — was exhilarating, he said.

“This is about going to a place where I’m with a dream team,” of fellow participants, Tomkiewicz said. “These individuals are not just really bright; these are some of the best students I’ve been around. It was truly intellectually challenging.

“I benefitted more than anyone at the conference because I (had) never left the U.S. Here I focus on the judicial process and political theory. I had no experience in international politics. … I learned more in those nine days (in Athens) than I would have taking a semester’s worth of classes.”

The trip was one of many firsts, including Tomkiewicz’s first plane ride out of the country. He swam in the Aegean Sea, attended a speech by former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, and stood at the top of the Acropolis.

“It was enchanting being on top of the Acropolis, knowing that people like Socrates had physically been there,” he said. “I’m from a country where our history is a few centuries. We’re talking about a place that goes thousands of years back. Being in a place with that kind of history, that was really something.”

Tomkiewicz is already heavily involved in campus and local politics — he’s the vice president of Allegheny’s College Democrats and a field director for the Crawford County Democratic Party — but left the conference wanting to do more to further democracy, particularly for voters in rural places like his hometown.

“There has to be grassroots, bottom-up efforts” to address the challenges facing rural voters, Tomkiewicz said.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny College Professor to Speak on Governing Rural America

Allegheny College Assistant Professor of Political Science Zachary Callen will speak on “Governing Rural America: Political Change and Limited Resources’” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, in the Campus Center Room 301/302. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Callen will discuss the problems with which rural communities struggle, which range from deindustrialization and depopulation to the opioid epidemic. His presentation will address the ways in which local government in rural locations struggle to provide services and grow their economy. Based around a series of interviews with leaders from a small rural community, the project tries to grapple with the question of how communities decline gracefully.

The address is part of the 2017-18 Karl W. Weiss ’87 Faculty Lecture Series, which features professors from various departments representing the diversity of scholarship at Allegheny.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Zachary Callen (Karl W. Weiss ’87 Faculty Lecture Series)

Allegheny College Assistant Professor of Political Science Zachary Callen will speak on “Governing Rural America: Political Change and Limited Resources’” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, in the Campus Center Room 301/302. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Callen will discuss the problems with which rural communities struggle, which range from
deindustrialization and depopulation to the opioid epidemic. His presentation will address the ways in which local government in rural locations struggle to provide services and grow their economy. Based around a series of interviews with leaders from a small rural community, the project tries to grapple with the question of how communities decline gracefully.

The address is part of the 2017-18 Karl W. Weiss ’87 Faculty Lecture Series, which features professors from various departments representing the diversity of scholarship at Allegheny.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny’s Center for Political Participation Featured on Civic Engagement Education Website

Allegheny College’s Center for Political Participation (CPP), under the direction of Political Science Professor Brian Harward, has been chosen as the first “civic engagement center” to be featured on a special website that focuses on teaching civic engagement.

Elizabeth C. Matto, associate research professor and director of the Center for Youth Political Participation and Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, reached out to Harward as a result of the success of the CPP and the new Law & Policy Program.

The website is meant to serve as a companion to the volumes “Teaching Civic Engagement: From Student to Active Citizen” and “Teaching Civic Engagement across the Disciplines.” On the site, visitors can find examples of how the authors included methods of teaching active citizenship into their curriculum and can reference such items as sample syllabi, class projects and assessments.

The site also is intended to be an ongoing resource for educators and will be updated with how-to guides for incorporating methods of instruction to foster active citizenship, spotlights of civic engagement research and programming, and interactive platforms that will allow visitors to make comments and offer suggestions.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Mattiace Attends Research Workshop

Professor of Political Science Shannan Mattiace attended a research workshop on September 21 and 22 sponsored by the Kellogg Center for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame and the Latin American Research Review (LARR) on Societal Responses to Criminal Violence in Latin America with co-authors Guillermo Trejo and Sandra Ley.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Wesoky Publishes Book Examining Political Humor in China

Professor of Political Science Sharon Wesoky recently published a book, co-edited with Kingfai Tam of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, titled “Not Just a Laughing Matter: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Political Humor in China (Springer Humanities).” The book, a product of a multi-year collaboration, grant from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, and international conference in Hong Kong, collects the work of 12 international scholars to examine the role of multiple genres of political humor in China from the late Imperial period to the present day. Wesoky also recently was invited to contribute a piece to the inaugural “Women and Gender in China” blog. Her article, “(Dis)continuities in Chinese feminisms: navigating local and global” can be found at https://www.wagic.org/blank-2/2017/08/29/Discontinuities-in-Chinese-Feminisms-Navigating-Local-and-Global.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Harward Presents at European Consortium for Political Research

Brian M. Harward, the Robert G. Seddig Chair of Law and Policy, and his co-authors presented their paper “Competition over Issue Agendas: Presidential Signing Statements and Congressional Oversight” at the annual meeting of the European Consortium for Political Research in Oslo, Norway on September 6.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

PBS’s Heffner on ‘Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Age’

The “incivility of bigotry” has resulted in a society unable to come together across difference, Alexander Heffner said during a keynote lecture at Allegheny College on Thursday.

“The incivility of bigotry does not mean the incivility of purely racism or xenophobia or nativism. The incivility of bigotry is the incapacity of our society to rationalize and reason with disparate political objectives and constituencies,” Heffner, host of “The Open Mind” on PBS, said to 100 students, faculty, staff and community members gathered in the Tillotson Room of the Tippie Alumni Center.

“When you have a bigoted attitude or mindset it precludes you from having an exchange that is thoughtful and deliberative and fruitful in what it yields.”

Heffner has covered American politics, civic life and Millennials since the 2008 presidential campaign.  He founded and edited SCOOP08 and SCOOP44, the first-ever national student newspapers covering the 2008 campaign and the Obama administration.

“The Open Mind” is billed as a “thoughtful excursion into the world of ideas across politics, media, technology, the arts and all realms of civic life,” and is the longest-running public broadcast in the history of American television.

Heffner’s lecture, “Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Age: The Quest for a Post-Partisan Citizenship,” was hosted by the President’s Office, the Center for Political Participation, Journalism in the Public Interest, and the Provost’s Office.

The 2016 presidential primary campaign epitomized “the overall bigotry” that mars our discourse, Heffner said. Increasingly, we see each other not as Americans but as Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, he said.

That view results in a “refusal to disagreeably agree,” to compromise, Heffner said.

“There is a deliberative process that is supposed to engender disagreement debate and, ultimately, some declaration: the Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of Human Rights, whatever that may be, those declaration of joint values are now quite absent in the overall political picture of our country.”

In the political arena, the inability to compromise leads to dysfunction and a lack of bipartisan support, Heffner said.

“There are no common priorities,” he said. “If there are no common priorities, then the game is tit for tat. The game is a battle of rhetoric. … (American politics) has always been hardball, but it’s not always been a sport that has objectives for partisan, political or individual gain as opposed to collective gain.”

That’s not to say there’s no hope. Heffner’s visit included a breakfast workshop and classes with students, which he noted in this speech.

“There were young people at your college,” he said, “who were quite energized and proudly considering their responsibility in upending the cycle of incivility.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Mattiace Presents Paper on Indigenous Resistance

Professor of Political Science and International Studies Shannan Mattiace presented her paper (with co-authors Guillermo Trejo [Notre Dame] and Sandra Ley [CIDE, Mexico City]) “Indigenous Resistance to Criminal Governance in Mexico” via Skype at the Latin American Studies Association Meetings in Lima, Peru, April 28-May 1. She presented a version of this paper at the Faculty Lecture series on campus in March.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

PBS’s Heffner Talks Civil Discourse

Alexander Heffner, host of PBS’s “The Open Mind,” will deliver a keynote lecture at Allegheny College on Thursday, Sept. 7 at 12:15 p.m. The lecture, “Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Age: The Quest for a Post-Partisan Citizenship” will be held in the Tillitson Room of the Tippie Alumni Center at 12:15 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Heffner’s visit will also include a classroom visit and a breakfast workshop with students on the the engagement of young people in the political process.

Heffner was a special correspondent for PBS’s “Need to Know” chronicling the Millennial vote in 2012. He founded and edited SCOOP08 and SCOOP44, the first-ever national student newspapers covering the 2008 campaign and the Obama administration, and taught a civic education/journalism seminar in New York City public school classrooms.

His writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today, Newsday and RealClearPolitics, among other leading newspapers and magazines. He has been interviewed about politics, education and stories in the news by PBS, C-SPAN, CNN and the BBC, among other national and local broadcast venues. He was political director and correspondent for WHRB 95.3 FM and host and managing editor of “The Political Arena,” a Sunday afternoon public affairs broadcast.

PBS’s “The Open Mind,” billed as a “thoughtful excursion into the world of ideas across politics, media, technology, the arts and all realms of civic life,” is the longest-running public broadcast in the history of American television.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research