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Professors to take part in roundtable talk
March 29, 2011Tweet
Four professors – each from different departments – will come together April 5 for a roundtable discussion of U.S. issues.
The panel features Alan Lockard, visiting assistant professor of economics; John McNulty, assistant professor of political science; Anthony Reeves, visiting assistant professor of philosophy; and Wendy Wall, associate professor of history. The discussion, which will take place from 5-7 p.m. April 5, in the Mandela Room, will be moderated by Donald Nieman, dean of Harpur College of Arts and Sciences.
“We are living in truly extraordinary times,” Lockard said. “The world is changing in dramatic ways before our very eyes. I believe that decades from now, we will look back at this time as a critical turning point, much as we now look back at the 1960s. This roundtable discussion is an opportunity to reflect a little about this exciting time while we are still in the thick of it.”
The event is the brainchild of two students: Taylor Arluck and Tara-Marie Lynch. The low youth vote in the 2010 midterm election gave the pair the impetus to organize a forum to “try to motivate students to become more active in their political community,” Arluck said.
“Our idea was to put on an event with faculty members within departments that are specific to the politics of the country,” said Arluck, a 19-year-old sophomore who is a double major in financial economics and the philosophy, politics and law program. “It’s going to be contemporary and about issues facing the nation. We want to keep this relevant because we have a student base we want to excite.”
Arluck and Lynch recruited the four professors and were “ecstatic” when Nieman, who serves as an advisor to Lynch, agreed to participate.
“We said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if the dean of Harpur College could moderate a conversation like this?’” Arluck said. “We brought it up to him and he loved the idea. That was a wonderful thing to have had happen.”
McNulty said he is impressed with the “interest, enthusiasm and passion” of the student organizers.
“As the Chinese curse goes, we are living in interesting times, and there is much to be discussed and pondered about the import of current events in the short term and even more in the long term, when this generation of students will be assuming leadership of our turbulent world,” he said.
Wall predicts that a wide array of issues will be addressed at the forum, ranging from domestic politics, such as the rise of the Tea Party, to foreign policy, such as wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to economic inequality.
“Mark Twain is often credited with saying ‘History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.’ Whether or not he actually said this, there’s a lot of truth in the line,” Wall said. “I think we can learn a lot about many contemporary issues - for instance, the rise of the Tea Party, the growing income gap in the U.S., the roots and legacies of American interventions abroad and the need to balance national security against civil liberties - by looking back at historical precedents.”
Arluck, who has reached out to groups such as the Student Association, College Republicans and College Democrats about attending, said he hopes the discussion draws 150-200 people. Although students are the target audience, the event is open to faculty, staff and administrators, Arluck said.
Arluck would like students to leave the Mandela Room with a “better understanding of current issues from different ideological perspectives.”
“One of the reasons Tara and I asked these four faculty members (to take part) is that some of them don’t see eye to eye on certain issues,” he said. “We’ll run the gamut of opinions rather than just saying ‘I concur.’ We wouldn’t want that.”
For Reeves, the issues and format of the roundtable are “pressing and important.”
“Democracy requires more than the mere tabulating of votes,” he said. “Public control of political power requires a public space where citizens can engage in meaningful discourse and serious, rational critique of policy.”