25th Series

Summer Lecture Series 2022: Addressing the Challenges to Our Democracy

Thursdays, July 7 - August 11
9:00 am - 11:30 am
Spaulding Auditorium - Hanover, NH
& Livestreamed

Click here to view our series mailer!


Series Ticket: $125; Member Series Ticket: $100 (In-person or livestream)
Single Day Ticket: $25 (to register, scroll down to specific date)
Students: Free admission


Never, since 1860, has there been a more necessary time to address the challenges to our democracy. As the United States lurched toward the Civil War, we were confronted with many of the issues that once again rear their heads; a country hopelessly polarized; newspapers filled with untruths; the Electoral College, giving extra power to small, rural states; and possibly most significant, slavery, often called "America's Original Sin" about to bring the nation to war with itself and make race an issue that we would have to contend with up to this very day.

July 7: The Crisis of American Polarization

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Americans became ideologically polarized in the late 1960s and have grown more so since. Party polarization followed in the 1990s, but the spread did not stop there. Polarization is now enveloping everyday lives. This pervasive polarization has led to an ideologically-fortified class structure, less trust in government and in authorities generally, greater political intolerance, and diminished patriotism–in short, a crisis in American democracy.

James CampbellJames E. Campbell is a UB Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University at Buffalo, SUNY and will join emeritus ranks at the end of July. He has taught American politics at UB since 1998. He is the author of four books and more than 80 articles and book chapters. His most recent book, Polarized: Making Sense of a Divided America (Princeton University Press, 2016), was selected as one of Choice’s Outstanding Academic Titles. Prior to joining Buffalo’s faculty, he taught at the University of Georgia and Louisiana State University and served as an APSA Congressional Fellow and as a program director at the National Science Foundation.

July 14: Why America Needs a New Electoral System

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America’s electoral system is a global outlier. No other democracy uses primaries to select its political candidates; our two-party system is among the world’s strictest; and the average lawmaker represents vastly more constituents than those in nearly any other country. Meanwhile, antidemocratic extremism in American politics is escalating, and arguably with more success than in other advanced democracies. This lecture will explore how the two phenomena are related: how outlier features of the U.S. electoral system are aggravating antidemocratic extremism—and how certain reforms may help to turn the tide.

Grant TudorGrant Tudor is a Policy Advocate for Protect Democracy where he develops and advocates for a range of reforms among federal policymakers to shore up our democratic institutions. He was prior a senior manager of political reform at Harvard’s Institute for Strategy & Competitiveness, and also served as a Visiting Fellow with UNRWA, a UN refugee agency, and with the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, a group that mediates armed conflict. Grant received his MBA from Harvard Business School and MPP from Harvard Kennedy School where he was a Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership.

July 21: Redefining the Meaning of Race in the 21st Century

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This talk explores how racial differences are used to preserve white supremacy. In this lecture, Carter demonstrates not only the way race conditions the way non-dominant groups, particularly Black Americans experience citizenship, but illuminates our nation’s commitment to white supremacy as an organizing principle in ways that threaten the long-term health of our democracy.

Niambi CarterDr. Niambi Carter is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Howard University. She is the author of the award-winning book American While Black: African Americans, Immigration, and the Limits on Citizenship (2019, Oxford University Press) which offers a critical examination of African American public opinion on immigration. She is a 2021-2022 Woodrow Wilson Fellow and working on a new project examining U.S. Haitian refugee policy (1973-2021).   She is an expert on African American politics, with an emphasis on public opinion and political behavior.  Her work has appeared in numerous publications such as Journal of Politics, National Review of Black Politics, Political Psychology, The DuBois Review, and The Washington Post.

July 28: Warning: American Media May be Detrimental to Democracy

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As the American public is confronted daily by a flood of disinformation – content intended to mislead – some people may be surprised to learn that mainstream news media are contributors to this problem. Not only do digital newsrooms disguise paid content to look like news articles, but new research from Dr. Michelle Amazeen suggests that this modern form of advertising influences the real journalism that appears next to it. Amazeen’s talk will inform attendees about the origins and evolution of this media practice, how it affects audiences and the industry, and what the implications are for an accurately informed democracy. By better understanding the role of news organizations in perpetuating disinformation, the public can more critically consider the news content they consume.

Michelle AmazeenMichelle A. Amazeen (Ph.D., Temple University) is Director of the Communication Research Center and an Associate Professor in the Department of Mass Communication, Advertising, and Public Relations at Boston University. Amazeen’s research program examines mediated persuasion and misinformation, exploring the nature and persuasive effects of misinformation and efforts to correct misperceptions. She employs a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods to yield results with practical applications for journalists, educators, policymakers, and consumers who strive to foster recognition of and resistance to persuasion and misinformation in media.

August 4: The Decline of Democracy

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Democracy is under attack around the world. According to Freedom House, global democracy has been on the decline for 15 years - even longer in Europe and Eurasia. Mike Smeltzer will explore how the Kremlin’s recent invasion of a sovereign, democratic Ukraine painfully demonstrates that the global expansion of authoritarian rule and the proliferation of antidemocratic “alternatives” to liberal democracy pose an existential threat not just to Ukraine, but to democracy and freedom around the globe. 

Mike SmeltzerMike Smeltzer is Freedom House’s Senior Research Analyst for Europe and Eurasia and the project lead for Nations in Transit, the democracy watchdog’s annual survey of democratic governance from Central Europe to Eurasia. His commentary and writing on Russia’s domestic political developments, rising authoritarianism in Eurasia, and democratic decline in Eastern Europe have appeared in the LA Times, Foreign Policy, US News and World Report, NPR, and Radio Free Europe. He holds a Master’s degree in Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies from Harvard University and a BA in Russian language and philosophy from St. Olaf College.

August 11: Can America Govern Itself?

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Over the past several decades, the United States has faced a growing list of challenges.  In previous challenges that our country has faced, we were helped by the governing capacities of our democratic institutions.  But over the last twenty years, American voters have lost confidence in democratic institutions to provide efficient and equitable governance and to solve social problems.  This loss of democratic confidence has occurred largely in conjunction with increasingly high levels of ideological polarization and partisan animosity.  This lecture will explore the rise of polarized politics, its profound impact on our governing capacities, and what we can do to once again make progress on common challenges.

Nolan McCartyNolan McCarty is the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Politics and Public Affairs and Interim Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. His research interests include U.S. politics, democratic political institutions, and political game theory. He has authored or co-authored four books: Political Game Theory, Polarized America: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches, Political Bubbles: Financial Crises and the Failure of American Democracy and Polarization: What Everyone Needs to Know. In 2010, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He earned his AB from the University of Chicago and his PhD from Carnegie Mellon University.


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