By Eva Monhaut
The IU South Bend Political Science Club and American Democracy Project are teaming up to host an online zoom lecture live from 7 – 8 P.M. on Sept. 22. The lecture features American author and journalist, Alexander Hefferner, who hosts on PBS.
The lecture will focus on civil discourse in an age surrounded by a lack of civility. In particular, the talk will cover “the effects of divisiveness on discourse, media, and governance as well as the influence of social platforms and filter bubbles, mis- and disinformation, and bigotry that polarize and undermine civil society,” according to the event posting via Titan Atlas.
America Democracy Project advisor and Political Science professor, Elizabeth Bennion, relates her role in the event.
“The speaker reached out to me back in January to inquire about whether we were interested in topics of civil discourse, media literacy, and other skills necessary to make democracy work. This fit very well with our mission as the American Democracy Project and I was pleased to be able to extend an invitation to the speaker to deliver two lectures and a workshop at IU South Bend,” expressed Bennion.
COVID-19 has complicated many IU events, but Bennion said having to move the talk online actually opened up new windows.
“The Director of the Alumni Association reached out to me after seeing a posting about the lectures to see if the IU South Bend Alumni Association might be able to help in some way. They are now the primary sponsors of the event, along with the American Democracy Project. In addition, the departments of history and political science from IU South Bend have signed on as co-sponsors and, due to the virtual nature of the talk, the School of Social Sciences at IU Southeast and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at IU Kokomo also signed in as co-sponsors, which means they are contributing toward the cost of the event, but are also promoting these lectures to their students,” said Bennion.
Furthermore, the talk aims to broaden and create a sense of community among people of all backgrounds and political beliefs. Having the talks shift online actually makes it easier to reach a bigger audience and help establish these connections. It is hopefully that having these connections will only create a greater sense of political unity and progress.
“The American Democracy Project welcomes Republicans and Democrats, Greens and Libertarians, high school students, and senior citizens to join us [and] students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members are all encouraged to attend. High school students should join us, too! Anybody who cares about democracy should attend, listen, learn, and ask questions as we consider how to make a civil, fact-based, and inclusive politics possible,” encouraged Bennion.
Students interested in learning more about the talk can visit the IUSBADP Facebook page for more information.
“People will be able to access a recorded version of the lecture on Civility in an Uncivil age after the event. It will be posted to the American Democracy Project of IU South Bend YouTube channel. People can also tune into my follow-up interview with Alexander Heffner on WNIT’s Politically Speaking. We’ll be discussing whether a civil, inclusive, and fact-based politics is possible. That program will air on WNIT television on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. and will also be available online at wnit.org/ps,” concluded Bennion.