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A Day of American History and Politics (Dallas)

June 08, 2019 9:30 AM – 1:15 PM

schedule

9:30 AM - 10:35 AM
America and the World 2019: Where Are We Now? (And where are we going?)

William Burke-White / University of Pennsylvania

What does the international system of the future look like? Since the end of World War II, the answer has been an international order created by the United States and a coalition of likeminded states. That coalition has advanced a shared global vision rooted in economic liberalization, shared security commitments, and mutual values such as human rights. Today, however, disruptive forces are threatening the post-WWII international order. In a time of international crises ranging from Iran and North Korea to the health of the global economy, it is far from clear whether the international order as we know it can survive.

In the wake of World War II, the US and its allies constructed an international system that provided lasting stability and advanced their interests and values, including open economic flows, a US security guarantee, and core liberal values. Today, that system is under threat from 5 disruptive trends: 1) power shifts from the US to China and others, 2) the rise of populist nationalism around the world, 3) artificial intelligence and information transparency, 4) the rise of non-state actors, and 5) the threat of climate change. In light of these disruptive forces, can post-WWII order continue? Can liberal values survive? If not, what will global politics look like in the years ahead? This talk will conclude with three distinct visions of the global order that may emerge in the decades ahead. What might these different world orders mean for our economy, for our security, and for our values?

William Burke-White / University of Pennsylvania
William Burke-White is the Richard Perry Professor and Inaugural Director of the Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania. He served in the Obama Administration from 2009-2011 on Secretary Clinton's Policy Planning Staff. He was also principal drafter of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, Secretary Clinton's hallmark foreign policy and institutional reform effort. Professor Burke-White has received the Levin Award and the Gorman award for Excellence in Teaching.

10:50 AM - 11:55 AM
What's Wrong With Congress? Can an 18th Century Structure Still Work?

Wendy Schiller / Brown University

In the past decade, the United States has endured a stark economic crisis, fierce partisan political battles, and historic changes in the global political environment. The president, Congress, and the Supreme Court have taken actions that profoundly affect the scope of federal power and individual rights in our political and economic system. During this time there has been a great deal of debate as to whether these actions are in line with the U.S. Constitution and the intent of those who founded our nation. In this class, we will address these debates with a specific focus on the writings of key founders such as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and our first president, George Washington.

What would these men say about the federal auto and bank bailouts, Obamacare, the Federal Reserve, illegal immigration, the size of the national debt, same-sex marriage, gun violence, and U.S. involvement in conflicts on foreign soil? We will discuss the nature of federal power in the economic and social lives of citizens at home and abroad; the role of political parties, ideology, and diversity in a democracy; and the expected versus actual power of each of the branches of government vis-a-vis each other. We will also examine the nature of the federal-state relationship, with a focus on what founders believed should be the appropriate boundaries between national and state governments, and whether the reality of 21st century American life makes those boundaries obsolete.

Wendy Schiller / Brown University
Wendy Schiller is the Chair of the Political Science Department at Brown University. She is an expert in the field of the U.S. Congress and political representation, and the recent recipient of a National Science Foundation grant to study party conflict and factionalism in the U.S. Senate. Professor Schiller has been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and a six-time recipient of the Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award at Brown.

12:10 PM - 1:15 PM
The Presidency: The Changing Role of America's Highest Office

Jeremi Suri / University of Texas

The American presidency is the most powerful political office in the world. Surprisingly, most contemporary presidents have found themselves severely constrained in their ability to pursue their chosen agendas for domestic and foreign policy change. This lecture will explain why, focusing on the nature of government bureaucracy, the range of American challenges and commitments, and the development of the modern media.

We will begin with the founding vision of the U.S. presidency and the actions of its first occupant, George Washington. Then, we’ll examine the presidencies of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and the most recent office-holders. We will focus on how the power of the presidency has changed over time and what that has meant for American society. The lecture will close with reflections for how we can improve presidential leadership in future years.

Jeremi Suri / University of Texas
Jeremi Suri holds the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a professor in the University's Department of History and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Professor Suri is the author and editor of nine books on contemporary politics and foreign policy, most recently: "The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America's Office." His research and teaching have received numerous prizes. In 2007 Smithsonian Magazine named him one of America's "Top Young Innovators" in the Arts and Sciences. In 2018 Suri received the President's Associates Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas, and the Pro Bene Meritis Award for Public Contributions to the Liberal Arts.

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