March 23, 2013 9:30 AM – 1:00 PM
1) Why Politicians Behave the Way They Do
William Burke-White / University of Pennsylvania
Why do America's foreign policy leaders view the world the way they do? Why did George Washington urge the United States to "steer clear of permanent alliances"? Why did George Bush believe that democracy could be imposed in the Middle East? Why does Barack Obama perceive an "arch of history" motivates the Arab Spring? How have our leaders both past and present understood the world around them, and how have those understandings shaped American foreign policy through the years?
This lecture explores the basic theories of international relations and considers how theoretical frameworks-including realism, institutionalism, constructivism, and liberalism-have shaped the worldview of America's leaders. We will consider the particular policy choices of America's Presidents and Secretaries of State from George Washington and George Bush to Henry Kissinger and Hillary Clinton. Particular examples, such as the different approaches toward the Middle East of George Bush and Barack Obama, will highlight the importance of the theoretical frames and worldviews foreign policy leaders bring with them to the Oval Office.
2) Why Public Opinion Polls Are So Often Wrong
Jennifer Lawless / American University
The 2012 elections were as much a victory for many pollsters as for Barack Obama. Nate Silver - among others - managed to predict with precision and accuracy the outcome of the presidential election in all 50 states, and the results of U.S. Senate races in nearly all cases. Given the limitations of polling and public opinion data, the pollsters' success was remarkable. After all, more people can name the judge who presided over the O.J. Simpson case than the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. More women and men know the color of Monica Lewinsky's infamous dress than the statute that conferred investigative power on Kenneth Starr. And each year, more Americans watch American Idol than the State of the Union Address. Yet Americans are polled - on a daily basis - about their attitudes regarding the fiscal cliff, marriage equality and reproductive rights, and - already - candidates likely to seek office in the 2014 midterm elections.
Considering how little Americans know about politics, why have politicians, policy makers, and pundits come to rely so heavily on public opinion polls? How do pollsters and analysts ever manage to use public opinion data to generate accurate conclusions? Better yet, why are Americans so disgruntled when the pollsters get it wrong? Professor Lawless explains the common pitfalls associated with gathering "snapshots" of what Americans are thinking, suggests that we raise an eyebrow to everything we read, but ultimately underscores the value of polling, statistical evidence, and careful analysis.
3) Two Movies Every Film Lover Should See
Marc Lapadula / Yale University
It's nearly impossible to try and count the number of movies which have been released in the United States since the dawn of the film industry. So imagine how difficult it would be to try and identify the two best American movies, and describe what makes them so great! At this special event, Yale Film professor Marc Lapadula will discuss his two choices, show film clips, and explain his criteria:
GREAT STORIES: It's crucial that there is solid writing with a strong story "arc," creating a compelling narrative structure.
GREAT PERFORMANCES: Needless to say, movies with weak performances are not likely to stand the test of time.
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: We want to see characters that face supremely challenging experiences which transforms them in some profound way.
DIRECTION AND EDITING: Inspired direction is crisp and intelligent. It must grapple with sophisticated themes and subtexts. It can never be obvious or overly sentimental.
BOX OFFICE SUCCESS: Here is where the business side intersects with the "art of film-making." Many bad movies generate a lot of money, but few films become "true classics" if they don't connect with large