Rethinking America with the Sacramento Bee

Saturday, September 21, 2019 9:30 am - 1:15 pm


12:10 pm - 1:15 pm
China, Russia, and The European Union: What's Next (and why)?

Steven Lamy / University of Southern California

What happens when the peace and prosperity provided by US leadership after the Cold War goes away? This talk explores two simple questions. Are we headed for a new period of great power rivalry? And who will lead? We will explore the growth of China's economic interests and its global reach through its economic investments. We will also look at Russia's return to great power status and the security challenges it presents to the rest of the world. Finally, even with Brexit, the EU remains a formidable group of 27 countries that is refocusing it's attention on a more purposeful foreign and defense policy strategy.

For the western powers whose order has prevailed since the end of WW2, both China and Russia present existential challenges. With a nationalist in the White House, not interested in foreign policy and dismissive of international cooperation and institutions, the EU may have to save what is left of the liberal international order. What does this uncertainty about the future of world order mean for all us?

Steven Lamy / University of Southern California

Steven Lamy is a professor of international relations and a Vice Dean at the University of Southern California. He has been named professor of the year four times. Professor Lamy was the director of USC’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and its Center for Public Education in International Affairs. He is also the co-Principal Investigator in a Luce Foundation Grant on Religion Identity and Global Governance.

10:50 am - 11:55 am
Free Speech Revisited: Provocative Views of the First Amendment

Alison Gash / University of Oregon

Free speech is at the foundation of almost every political battle in the United States–and for good reason. It is the basis of our democracy. As Benjamin Franklin said, "Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government: When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved." Yet, as critical as they may be to a functioning democracy, our rights to free speech are also among the most contested. From campuses to football fields, and whether to protest war, oppose elections, catalyze hate or highlight racial injustice, fights over the meaning and exercise of free speech dominate every critical political moment in American history.

This course provides an overview of the most important and contentious battles over free speech in order to highlight how deeply contested and significant free speech is in American politics. The course will look at historical and contemporary debates over free speech, examining how the founding fathers understood free speech at the time of the Constitutional convention, how courts have expanded and altered the scope and breadth of our free speech rights, and how politicians and activists have used free speech as a way of either constraining or promoting particular perspectives. The course will also explore conflicts between free speech and other Constitutional rights. Some of the most prominent free speech battles have been waged against the backdrop of white supremacy, policy brutality, and gay rights. Students will come to see how questions over the difference between free speech and hate speech–over expression or exclusion–are a major component of some of the most heated and salient civil rights struggles.

Alison Gash / University of Oregon

Alison Gash is a political science professor and a member of the Provost’s Teaching Academy at the University of Oregon, where she has received several fellowships and grants for her teaching. She was recently awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Award. Professor Gash has also taught at Berkeley, where she received the Commendation for Excellence in Teaching two years in a row. She is the author of “Below the Radar: How Silence Can Save Civil Rights.” Her work has appeared in Newsweek, Slate, Politico, and Washington Monthly.

9:30 am - 10:35 am
How the 1960s Shaped American Politics Today

Leonard Steinhorn / American University

We may not wear bell bottoms and tie-dye t-shirts anymore, and let's not talk about what happened to our hair. But even though it's been half a century since the 1960s, it’s a decade that continues to reverberate in our society, politics, culture, and institutions to this very day. In so many ways it was the Sixties that spawned today's polarization and culture wars, which divide us now the way Vietnam did back then. From civil rights to feminism to gay liberation to the environmental movement to the silent majority, what started in the Sixties has shaped and influenced our country ever since. 

To many, the presidency of Barack Obama symbolized the liberation movements of the Sixties. But it's also important to ask how the Sixties produced the presidency of Donald Trump. It's the Sixties, its meaning and its legacy that may well be the dividing line in our politics today.

Leonard Steinhorn / American University

Leonard Steinhorn is a professor of communication and affiliate professor of history at American University. He currently serves as a political analyst for CBS News in Washington, D.C. He is the author of “The Greater Generation: In Defense of the Baby Boom Legacy,” and co-author of “By the Color of Our Skin: The Illusion of Integration and the Reality of Race,” books that have generated widespread discussion and debate. Professor Steinhorn’s writings have been featured in several publications, including The Washington Post, Salon, Politico, and Huffington Post. He has twice been named Faculty Member of the Year at AU.