Preview screening of A Towering Task: A Peace Corps Documentary followed by a conversation and reception with its producer and director, Alana DeJoseph, who previously served as associate producer of the award-winning PBS documentaries The Greatest Good (about the U.S. Forest Service) and Green Fire (about conservationist Aldo Leopold). Founded during the Cold War, the Peace Corps stands as an icon of American idealism. From the beginning its mission of world peace and friendship proved to be a towering task. Imbued with the unbounded energy and vision of its charismatic leader, Sargent Shriver, and thousands of vigorous volunteers, the story of the Peace Corps is a uniquely American tale. From the political machinations to establish not just a brand new government agency, but a new concept in international relations, from the growing pains of an agency straining to define its mission, A Towering Task takes viewers on a journey of what it means to be a global citizen.
This event made possible through the generosity of the Juliane Heyman, Dan Meisel and Amy Wendel, and Union Bank.
The Internet was once seen as a democratizing force, but today social media platforms have become exploitable intermediaries of political discourse. The velocity of online information and viral communication can easily create dysfunction in campaigns and within democracy. And for a relatively small investment in resources, a country’s media can be infiltrated by bots, trolls, hackers and leakers, without leaving much evidence of who sponsored the attack. In addition, through the use of algorithms that create “filter bubbles” and echo chambers, the Internet is further polarizing public opinion. How should governments, institutions, tech companies, communities, and individuals respond? How do we repair polarization created by the Internet?
Nathaniel Persily is the James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and co-director of the Stanford Project on Democracy and the Internet. A nationally recognized constitutional law expert, frequent media commentator, as well as award-winning educator, he is the editor of Solutions to Political Polarization in America, a contributor to The Washington Post and The New York Times, and the author of a work-in-progress that explores the Internet’s impact on U.S. democracy. A sought-after nonpartisan voice on voting rights, Persily has served as a special master or court-appointed expert to craft congressional or legislative districting plans for Georgia, Maryland, Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. He received a B.A. and M.A. in political science from Yale; a J.D. from Stanford where he was President of the Stanford Law Review, and a Ph.D. in political science from UC Berkeley.
This event made possible through the generosity of George Gelles and Christine Garvey.
Nathaniel Persily, “The Campaign Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” The American Interest, vol. 11, no. 2, Oct. 10, 2015
Nathaniel Persily, “Can Democracy Survive the Internet?” Journal of Democracy vol. 28, April 2017
What does it take for the most venerable, stable, and free government in the world to undergo a genuine Constitutional crisis? Jeff Greenfield argues that such a crisis would not emerge overnight, nor would it be the consequence of any one election or leader. Rather, it would take a steady erasure of beliefs and assumptions held across political and ideological lines, as well as an erosion of trust not just in politics, but in major institutions as well. Are there signs that we are moving toward such an atmosphere? If so, what can be done to alter that course?
Jeff Greenfield is a five-time Emmy-winning network correspondent and best-selling author who, during a career spanning more than three decades, has served as senior political correspondent for CBS, senior analyst for CNN, political and media analyst for ABC News, and contributing correspondent for PBS’ “News Hour Weekend.” Best known for his coverage of domestic politics and media, he has been a floor reporter or anchor booth analyst for every national convention since 1988. He was formerly a columnist for Time, Yahoo! News, and the New York Observer and is currently one for Politico and The Daily Beast. Greenfield has authored or co-authored 14 books, including a national bestselling novel (The People’s Choice: A Cautionary Tale) and several alternate histories of American politics (Then Everything Changed, 43*: When Gore Beat Bush, and If Kennedy Lived). Greenfield graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin where he was editor-in-chief of The Daily Cardinal. He graduated with honors from the Yale Law School where he was a Note and Comment Editor of the Yale Law Journal.
This event made possible through the generosity of the Poomer Fund, Santa Barbara Foundation, courtesy of Anne Smith Towbes.
Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, “This is How Democracies Die,” The Guardian (January 21, 2018)
David Frum, “How to Build an Autocracy,” The Atlantic (March, 2017)