Influential guest speakers including journalists, writers, researchers, scholars, and activists are invited to analyze key policy issues ranging from health care to immigration, climate change to economic inequality, and human rights to foreign affairs by focusing upon the historical context, social values, cultural frameworks, and political climate of which they are emblematic. Participants are drawn from a cross-section of elected representatives, community leaders, members of clergy, nonprofit activists, state/local government agency staff, plus faculty and students from institutions of higher education and high schools. After providing an assessment of current policies and future options, speakers lead the participants in a rigorous evaluation of which alternatives merit adoption and which strategies promise the greatest success. Neither partisan nor sectarian, PublicSquare promises to reinstate the kind of reasoned conversation about political affairs that has largely disappeared from American civic life and that it essential to the perpetuation of our democracy.
- This talk will place current struggles over the expansion and suppression of the right to vote in a historical context, tracing battles over voting from the ratification of the Constitution through the elimination of property qualifications, the enfranchisement of Black men during Reconstruction and the advent of Black officeholding, Black disfranchisement in the Jim Crow South, the achievement, and limits, of women's suffrage, the rise and fall of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and current laws making it harder to cast a ballot.
- The biggest challenge facing American democracy is the rise of political extremism since compromise enables our government to function effectively and is essential to enact most major legislation. This webinar explores whether political reforms involving such issues as the presidential nomination process, party primaries, gerrymandering, and campaign-finance can help minimize the role of extremist forces in our politics.
- On the campaign trail, Democrats promised to break from the Trump administration’s immigration policies. Already, the Biden-Harris administration has taken several steps in that direction, but the path ahead is filled with political obstacles and legal challenges. César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández will discuss options available to the new administration and challenges it is likely to face—from activists on the left and Republicans on the right.
- This webinar focuses on what we have learned about electoral processes from November’s historic presidential election – and what we might want to think about changing. Among the topics engaged are: the possibility of Electoral College reform; the need for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote; the need for more nationally uniform procedures across the states; better funded election administration; and stronger safeguards against the many different varieties of voter suppression.
- Jeffrey Rosen discusses the future of the Supreme Court and the key constitutional issues it will face, such as free speech, religious liberty, and civil rights. At a time of deep partisan polarization, he talks about how the Supreme Court can maintain its bipartisan legitimacy and independence. Finally, Rosen explores the arguments for and against calls for structural reform of the judiciary, including court packing and term limits.
- What can be done consistent with the First Amendment and without raising the risk of censorship to ensure that voters can make informed election decisions despite a flood of virally-spread false and misleading speech, audio, and images? How can the United States minimize foreign disinformation campaigns aimed at American elections and attempts to sow social discord via bot armies?
- What happened to the conservative movement? And where does it go now? Charlie Sykes is the author of How the Right Lost Its Mind, which looks at the Trumpist takeover of the Republican Party. But now that that takeover is complete, what lies ahead for the conservative movement?
- This seminar explores the unique risks face recognition poses to our constitutional rights and liberties, and the efforts underway in communities across the country to regulate or ban its use. It will outline the current state of the technology and likely future deployments in the United States and abroad in the absence of regulation, using the UK as a comparative case study.
- This seminar examines a largely overlooked reason for our failure to narrow the substantial gap in test scores between students at the top and bottom of the socioeconomic spectrum—and to raise overall achievement—over the past 50 years. Policymakers and reformers have viewed the problem as one of skills; Cognitive science, however, indicates the problem is fundamentally a lack of academic knowledge and vocabulary. As some schools are now discovering, the solution is to immerse all students in a rich, content-focused curriculum, beginning in the early elementary grades.
- More than four decades after a post-Watergate Congress tried to put serious limits on campaign spending, the flood of money into politics has become a tsunami. A series of Supreme Court decisions has eroded many if not most attempts to restrict campaign spending. The growth of PACs and Super PACS has brought funds into the process from an ever-wider range of sources, especially from people of great means. With the 2020 money race in full stride, is there any realistic chance that an effective law limiting campaign spending can get through the Congress, or withstand constitutional scrutiny?
- This seminar explores the concept of privacy in the modern age, the significance of recent developments in Europe and California, and the prospects for federal legislation in the United States. Among the key concepts, we will discuss the General Data Protection Regulation, the California Consumer Privacy Act, the FTC consent orders concerning Facebook and Google, the need for a US data protection agency, and emerging challenges, including universal guidelines for Artificial Intelligence and limitations on facial recognition.
- This seminar considers the “voting wars” that have erupted between the right and left over access to the ballot and concerns about voter fraud, voter suppression, and electoral integrity. It explores whether and how changes in voting rules, election administrator incompetence, foreign interference and occasional domestic “dirty tricks,” and an escalation of the rhetoric surrounding “stolen” elections threaten the legitimacy and acceptance of election results in 2020 and beyond.
- The seminar provides a contextual overview of the legal, policy, and historical developments – including the persistent influence of gender and racial biases on cultural and workplace attitudes – that have shaped the existing framework of protections against sexual harassment in the workplace.
- The seminar outlines the dysfunctional policy decisions that gave rise to an undocumented population that peaked at 12 million persons in 2008. It reviews what has happened to that population in subsequent years, focusing on the changing circumstances in Mexico and Central America and policy decisions taken during the Obama Administration.
- Preview Screening of A Towering Task: A Peace Corps Documentary followed by a conversation with 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).
- The Internet was once seen as a democratizing force, but today social media platforms have become exploitable intermediaries of political discourse. How should governments, institutions, tech companies, communities, and individuals respond? How do we repair polarization created by the Internet?
- What does it take for the most venerable, stable, and free government in the world to undergo a genuine Constitutional crisis? Are there signs that we are moving toward such an atmosphere? If so, what can be done to alter that course?
- James Madison and the Framers of the Constitution designed not a direct democracy but a representative republic that would filter public passions to promote thoughtful deliberation and the public good. Jeffrey Rosen asks what Madison and the framers would think of our current Congress, presidency, courts, and media, asking how we can resurrect Madisonian values of thoughtful deliberation and reasoned public discourse today.