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'History in the Making' panel offers faculty perspectives on election

By: Kathy Hovis,  AS Communications
Mon, 10/17/2016

Faculty from the College of Arts Sciences will discuss this year’s presidential election and what it means for the future of our country during a special event Nov. 1.

“History in the Making: Cornell Perspectives on Election 2016” will feature four Arts Sciences faculty, as well as Gretchen Ritter ’83, the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts Sciences and a professor of government, who will act as moderator.

“This year’s presidential election has surprised, dismayed and challenged many Americans for a variety of reasons,” Ritter said. “During this panel discussion, our faculty will bring their unique perspectives to various aspects of the race, offering compelling analyses of the current campaign and thinking forward to what the impact of this election might be on American politics after November 8th.”

Faculty members featured include:

  • Sergio Garcia-Rios, assistant professor, Department of Government and Latina/o Studies
  • Adam Seth Levine, assistant professor, Department of Government
  • Bruce Lewenstein, chair, Science Technology Studies, professor, Departments of Science Technology Studies and Communication
  • Jamila Michener, assistant professor, Department of Government

Michener’s presentation will focus on the interrelated dynamics of race, class and gender in the election.

“In my view, this election has revealed the continued and powerful role of patriarchal ethno racial anxieties in shaping American politics,” Michener said. “Such anxieties, combined with widespread perceptions (and experience) of economic precarity, have led to unprecedented divisiveness, alienation and distrust among political elites and everyday voters. The election is a reflection of these realities.”

Lewenstein will discuss how technology has become an integral part of the election process — from the audio, video and social media that candidates rely on to spread messages to the various generations of voting machines, which came under fire following the “hanging chad” controversy of the 2000 election.  

He will also talk about claims that this year’s presidential election will be hacked or manipulated using technology and current disputes about voter identification standards.

“We’re asking science and technology to solve social problems, but sometimes the problem isn’t there in the first place,” Lewenstein says of efforts to enact biometric voter identification systems, when reports say that only a few fraudulent ballots have been cast among the last billion or so votes in the U.S.

The panel discussion will take place at 7 p.m. Nov. 1 in Rhodes–Rawlings Auditorium in Klarman Hall. Panelists will offer their perspectives on this year’s unusual presidential election campaign, then answer questions from the audience.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore.

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