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Happening@POLIS – December 2016

Happening@POLIS – December 2016

Welcome to the new Happening@POLIS. We’ll send this newsletter out once a quarter to update you on important news impacting POLIS and the Center’s goals.

Stay posted on our news and programming in real time by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.

2016 Elections at Duke
In the context of one of the most bitterly contested races in our nation’s history, POLIS staff and interns collaborated with students, faculty and staff to promote student voting and constructive dialogue, including:
  • Supporting the Duke Voter Coalition, a student-led effort to coordinate voter education and turnout across campus
  • Collaborating on the redesign of the Student Affairs voter education website
  • Co-sponsoring and speaking at watch parties organized by undergraduate students during the presidential debates
  • Leading “The Choice: the Candidates, the Campaign, and the State of American Politics”, a viewing and discussion of the PBS documentary “The Choice” with Phil Bennett, co-producer and Sanford professor
  • Co-sponsoring the election night party at Sanford (see video)
  • Leading an open and respectful community conversation immediately after the momentous result in which students, faculty and staff across the political spectrum talked about the results and possible implications
  • Convening a roundtable with professors Bill Adair, Kristin Goss, Bruce Jentleson, Gunther Peck, and Sanford Diversity Fellow Quinton Smith on the implications of the election for American politics and policy
POLIS Response
Read Dr. Fritz Mayer’s letter on how POLIS is responding to the 2016 election and perhaps the greatest challenge of our time: the ever-more-apparent dysfunction of American politics.

Under the leadership of Terry Sanford Distinguished Fellow Thomas W. Ross and in partnership with Common Cause North Carolina, POLIS has continued work on Beyond Gerrymandering: Impartial Redistricting for North Carolina. The ongoing project seeks to educate the public on how an independent, impartial redistricting commission might work. We gathered a bipartisan commission of 10 retired jurists (five Republicans, five Democrats) that drew a new (unofficial) North Carolina Congressional map that garnered significant media interest and is more relevant than ever as North Carolina’s electoral districts continue to come under scrutiny.

The project has already changed how one North Carolina town has approach this issue. In October 2016, Republicans and Democrats on the Morrisville Town Council agreed to approve changes to its voting maps based on the same criteria the nonpartisan jurists used for their unofficial map.

Other Duke Departments are also involved: Mathematics Chair Jonathan Mattingly and students have tested various redistricting permutations to gain perspective on whether certain redistricted models are more fair than others. Read more and watch their presentation.

This major festival was hosted jointly with Sanford’s DeWitt Wallace Center for  Media and Democracy and the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. 100 political cartoonists descended on Durham for three days to discuss how their work helps shape public opinion, including on hot-button issues such as NC House Bill 2 and the Black Lives Matter movement. The festival also featured live cartooning, evening performances, and workshops. Guests included industry heavyweights throughout the cartooning and satire world and garnered massive student and community participation.

For a full recap, click here. To watch the events, visit our YouTube Channel.

B.J. Rudell Joins POLIS

Dear Friends of POLIS,

Landy Elliott left her position as associate director of POLIS at the end of August. I was very sad about that (as was Landy!), but her family had an opportunity to move to Prague for a few years and decided they couldn’t turn it down. Landy made a tremendous impact during POLIS’ first year and I wish her well in this new chapter of her life.

However, I am very excited to have welcomed B.J. Rudell as the new associate director. He’s working closely with me to carry on the job of building POLIS. B.J.’s 20+ year career has included stints on Capitol Hill, on a presidential campaign, in a newsroom, in classrooms, and for a consulting firm.  He has authored two books and numerous political op-eds. B.J. is already continuing Landy’s legacy of shaping POLIS into one of the premier institutes of politics in higher education.

Please join me in thanking Landy for a job well done and welcoming B.J. to POLIS!

Fritz Mayer

Duke Alumni Hear Unique Perspectives
on 2016 Election in Hill Event

The media environment, gender, race, and class are all important themes of 2016 presidential elections, according to national experts who spoke at “Sanford on the Hill 2.0,” the Sanford School of Public Policy’s reboot of its annual July DC reception. New this year, POLIS sponsored a panel discussion, “Election 2016 and the Future of American Politics,” which offered the socio-political context of this year’s election cycle and what we might expect for the future. Notable Duke alumni, distinguished speakers, and other DC professionals gathered at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center on July 12 for the event.

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