ALBERT CAMARILLO, PH.D.

In order to put current discussions of American identity and becoming American in context, we take a look at the changing scope of American “national character.” How have “We” defined ourselves over time? In this session Dr. Camarillo will consider how American national character (how Americans have defined themselves and their nation) has shifted over time. We’ll examine the many factors that contribute to that historical and ongoing evolution including expansion of the national boundaries, immigration, domestic and world wars, slavery, race/ethnicity, and industrialization. Gain a deeper sense of the important elements that explain how Americans across the centuries viewed themselves and the nation as a whole.

How have foreign immigration and immigration policies shaped the demography and politics of American nation over time? Delve into an exploration of how the long and changing nature of immigration to American shores has shaped and reshaped the nature of American society since the early days of the republic. Learn about the turning points, counterforces, and low-key facts on the ground contributing to the composition and political environment of America today.

Explore the concept and substance of diversity in America — past and present. We’ll unfold the assumptions underlying our concept of “diversity”, setting the scene for a consideration of how issues of religion, culture, region, race, and class have played a role in defining American diversity across generations. Get an historian’s perspective of how the United States has grappled with the changing demography of its people over time.

How did the 1960s change our lives? We will discuss how Americans who lived through the decade of the 1960s were influenced by the social/cultural and political currents of the era and by tensions and violence, both domestic and international. We’ll reflect on how the impact of the 1960s manifests itself in America today. Participants will be invited to share their memories of the decade in a broad ranging Q&A session.
 

TIMOTHY EGAN


In 2016, a mere 77,000 voters in three states — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan — determined the presidency. This time around, this same 77,000 will be in play again, but with a different dynamic. This discussion, coming at the height of our political season, will look at whats happened, and what could happen, with this crucial segment that will seal the fate of the 2020 election.


The Sioux Indians had a saying: A people without history are like wind on the buffalo grass. With the balkanization and polarization of our politics, you might think our country no longer has a shared set of historical values. But I will try to make a case that we do.


My next book, A Pilgrimage Through Eternity, recounts a walk I took from Canterbury to Rome, on the ancient Via Francigena trail. At a time when Europe has never been so secular, I trace the footprints of monarchs, madmen, and mystics and ask what has hadppene to Christianity at a time when Europe has never been more secular.


This is a visual production, based on a book I wrote about the photographer Edward Curtis, about a man who tried to photograph every Native American tribe still functioning at the dawn of the 20th century. It’s a look at America’s First People, and the man who tried to make them immortal.
 

STEVEN ERLANGER

The world according to Trump, and does it matter? I met Donald Trump in 1988, when he and Ivana showed me around his new yacht, “The Trump Princess,” later lost in a bankruptcy. Even then he was obsessed with trade, with the unfairness of American alliances, and with Germany and Japan and their cars on American streets. Trump is still the same man, with the same fixed ideas. How has that translated into foreign policy, and what will outlast him?

I’ve lived in Britain for nearly nine years in two tranches: once under Margaret Thatcher, when London was grotty but Britain mattered, and again under David Cameron and Theresa May, when London was a global capital and Britain mattered little. Then, I covered two elections and two referendums — on Scottish independence and Brexit. Later I moved to Brussels and covered the mess of the Brexit negotiations from the other end, or both ends, really. What has happened to the Britain we thought we knew? How important has Brexit been to the new populism? And what has been the impact on Europe?

I’ve met every NATO secretary-general since Lord Carrington in the 1980’s. How has NATO evolved, especially with the end of the Cold War and then the resurgence of a revanchist Russia and the annexation of Crimea and war in Ukraine? Donald Trump has called out allies on defense spending, but he has also called into question Article Five, the commitment to collective defense, the principle of “all for all, and all for one.” I was just in the Baltics to look at new NATO deployments there. How fragile is European security? And how does NATO and Europe deal with the rise of China, both militarily and technologically? A very different challenge from Russia or the former Soviet Union.

Brexit and Trump have made populism a real topic, speaking to a lot of voter anger at globalization, the European Union, metropolitan elites and even those who want strong action to fight climate change. But is all populism the same? What differentiates it? How is it manifest in different parts of Europe? What is its nature in the countries formerly occupied by the Soviet Union, as opposed to France, Britain and Sweden? What is its future, and what impact will it have on the European Union?
 

DANIEL SCHNUR

In 2018, female voters turned out in immense numbers to elect a Democratic House majority. Two years earlier, white working class men turned the election for Donald Trump. Who will emerge as the key swing bloc in 2020? Candidates in both sides must prioritize their resources to talk to groups of voters whose changing allegiances and motivations can swing an election. Join a discussion about which states hold the key to the electoral college, and which voters in those states could tip the balance.

What does it mean to be ‘qualified’ to run for President? In an earlier time, Donald Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush might have all been dismissed as serious candidates because of a lack of relevant experience. But today, the traditional criteria for plausibility have been largely abandoned and replaced by new thresholds. A candidate’s personal and professional biographies are now often more central to the candidates’ prospects than their political experience. The question is whether that change has made the process better or worse.

Generations of American politicians worked to establish themselves as bipartisan leaders who could unify the country behind a common set of goals. But in a technology-driven era of campaigning, it has become increasingly common for candidates and operatives in both parties to overlook the voters in the political center in order to spend more time and energy on motivating their most loyal supporters. Grassroots populist tides have dragged their respective parties further toward their ideological extremes. Is the gap now too large for our leaders to bring people back together after an election?

America’s role as an economic, diplomatic and military leader is now under greater threat than at any time in the post-WWII era. Domestic political debates over trade, immigration, international security and other global challenges have been the driving force behind the U.S. retreat from its responsibilities on the world stage. We’ll discuss the economic uncertainties and cultural tensions that have driven these shifts in public attitude, and how leaders in both parties can help voters understand the benefits of international engagement.